ESTES PARK, Colo. -- Tour guides say they could be priced out of Rocky Mountain National Park if a fee increase goes through.
Tucked inside the National Park Service proposal to raise rates is a drastic hike for vans, buses and motor coaches. A local tour guide said this could force their business to stop operating in the park or leave them with no choice but to drastically raise rates.
“This is why it was made, the park was put there for people to go and enjoy, everyday people, to be able to go and enjoy the park," said Kevin Gardner with Wildside 4x4 Tours.
The proposal would raise fees at 17 of the parks during the busy summer season, including Rocky Mountain National Park. The gate charge for a car would be $70, more than triple the current $20 entry fee.
Gardner said they would typically pay around $100 to bring in a van with 10 people. Under the proposed prices he said it would be $370 plus a $5 per person additional fee.
"We believe there’s going to be a pretty significant decrease, not only in our industry but in everything combined up in Estes Park," said Gardner.
Some people are in favor of the price jump, hoping it will help preserve the land. One viewer wrote Denver7, "The price change for access to Rocky Mountain National Park is to save the park. It is overused. Complaints about restricted access are ridiculous."
In a statement from the National Parks Service, a spokesperson said all commercial use fees would stay within the collecting park and would fund rehabilitation projects for buildings, facilities, parking lots, roads, and wayside exhibits that would enhance the visitor experience. The spokesperson also pointed out the fees would cover administrative costs associated with reviewing and processing commercial applications.