Entrance fees waived on Monument

Colorado National Monument Ranger Dan Rosenthal waves drivers by at the east gate of the monument. Three weekends will be fee free at the monument this summer: June 20-21, July 18-19 and Aug 15-17



Show your father how much you love him and treat him to Father’s Day at Colorado National Monument. He’ll never have to know it’s free.

On June 20-21, Father’s Day weekend, Colorado National Monument and 146 other National Park Service sites across the country will celebrate the first of three fee-free weekends planned for the summer. It’s part of a plan to boost visitation to some of America’s last best places.

Entry fees also will be waived July 18-19 and Aug. 15-16.

“During these tough economic times, our national parks provide opportunities for affordable vacations for families,” Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, a Colorado native, said last week. “I encourage everyone to visit one of our nation’s crown jewels this summer and especially to take advantage of the three, free-admission weekends.”

Among the eight Colorado sites waiving their entry fees on those weekends are Black Canyon of the Gunnison, Mesa Verde and Rocky Mountain national parks.

A list of all fee-free sites is available at http://www.nps.gov/findapark/feefreeparksbystate.htm.

All other fees, including camping, reservation and concessionaire fees, where applicable, will be collected.

“We like to think of ourselves as a really great bargain year-round, but perhaps for some people paying the extremely modest $7 entrance fee is more than they can handle at this time,” said Joan Anzelmo, superintendent at Colorado National Monument.

The National Park Service said the fees being waived range from $3 to $25.

Colorado National Monument attracts between 400,000 and 450,000 recreation visits each year, as well as another 260,000 or so nonrecreational visits, mostly commuters heading to Glade Park or deliveries to the area, Anzelmo said.

“Recently, recreation visits have been greater than the nonrecreation, and for a long time it was the other way around,” Anzelmo said. “Our visits are on an upward spiral as we see more and more people use Colorado National Monument every year. We’re on the path to seeing 1 million people here.”

In response to increased visitation, entrance booths at Colorado National Monument now are staffed longer each day and more days of the year, Anzelmo said.

The Federal Lands Recreational Enhancement Act of 1996 (and renewed in 2004) allows parks to retain money raised in entrance fees.

Salazar spokeswoman Kendra Barkoff told the Associated Press that giving up entrance fees for the three weekends could cost the Park Service about $500,000 in lost revenue.

Barkoff said it’s thought park-related tourism income would increase for gift shops, outfitters, restaurants, hotels and other local businesses.

Colorado National Monument entry fees allow the local staff “the ability to maintain and manage the park at the levels Americans have come to expect,” Anzelmo said.

Entrance fees at Colorado National Monument currently are being bankrolled to pay for a $400,000 renovation to the Visitor Center exhibition center, which is planned for completion in time for the monument’s 2011 centennial celebration.


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