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Fee-Free Days at National Parks Drops to Four

Posted by Rachel Wendling at Dec 18, 2017 12:32 PM |

The National Park Service slashed the number of fee-free days to just four in 2018. This news comes soon after the agency announced a proposed fee increase at 17 of the most popular parks.

This past week, the National Park Service announced its fee-free days for 2018.

In 2018, visitors will have only four fee-free days to choose from; Martin Luther King Jr. Day (Jan 15), day one of National Park Week (April 21), National Public Lands Day (Sept 22) and Veterans Day (Nov 11).

National Park fee-free days began as an incentive in 2003 to help empower new visitors to explore their public lands. From 2003-2008, the park celebrated two fee-free days every year, and that number has been growing ever since. In 2016, the department offered a whopping 16 days of free entrance to commemorate the 100th birthday of National Parks.

The availability of fee-free days on all public lands is a great chance for new visitors to try their hand at hiking and explore what our country's wild lands have to offer. With only four fee-free days a year, many new visitors will miss out on their chance for an affordable trip.

Fremont Lookout by Sam Ortiz.jpgIn 2018, places like Fremont Lookout in Mount Rainier National Park will only be available for free 4 days out of the year. Photo by Sam Ortiz.

Fee Hikes proposed across the country

The fee-free news comes soon after the National Park Service proposed increasing park entrance costs at 17 popular parks (including Mount Rainier and Olympic National Parks) by nearly 200 percent, from $25 dollars to $70. 

The steep increases being proposed will make it harder for some trail users to visit these public lands. A bipartisan poll released Dec. 20 by the Outdoor Alliance for Kids found that 64 percent of Americans say they would be less likely to visit a national park if fees were increased. That number climbs to 71 percent for families with household incomes under $30,000.

WTA believes that everyone should have access to our public lands. We are committed to ensuring all people have the opportunity to discover the joys of hiking. WTA also recognizes the need to invest in our national parks and forest. And, the most effective way to adequately fund parks is by Congress appropriating more funding to our treasured public lands, not through this uneven entry fee increase.

Take action

The National Park Service has invited the public to comment on the proposed fee increases. The comment period will be open until December 22, 2017. Make your voice heard and leave your comments today.

Sign up for the Trail Action Network for updates on this and other important issues that affect hikers.