National parks such as the Grand Canyon, Yosemite, Yellowstone and Zion are increasing prices from $30 to $70 per car, signifying the downfall of inexpensive family hiking trips to national parks.
A total of 17 out of 58 of the parks will increase their prices for a trial period before considering a more permanent switch.
The 30-day trial began in October and will run through late November.
This $40 increase is the beginning of the demise of national parks. Dixie State University uses its surrounding federal reserves and national parks to lure prospective students into the active learning, active life lifestyle. With the doubled and — in some cases — almost tripled fees, students are less likely to visit, or even be able to visit, as often as they once were.
An increase in price does not necessarily equate to more profit. In raising the price so drastically, it limits the amount of times people will be able to pay the fees, if at all. A group of friends who may have visited once a month might only be able to visit four times a year, bringing the hypothetical earnings from that one group from $360 per year to $280.
Or, maybe now that the annual pass for national parks is only $10 more than the one-day pass, one person from that group of friends will decide to get the annual pass instead of pay for each visit. This brings prospective earnings from $360 per year to a single $80 payment.
Despite these simple calculations, the National Park Services still expects to increase revenue about $70 million per year. According to USA Today, maintenance for all of the parks was estimated at over $11 million dollars in 2016. If maintenance truly did cost about $11 million dollars in 2016, where would the added $70 million per year be allocated to?
The increase in price will put national park admission just under the price of a Six Flags ticket, and Zion doesn’t offer roller coasters and carousels. It doesn’t seem economically practical to have prices parallel that of an amusement park nor does it seem necessary.
National parks are a truly integral aspect to southern Utah and a great treasure to people all over the country. With the drastic escalation of price, national parks are becoming less accessible and more of a luxury. This is a tragedy which can be easily remedied.
Although a $40 price surge is extreme and can negatively impact national parks, a $5 to $10 increase would seem like almost nothing in comparison and would accomplish the same effect. This increase wouldn’t yield a $70 million increase, but it would certainly raise revenue.
It is critical for national parks to remain available to as many individuals as possible, and this radical increase in admissions does not ensure feasibility for college students or struggling families.