ESTES PARK, Colo. — On Friday, national parks across the country will start charging higher entrance fees. This includes Rocky Mountain National Park as well as Colorado National Monument and Dinosaur National Monument.
The fee increases vary by park, but most of them will charge an additional $5 dollars for a vehicle pass. At Rocky Mountain National Park, that means a single day pass will be $25 per vehicle. A seven day vehicle pass will now cost $35. An annual pass is now $70, an increase of $10.
The fee increases are seen as necessary to help chip away at an $11.6 billion maintenance backlog for the National Park Service. It's estimated the fees will raise an additional $60 million in annual revenue.
Rocky Mountain National Park has an $84 million dollar backlog in deferred maintenance. The increased fees will help pay for improvements to restrooms, a failing septic system, as well as trail rehab.
Park spokesperson Kyle Patterson say congressional appropriations have remained flat for the past decade, while park tourism has increased dramatically. In 2017, 4.4 million people visited Rocky Mountain National Park. The park was at capacity by 10:00 a.m. every weekend from June through September.
The Department of Interior had initially proposed a sharp increase in fees at just 17 popular national parks. Rocky Mountain National Park would have seen the price of a seven day vehicle pass double to $70 dollars. The proposal led to nationwide backlash, including in Colorado where tour guides feared they would be priced out of Rocky Mountain National Park.
Patterson says Rocky Mountain National Park will keep 80 percent of the entrance fee increase, which also go toward supporting the park's shuttle service from Estes Park.
Rocky Mountain National Park is the fourth most visited national park in the country.