The good news: People across the country still appreciate nature and spend lots of time at national parks.
The not-as-good news: The record-shattering visitation numbers are putting a strain on each park's resources, now in dire need of maintenance.
In order to raise money for the various infrastructure projects that are scheduled to revamp the parks, the National Park Service "is considering a steep increase in entrance fees at 17 of its most popular parks, mostly in the U.S. West," reports CBS News.
The affected parks are Arches, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands and Zion in Utah; Yosemite, Sequoia & Kings Canyon and Joshua Tree in California; Grand Teton and Yellowstone in Wyoming; Mount Rainier and Olympic in Washington; Shenandoah in Virginia; Acadia in Maine; Rocky Mountain in Colorado; the Grand Canyon in Arizona; and Denali in Alaska.
The proposed price hike would only apply from May through September, usually the busiest time across all areas, and exclude the usual free weekends and holidays that the parks sponsor throughout the year. Specifically, the fee would increase from $25-$30 for a weekly pass to $70 per vehicle. Annual passes ($80) that offer access to federal lands would not change but pedestrians and motorcyclists will have to pay a bit more. The National Park Service estimates that the changes will help raise $70 million a year.
Fun fact: Not all parks charge entrance fees. The 118 that do keep 80% of the profits for themselves, to improve their own infrastructure, and send the remaining 20% to other parks that offer visitors free access.
As of now, The National Park Service is in a 30-day public comment period, so we'll have to wait a few weeks to know whether the proposal will have gone through. In the meantime, get acquainted with this map, highlighting the most efficient way to see most national parks across the country.