Monument fee may rise from $7 to $10

Wedding Canyon in Colorado National Monument.

Colorado National Monument officials are proposing to increase entrance and camping fees next year, saying they believe the hike is fair because the cost to recreate in the monument is among the lowest anywhere in the national parks system.

The National Park Service would raise fees for a seven-day pass from $7 to $10 per vehicle and from $4 to $5 per hiker or cyclist. An annual pass would increase from $20 to $25. One-night campground fees would double from $10 to $20.

Fees for commercial sedans, vans and buses would remain the same.

The fee increase would coincide with the monument’s 100th anniversary. Monument Superintendent Joan Anzelmo said if the National Park Service director approves the proposal, the fee hike could begin in January but would more likely take effect in the spring.

“We think it’s a modest request and hopefully one the community will support,” Anzelmo said.

The 43 percent increase in the vehicle entrance fee would be the first fee hike since 2006, when the monument added $2 to the $5 fee. Campground fees haven’t been raised in 15 years.

The monument’s visitation and fee revenue have steadily increased in recent years. More than 717,000 people passed through the entrance stations last year, a 6 percent uptick since 2005. Gate revenues have more than doubled from $221,000 in 2005 to $462,000 in 2009, Anzelmo said.

She said it’s possible fee revenue will exceed $500,000 this year, which would mean 20 percent of that revenue would be divided among national parks that don’t collect fees. Currently, the monument gets to keep all of the fees it collects.

Anzelmo said entrance and campground fees are used to improve entrance stations, visitor facilities and park trails. Fees recently were used to make infrastructure improvements to the visitor center and upgrade a restroom in the Saddlehorn Campground that was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps but had been closed for 15 years because of hazardous materials and inadequate sewer lines. Fees also are funding the replacement of the exhibits at the visitor center, all of which are original and more than 40 years old.

Anzelmo said she has visited with numerous groups in the community about the proposed increase and “by and large people have been in favor of it.” She also noted the monument is sensitive to the recession and the fact some people may be unable or unwilling to pay the additional cost, which is why she’s seeking public input.

“We’re trying to make dollars stretch as far as they can,” she said. “We hope the community feels they’re getting a good deal.”


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