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NPS reveals new entrance fees, CUA proposal

April 24, 2018

The U.S. National Park Service announced April 12 that it would apply a $5 increase to all parks currently collecting entrance fees. It also recently shared revised plans to Commercial Use Authorization fees and requirements for motorcoach groups traveling to national parks, which will be implemented Oct. 1, 2019.

Click here to review the NPS Advisory: Standardization of Commercial Use Authorization Process for Operators of Road-based Commercial Tours.

The increase is part of NPS’s ongoing efforts to address aging park infrastructure and improve the visitor experience. The changes, which come in response to public comments on a fee proposal released in October 2017, will modestly increase entrance fees to raise additional revenue to address the $11.6 billion in deferred maintenance across the system of 417 parks, historic and cultural sites, and monuments.

Most seven-day vehicle passes to enter national parks will be increased by $5 and will be implemented in many parks beginning June 1, 2018. Yosemite National Park for example will increase the price of a seven-day vehicle pass to the park from $30 to $35. More than two-thirds of national parks will remain free to enter. A complete list of park entrance fees may be found here.

  • The proposal no longer includes seasonal peak pricing at 17 of the most visited parks.
  • CUA permits, which will have a non-refundable $300 application fee, are required by a commercial tour operator for each park visited.
  • Operators will pay the per-passenger fee (if the entity charges an entry fee) for each group entering a park.

All of the revenue from the fee increases will remain in the National Park Service with at least 80 percent of the money staying in the park where it is collected. The funds will be used for projects and activities to improve the experience for visitors who continue to visit parks at unprecedented levels. Increased attendance at parks, 1.5 billion visits in the last five years, means aging park facilities incurring further wear and tear.

NPS is standardizing road-based commercial tour CUA requirements and fees agency-wide. Currently, road-based commercial tour operators must deal with varying permitting processes and associated fees.

The standard process affects road-based commercial tour operations occurring after Sept. 30, 2019. After that date, road-based commercial tour operators are required to:

  • Obtain a CUA for each NPS unit in which they operate;
  • Pay required CUA fees (see below), and;
  • Submit mandatory annual CUA reports after each CUA operating season.

Click here to visit the NPS CUA website, which provides an informational Q&A, maps and other resources. NTA will continue to work with its industry coalition partners of ABA, UMA, SYTA, USTOA, IMG and IITA to seek more clarification and information with the Department of the Interior and National Park Service. The coalition has represented the tourism industry through establishing meetings with officials, writing letters on behalf of our respective memberships and participating in lobbying events such as Destination Capitol Hill.

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