A light blue lake resting in a valley between two tree-filled mountains; clouds dotting a grey-blue sky.

National Parks

Ensur­ing Pub­lic Access to Amer­i­ca’s Nation­al Parks

Attor­neys gen­er­al have also worked to pro­tect the abil­i­ty of low-income com­mu­ni­ties and com­mu­ni­ties of col­or to access the nation’s stun­ning pub­lic lands.

2017-2021

  • Octo­ber 2017

    In Octo­ber 2017, the Nation­al Park Ser­vice (NPS) announced it was con­sid­er­ing increas­ing fees dur­ing peak sea­son at 17 high­ly vis­it­ed Nation­al Parks. Dur­ing the five-month peak sea­son, the per vehi­cle entrance fee would increase to $70 from $25 or $30, while entrance fees for motor­cy­cles, bicy­cles, and pedes­tri­ans would more than double.

  • Novem­ber 2017

    In Novem­ber 2017, a bipar­ti­san group of state attor­neys gen­er­al from 10 states and the Dis­trict of Colum­bia sub­mit­ted com­ments to the Nation­al Park Ser­vice oppos­ing its pro­posed entrance fee hikes. The com­ments expressed con­cern that increased fees would reduce access to Nation­al Parks for groups that are already under­rep­re­sent­ed in nation­al park usage, includ­ing low-income com­mu­ni­ties and com­mu­ni­ties of color.

    The attor­neys gen­er­al also not­ed that NPS had not offered a rea­soned expla­na­tion for the pro­posed fee. For exam­ple, instead of increas­ing rev­enue to pay for the park sys­tem’s main­te­nance back­log, the fee hike might exac­er­bate the short­fall by low­er­ing vis­i­ta­tion rates and asso­ci­at­ed park rev­enue. Fur­ther, NPS failed to include any analy­sis, or sup­port­ing data, of the cri­te­ria NPS is required to con­sid­er in estab­lish­ing vis­i­tor fee rates under the Fed­er­al Land Recre­ation Enhance­ment Act. This includes con­sid­er­a­tion of com­pa­ra­ble fees charged by pub­lic and pri­vate sec­tor oper­a­tors, and the pub­lic pol­i­cy or man­age­ment objec­tives served by the high­er fees.

  • April 2018

    The Nation­al Parks Ser­vice announced in April 2018 that it would increase fees to enter nation­al parks by just $5, in response to the com­ments sub­mit­ted by the attor­neys gen­er­al and oth­ers opposed to the much high­er pro­posed fee hike.