Here's the whole press release, announcing the changes. And while some will argue that these fees make access to the park more difficult for those in need, we'd point out that it's still cheaper to take a family of four to Yosemite than it is to take them to a major new movie...
Yosemite National Park announces entrance fees and campground fees will increase beginning March 1, 2015. The new fee structure includes modifications to the October 2014 draft proposal based on public input.
During the civic engagement period, the park received 2,430 e-mails in response to the proposal, 1,222 comments on the park's Facebook page, and 16 mailed letters. Input received from the public during civic engagement led to significant changes to the park's fee increase proposal.
"We want to thank all the members of the public that submitted input. Based on the public comments received, the park was able to make some important modifications to the final proposal," stated Don Neubacher, Yosemite National Park Superintendent. "The fee increases proposed will help the park keep up with inflation."
To respond to public input, Yosemite National Park will introduce a lower seasonal rate for the seven-day vehicle entrance pass. The lower rate of $25 will be available January through March and November through December. Yosemite National Park will also phase the implementation of the motorcycle entrance fee. Currently, motorcyclists entering the park are assessed $10 per individual. The park amended the initial proposal of $25 per motorcycle to $15 per motorcycle in 2015 and $20 per motorcycle in 2016. In regard to camping fees, the basic rates were only increased approximately 20%.
"With additional entrance fees, we will be able to complete some critical projects in the next few years that benefit park visitors," stated Randy Fong, Division Chief of Project Management. "We want everyone to know that 80% of the revenue stays here in Yosemite National Park to make these projects a reality. Without the funding, the projects will simply not get implemented."
Fee projects planned for the future include restoration projects in Tuolumne Meadows and along the Merced River in Yosemite Valley, improved parking, wayfinding, and traffic flow for park visitors, rehabilitation of popular trails including the John Muir Trail and the Mist Trail, an improved emergency communication data network, restroom improvements, and expanded educational youth programs. Additionally, funding will be designated to expand campsites at popular Yosemite Valley campgrounds, such as Camp 4 and Upper Pines.
The last entrance fee increase in Yosemite National Park occurred in 1997 when fees were raised from $5 to $20 for private vehicles. The new proposed increase will make Yosemite entrance fees comparable to the cost of other large parks across the country, including Yellowstone, Grand Canyon, and Zion National Parks. In addition, the fee increases will help the park keep up with inflation. It takes $29 today to buy something in 1997 for $20.
Yosemite National Park is a strong economic engine for the region and local communities. Yosemite National Park generates $373 million in economic benefit to the local region and directly supports over 5,000 jobs. Previous fee increases have had no effect on visitation levels. This fee increase is part of a larger National Park Service initiative to standardize fees in similar national parks across the country.
A summary of the fee increase for all the fee categories follows. The single vehicle entrance fee will raise from $20 per vehicle to $25 per vehicle for the month of March 2015, then to $30 per vehicle starting in April through October 2015. The new vehicle entrance fee is good for a seven day visit to Yosemite National Park. In November 2015, the vehicle entrance fee will decrease to $25 per vehicle. The park will implement low-season entrance fees of $25 per vehicle for the months of November through March in 2015 and 2016. High season, April through October, entrance fees will be $30 per vehicle in 2015 and 2016.
The park's annual pass will increase from $40 to $60, also on March 1. Currently, motorcycles are charged the $10 per individual rate. The new fee changes will include a flat rate per motorcycle of $15. Implementation of the new motorcycle entrance fee will be phased over the next several years. The rate will change to $15 per motorcycle on March 1, 2015. The rate will adjust to $20 per motorcycle in 2016. Interagency Passes, which are honored at all federally managed land units, are not affected by the proposed fee increase and will remain at $80 for the regular pass, $10 for the Senior Pass and free for the Access and Military passes. Fees for commercial buses are also not affected by these changes.
Campground fees, which have been in place since 2006, will also increase on March 1, 2015. Camping fees currently range from $5 per night to $20 per night for family sites and $40 per night for group sites. The fee increase will change the rates from $6 per night to $26 per night for family sites and $50 per night for group sites. Campsite reservations can be made up to five months in advance. Campsites requiring reservations will see the increase in camping fees starting on February 15, 2015, for reservations between June 15 and July 14, 2015. However, all first-come, first-served campground fees will increase on March 1.
For a schedule of the fee increase implementation, please see the table below.