News Briefs: Park fees rise this weekend

As part of a nationwide national parks initiative, Shenandoah National Park will begin charging increased entrance fees tomorrow (Friday, May 1). The fee increases are being implemented in two stages, with another increase in 2017.

Starting tomorrow, the fee for an annual park pass goes up from $30 to $40. The fee will increase to $50 on Jan. 1, 2017. Motorists will pay $20 per vehicle for up to seven days, up from $15. The fee will increase to $25 on Jan. 1, 2017. A similar fee for motorcyclists will increase from $10 to $15, and then to $20 on Jan. 1, 2017.

There also will be a $10 per-person fee for visitors participating in van tours to Rapidan Camp, President Hoover’s former retreat and a National Historic Landmark located within the park.

During a public comment period on the proposed fee increases in December, Shenandoah National Park received more than 240 formal comments through emails, letters and online comments, as well as more than 100 comments on the park’s Facebook page. While the majority supported an increase, according to a park press release, many felt that the original proposal was too much of an increase to make all at once. The park modified the proposal to phase in the entrance fee increases.

“The fee program is critical to the park,” said Jim Northup, Shenandoah National Park’s superintendent. “Eighty percent of fees collected stay right here in the park and are put to work improving facilities and services important to visitors. Without this funding, park staff would have to forego these projects. The additional revenue from this increase will allow us to sustain this world-class park.”

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