Monument fees to go up May 2

PHOTO BY CHRISTOPHER TOMLINSON—A desert bighorn sheep walks beneath a cliff in Fruita Canyon in the west end of Colorado National Monument, where entry fees will increase for the first time since 2006 and camping fees for the first time in 15 years. Superintendent Joan Anzelmo said fee revenue pays for improvements at the monument.


Per vehicle, unless noted

• Great Sand Dunes National Park, $3*

• Capitol Reef National Park, $5

• Arches National Park, $10

• Canyonlands National Park, $10

• Dinosaur National Monument, $10**

• Mesa Verde National Park, $10 or $15, depending on time of year

• Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, $15

• Bryce Canyon National Park, $25

• Zion National Park, $25

* Fee is per adult

** Fee is being waived because of visitor center construction

Celebrating Colorado National Monument’s centennial with a hike or bike ride through the 32-square-mile playland will cost you more starting May 2.

Monument officials announced Monday the National Park Service director approved a proposal to hike entrance and camping fees, saying the increase brings the monument in line with other national parks and monuments in the region while paying for needed infrastructure improvements.

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

The 43 percent increase in the vehicle entrance fee is 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 unveiled plans last May to boost fees and invited the public to offer feedback. Monument Superintendent Joan Anzelmo said she received a total of 12 online comments, with a few opposed to all fee increases and a few opposed only to the campground fee increases. The rest, she said, were supportive.

“Most people said ‘$10, it’s a fair price; it’s a good value for your money,’ ” Anzelmo said.

“I realize not everyone will agree with it, but this is something we evaluated. We looked at adjacent national parks,” she said.

Anzelmo noted the monument will have 17 days this year when people can enter the monument free, “so visitors will always have a few days a year where they can come in as our guest.”

The fee hike means the monument costs as much to get into as places including Arches and Canyonlands national parks and Dinosaur National Monument. The monument’s fee exceeds Hovenweep and Natural Bridges national monuments but ranks below Black Canyon of the Gunnison and Mesa Verde national parks.

The monument’s visitation and fee revenue have, for the most part, steadily increased in recent years. More than 738,000 people passed through the entrance stations last year, a record and a 9 percent uptick since 2005. Gate revenue more than doubled from $221,000 in 2005 to $454,000 in 2010, although revenue actually dropped by about $7,000 last year compared with 2009.

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 are funding the replacement of the exhibits at the visitor center, all of which are more than 40 years old, and the replacement of wayside exhibits at 19 scenic overlooks. Both projects should be completed in June.

After that, the next slate of projects includes replacing a water line at the Saddlehorn Campground, adding parking spots for the disabled at a few overlooks and upgrading the west entrance station by adding a restroom and improving the station’s heating and cooling system, Anzelmo said.

The monument has a limited supply of preprinted $20 annual passes it will continue to sell for $20, even if they’re purchased after May 2. The passes can be purchased at both entrance stations, the visitor center and through the mail by calling 970-858-3617, ext. 334.


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