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Grand Teton to Increase Backcountry, Other Special Permit Fees

Grand Teton National Park will be raising their fees for backcountry, motor boat, wedding and special event permits come January 1, 2018.

The news comes as the National Park Service is considering a fee hike at Grand Teton, as well as 16 other national parks, including neighboring Yellowstone.

According to the Jackson Hole News & Guide, the cost of a backcountry permit will rise from $25 to $35, with an additional $10 fee for advance registration. In addition, wedding permits would rise from $100 to $125, special event permits would rise from $175 to $200, and motor boat permits would rise from $2 to $12.

For comparison, the Guide notes camping at Jenny Lake Campground (which is concessionaire-operate) costs $28 a night. From the Guide:

Park spokesman Andrew White said the fee adjustment is normal and part of the park’s annual review of programs.

“It’s not a response to any sort of budget issue,” White said. “We’re just making sure we’re recovering the cost associated with these programs.”

[…]

The cost to operate each program differs, White said.

Backcountry permit fees cover the cost of free bear-canister use, an educational video, trail use and site maintenance. But the big driver of the cost is the use of the Recreation.gov website.

The website is used by the park to manage reservations. It’s operated by a private contractor, White said, and it recently changed hands. The fees the park pays increased after that.

“That fee increased rather significantly this year,” White said, “from $2 to $10 a permit.”

Permits for special events and weddings require extra site monitoring and cleanup, White said. The fee for non-motorized boats may have gone up $2, White said, but the fee was actually lowered from $20 in 2015.

“The increase to $12 is still pretty modest,” he said.

White also notes the backcountry permit fee was first instituted in 2014. Prior to that, permits were free.

As mentioned, Grand Teton’s announcement comes at the same time the NPS is mulling “peak season entry fees” for 17 popular national parks. Under the fee proposal, the cost of a seven-day entry fee for vehicles would go from $30 to $70. For motorcycles, the cost would rise from $25 to $50. And for people on foot or bike, the cost would go from $15 to $30.

The NPS argues the fee hike is necessary to help make in-roads into the agency’s maintenance backlog, valued at approximately $12 billion. Critics say the hike prices people out of most popular national parks.

The NPS opened public comment on the proposal, with an original deadline set for late-November. It has since been extended to December 22, 2017.

About Sean Reichard

Sean Reichard is the editor of Yellowstone Insider and author of Yellowstone Insider For Families 2017.

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