Fees to increase at sand dunes

© 2018-Alamosa News

MOSCA – The National Park Service (NPS) announced on April 12 that Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve will modify its entrance fees to provide additional funding for infrastructure and maintenance needs. Effective January 1, 2019 the entrance fees (valid for seven days) to the park will be $25 per vehicle, $15 per person, or $20 per motorcycle. An annual park pass will cost $45.

All of the money received from entrance fees remains with the National Park Service with at least 80 percent of the revenue going to Great Sand Dunes to ensure a quality experience for all who visit. The other 20 percent of entry fee income is shared with other non-fee-charging national parks for their projects.

In response to public comments on a fee proposal released in October 2017, there will be a modest increase for all entrance fee-charging parks, rather than the higher peak-season fees initially proposed only for 17 highly-visited national parks.

“Entrance fees collected at Great Sand Dunes support infrastructure projects that enhance the visitor’s experience,” stated Acting Superintendent Tucker Blythe. “In recent years, the park has been able to use fee revenue to maintain, repair and improve our facilities, enhance essential visitor services such as events and programs, restore critical habitat for the wildlife that visitors come to see and enjoy, and to support our law enforcement rangers in their public safety duties.” 

National parks have experienced record-breaking visitation, with more than 1.5 billion visitors in the last five years. Throughout the country, the combination of an aging infrastructure and increased visitation has put a strain on park roads, bridges, campgrounds, waterlines, bathrooms, and other visitor services and led to a $11.6 billion deferred maintenance backlog nationwide.

The additional revenue from entrance fees at Great Sand Dunes will support the renovation of the visitor center interior exhibits, upgrades to water distribution lines in the Pinon Flats Campground and the Mosca Creek Picnic Area, the restoration of Rio Grande Cutthroat Fish habitat along Sand Creek, replacement of exterior doors on comfort stations and visitor center, and rehabilitation of the entrance station.

Entrance fees collected by the National Park Service totaled $199.9 million in fiscal year 2016.  The NPS estimates that once fully implemented, the new fee structure will increase annual entrance fee revenue by about $60 million. 

Great Sand Dunes has charged an entrance fee since 1997. The current rate of $20 per vehicle, $10 per person, $15 per motorcycle, or $40 park annual pass has been in effect since January 1, 2018. The park is one of 117 National Park Service site that charges an entrance fee, the other 300 national parks will remain free to enter.

The price of the annual America the Beautiful National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Annual Pass and Lifetime Senior Pass will remain $80. 

The National Park Service has a standardized entrance fee structure, composed of four groups based on park size and type. Some parks not yet aligned with the other parks in their category will raise their fees incrementally and fully incorporate the new entrance fee schedule by January 1, 2020.

The complete fee schedule will change according to the following:

Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve

Per Vehicle Per Person Per Motorcycle Park Specific Annual Pass

Current $20 $10 $15 $40

Jan 1, 2019 $25 $15 $20 $45

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