Gibbon Falls, Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone fee increases for 2015?

Yellowstone fee increases for 2015 are currently being debated by National Park Service officials, as entry charges haven’t changed since 2006.

Right now the entry fee for Yellowstone National Park and Grand Teton National Park is $25 for a week pass that covers an individual or a car with up to four people. (A yearly pass, meanwhile, is only $50.) Under current rules, the Park Service can propose up to $5 more for weekly passes, bringing the total up to $30. As noted, the last time Yellowstone National Park/Grand Teton National Park fees were raised was in 2006; the National Park Service put a moratorium on fee increases in 2008. From the Wyoming News:

“We now have a timeframe and a mechanism that our Washington headquarters has laid out for us to follow, and we’re working on some proposals that we will go out to the public for review and comment,” said Al Nash, a spokesman for Yellowstone National Park. “Neither of us has come up with a proposal we’re ready to go to the public with yet, but we will be doing so soon.”

Nash said any proposed fee increases must be submitted to the regional Park Service office in Denver by mid-February. The regional office then has until mid-March to look over the changes and send them to Washington for final approval.

Andrew White, Nash’s counterpart at Grand Teton National Park, said officials from both parks have been collaborating on their fee increase requests, given the parks’ close proximity to one another.

Not all the entry fees go direction to Yellowstone National Park or Grand Teton National Park for daily operations: 80 percent does stay within the Park, but 20 percent goes back to the National Park Service to cover costs at national parks that don’t receive enough in gate or concession fees to cover operating costs.

Among the options on the table, according to Yellowstone National Park Superintendent Dan Wenk: different levels of entry fees, past the two (weekly and yearly) currently in use:

Among Wenk’s ideas for entrance fees are including options such as two-day or three-day passes along with the current seven-day pass. He wants to continue to offer a two-park pass, but he’d like to “divorce” Yellowstone from Grand Teton so each offers its own entry fee….

Several economists suggested Wenk charge extra to foreign visitors, who make up a large part of the 3.5 million annual visits to Yellowstone. The entry cost is a tiny percentage of the total cost of an international trip, and far lower than African national parks charge, for instance.

“And they can’t go screaming to their congressman,” said Robert Nelson, professor of public affairs at the University of Maryland.

Image of Gibbon Falls by National Park Service via flickr.com. Released under Creative Commons license.

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