ST. GEORGE — National Park Service units that collect entrance fees and recreation fees from park visitors are beginning public engagement to seek comments on possible changes in park fees and an Open House will be held in Cedar City Thursday particular to Zion, Bryce Canyon national parks and Cedar Breaks National Monument.
National park units are strong economic engines for Utah. In 2013, almost 9 million visitors to the national parks in Utah contributed $596.5 million to the state’s economy, according to press releases, and supported 9,069 jobs related to tourism.
Periodically the National Park Service reviews its fee rates and fee proposals locally are part of a broader assessment underway across the nation. Parks may change recreation fees to align with the the National Park Service’s new standard entrance fee schedule, which was last updated in 2006. The new fees could be implemented as early as May 2015. However, the fee increases and implementation schedule may change based on the results of public comments received at an open house Thursday, particulars below, and those being collected through different avenues such as websites and email.
Each park will carefully consider comments received from all sources, and will develop an appropriate fee and implementation schedule.
National Park entrance fees are not charged for persons under 16 years of age. Costs for passes covered under the America the Beautiful National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass Program will not be changed at this time. These passes include: Interagency Annual, Interagency Senior, Interagency Military, Interagency Access, and Volunteer. Additional information on each pass can be found at the National Parks website. These passes can be purchased at any National Park site.
Zion National Park
Zion is proposing an increase to its camping, entrance, and wilderness permit fees. The last time entrance fees were increased at Zion was in 2007. The current camping fees date back to 2004 and wilderness permit fees to 2005.
Under the authority of the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act, Zion retains 80 percent of the recreation fees it collects. Fee revenue from Zion National Park entrance stations and campgrounds has provided funding for over 24 major projects since 2010, according to a press release. Projects in Zion include rehabilitation of South Campground roads and restrooms (2010-2014), construction of a new visitor restroom at the Temple of Sinawava, preservation of the Historic Cable Mountain Draw Works and operation of the visitor shuttle bus system, among numerous other projects. All of the projects focused on improvements to visitor services, facilities, and visitor safety.
“The fee revenue is critical to the park,” Zion National Park Superintendent Jeff Bradybaugh said. “Funds from entrance, camping and other fees are used to improve and maintain our facilities and provide valuable visitor services.”
More than 70 percent of the entrance fees are used to operate the shuttle bus system in the park and the town of Springdale. The bus system improves park operations and visitor experience by decreasing vehicle congestion in Zion Canyon, improving air quality, and providing visitors safe and easy access to popular park features. The shuttle buses are 15 years old and maintenance costs are increasing. An increase in entrance fees would help maintain shuttle facilities, as well as the aging buses and help to begin the replacement of the fleet. Below is a comparison of current and proposed entrance fees.
|Entrance||Current Fee||Proposed Fee|
|1-7 day private, noncommercial vehicle||$25 per vehicle||$30 per vehicle|
|1-7 day motorcycle||$12 per person||$25 per motorcycle|
|1-7 day individual per-person (hiker, bicyclist, etc.)||$12 per person||$15 per person|
|Zion annual pass||$50||$60|
Increased campground revenue will be used to maintain and rehabilitate the park’s three campgrounds. Projects could include rehabilitating and upgrading restrooms and other facilities to Americans with Disabilities Act standards. In addition, revenue has not kept pace with rising electric power costs and campsites with electric service have been operating at a deficit. Below is a comparison of current and proposed fees for campgrounds.
|Watchman and South Campgrounds (single sites)||Current Fee||Proposed Fee|
|Campsites without electric hookups||$16||$20|
|Campsites with electric hookups||$18-$20||$30|
Group camp fees are also proposed to be changed from a per person fee ($3 per person) to a flat rate per group size. Below is the proposed fee structure per group size.
|Number of People in Group||Proposed Fee|
A fee increase for wilderness permits is proposed to ensure wilderness resources and experience are protected for those visiting today and in the future. Wilderness permit fees are used to answer public inquiries on wilderness activities and permit requirements by visitors in person, on line and by telephone; provide preventative search and rescue patrols; monitor wilderness resource condition; and maintain wilderness campsites and trails.
|Number of People in Group||Current Fee||Proposed Fee|
Open house for comment – Zion, Bryce Canyon national parks and Cedar Breaks National Monument
A public open house for the proposed fee increases for Zion National Park and its sister parks, Cedar Breaks National Monument and Bryce Canyon National Park, will be held on Thursday, Jan. 8, at the Iron County Visitor Center from 5-7 p.m. The office is located at 581 North Main Street in Cedar City.
Superintendents and staff from all three park areas will be in attendance at the open house to provide information and answer questions.
Over 80 percent of collected fee revenues are reinvested directly back into the park they are collected within. In Bryce Canyon, recently funded projects include new comfort stations, new museum exhibits, trail rehabilitation projects, and operation of the park’s popular visitor shuttle bus system.
Recent fee-funded projects accomplished at Cedar Breaks include the addition of hot showers and other improvements in the campground, and many trail and potable water system improvements. A new ADA accessible trail from the Visitor Center area to Sunset View Overlook is planned for 2015.
Future revenues from the proposed fee increases will be used to support and enhance other visitor services including maintenance of park facilities, additional upgrades to campgrounds, restoration of historic buildings and landscapes, and additional park interpretive and educational programs.
- To comment on Zion National Park:
- Time period: Dec. 9, 2014, through Jan. 23
- Online commenting available at the National Park Service planning website.
- Written comments: Fee Program Coordinator, Zion National Park, Springdale, Utah 84767
- To comment on Bryce Canyon:
- Time period: Dec. 9, 2014 through Jan. 12
- Online commenting available at National Park Service planning website; search “Bryce Canyon Proposed Entrance and Campground Fee Modifications”
- Written comments: Superintendent, Bryce Canyon National Park, Attn: Fee Proposal, PO Box 640201, Bryce, Utah 84764
- To comment on Cedar Breaks:
Open house details and resources
- What: Open house to hear public comment
- When: Thursday, Jan. 8 from 5-7 p.m.
- Where: Iron County Visitor Center, 581 North Main Street, Cedar City, Utah 84721
- Zion National Park website | www.parkplanning.nps.gov/zion
- Information about the 2013 National Park Visitor Spending Effects
- Pipe Spring National Monument proposes entrance fee increase
- Grand Canyon National Park proposes entrance fee increase
- BLM hosts conference on fee increases, Greater Sage-Grouse; public comment period
- Zion National Park invites comments on proposed increase in fees