Interior Department Proposes Doubling the Cost of Visiting National Parks

The plan would raise much-needed revenue for the National Parks Service.

Visitors watch the sun set over the Grand Canyon.

Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke wants to more than double the cost of visiting 17 of the most popular U.S. national parks when demand for them is the highest. Call it surge pricing for America's most treasured places. 

Under the proposed plan, visitors to the Grand Canyon, Zion, Yosemite, and 14 other national parks could be paying $70 during peak seasons instead of $30.

Zinke said his plan will raise $70 million in much-needed revenue for the National Park Service, which already suffers from a multibillion-dollar maintenance backlog

“The infrastructure of our national parks is aging and in need of renovation and restoration,” Zinke said in a statement. “Targeted fee increases at some of our most-visited parks will help ensure that they are protected and preserved in perpetuity."

There's another reason the National Park Service could use the extra cash: President Donald Trump wants to slash its funding by $300 million. The money Zinke expects to generate through higher entry fees would offset less than a quarter of that amount. 

Zinke has previously proposed cutting 4,000 of his own employees and radically reorganizing the agency. He’s also been looking for ways to raise revenue from the energy industry, for instance, offering more federal oil and gas for lease than the last administration.

Congress might not grant Trump's budget request when it sets federal funding for fiscal year 2018, but Zinke’s proposal makes it clear that he is in line with his boss's goals. 

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