44% Say Admission to National Parks Should Be Free

Forty-four percent (44%) of American adults think admission to U.S. national parks should always be free, according to a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey.

But slightly more adults (47%) think the cost of admission should cover the costs of maintaining those parks.

Of those who have visited a national park at least once over the past five years, 50% say admission costs should cover maintenance while 43% say admission should be free. Those adults who have not visited national parks during that time favor free admission slightly more, 48% to 44%.


I think I paid $25 to get into the Grand Canyon last year.

yes, the price for going to the grand canyon is really steep.

personally, since i live in arizona, i think people who reside in the state, should be able to enter all national parks and monuments free here. other sites are around $5 and your receipt is usually good for 7 days.

the grand canyon is visited annually by people around the country and the world, and i think it would be nice not to charge residents. of course, i am sure, people would find some way around that.

is the grand canyon $25 per vechicle or per person. if it is per vehicle, that is pretty much in line with what they would charge per person at other areas.

i don’t know what the budget is for the national park system and i think it would be great if they were open to everyone. recently, i had a bad experience with a park ranger at a local site when we decided not to pay the fee because it was late in the afternoon and we did not come prepared for the climbing we would need to do. so we walked outside the information center and were just looking around and he told us we couldn’t go anywhere since we hadn’t paid. he was very rude and i made a complaint about him.
the parks i have visited are clean and well maintained.

Someone has to pay the bills to maintain the parks and pay for those who do it. Why not the people who frequent the parks rather than everyone in the United States. Makes sense to me.

I love going to both state and national parks, and I have absolutely no problem paying for admission, parking, etc. I want the parks maintained, and I don’t think it’s unreasonable to have the people who use them pay for that.

The standard national park entry fee, levied per passenger vehicle, is $20.

There is an Annual Pass, which is good at all national parks plus other federal recreational facilities; its cost is $80.

Some years I visit enough of these parks that I purchase the annual pass. Others years I don’t visit parks as often, so I just pay $20 at each one.

I have no problem with these fees, which are quite reasonable. In fact, I wouldn’t mind paying more, on the principle that those who use facilities should carry the chief burden of operating them. It certainly can’t be considered a hardship for people to pony up $20 when they’re spending 50 or 100 times that just to go on their vacation!

There is another pass that I do object to. It’s the Senior Pass. It can be purchased by people age 62 and over, costs just $10, and is good for a lifetime. I don’t think people of retirement age (which I’m nearing) should be subsidized this way, while young families are expected to pay the regular fees. I’m not arguing for a subsidy for the young; I don’t think any group should be subsidized, because there’s no end to the mischief that can result.

The irony is that Americans in their 60s have more net wealth and more disposable income than those in any other 10-year age bracket, so they are the ones who least “need” such subsidizing. Younger people may have larger gross incomes, but seniors, as a group, have lower expenses, chiefly because those of them who are homeowners tend to have no mortgage to pay. This means they end up with more disposable income.

You see a disproportionate number of seniors at national parks not just because they have more free time but because they have more money to spend on trips.

I’m torn here. Charging admission to national parks to defray to the costs of running them is not at all a bad idea; that’s how beaches work in New Jersey. My concern is that there’ll be an attempt to privatize the parks, and close the ones that don’t make money, which would pervert the purpose of the National Park system, which is first and foremost preservation.

In other words, I don’t have a problem with this being used to supplement the NPS, but the service should not become reliant on tourism dollars and subject to closings because they aren’t making money.

I agree with you. Privatizing the parks would be ruinous to them. The ones I visit the most–Grand Canyon, Sequoia, Kings Canyon, Yosemite–have sufficient development to allow just about anyone to see key features, but they also preserve large swaths of wilderness, and I’m all for that.

The National Park Service and the other federal agencies that manage public recreational lands are perhaps the only segment of the federal budget that I’d steer more money to. (The parks are woefully understaffed, with far fewer rangers, for instance, than they once had.)

All other segments of the federal government I’d cut by at least 50% (in pre-Obama budget dollars), but I’d give the NPS and the other agencies a few billion dollars more than they’ve had in recent years.

Covering the cost of maintenance is fine with me. I have a Gold Eagle pass, but seldom use it, opting to help pay to keep our parks open.

However, last month I visited a national park that had a variety of admission prices, the lowest of which was $10 per car. But, because we were members of a non-profit organization, we were charged an extra $5 per car. We had five people in each car.

Breaking even in the operation of the parks makes sense, and some of our parks are being “loved to death” so cost of maintaining them, roads, sanitation, etc., as well as weather-related costs might well mean that more must be charged in those than in less popular locations.

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