After ending September with a free day, Rocky Mountain National Park is upping its entrance and camping fees effective Oct. 1, in line with many other national parks around the country.
New for the popular Colorado park is a $20 day use pass aimed at local visitors. The price of the weekly pass goes up to $30, while the price if the annual park pass is going up to $50, then $60 by 2017.
Campground fees will increase to $18 a night for winter rates and $26 a night for summer rates. Campground fees are based on comparable fees for similar services in nearby campgrounds.
In a press release, park officials said they committed to keeping Rocky Mountain National Park affordable. Under the National Park Service fee structure, 80 percent of the entrance fees stay with the park to help fund improvements and maintenance, including restroom renovations, replacement of trailhead signs and picnic tables, removing hazardous trees and operating the park's shuttle service.
Rocky Mountain National Park staff solicited public input beginning in October 2014. Based on comments received, there was significantly more support for the proposed fee rate changes than opposed. Park visitors seem to be highly supportive of fees in general and making the connection with the park's effort in providing tangible benefits to visitors through fee revenue.
The Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act (FLREA) is the legislation under which the park currently collects entrance and amenity fees. This law allows parks to retain 80 percent of the fees collected for use on projects that directly benefit visitors. The remaining 20 percent is distributed throughout the National Park System. Since the beginning of FLREA and its predecessor program Fee Demo, the park has spent over $66 million in repairs, renovations, improvements and resource restoration.
Rocky Mountain National Park is a strong economic engine for the surrounding area. In 2014, more than 3.4 million park visitors spent $217 million and supported 3,382 jobs, which had a cumulative benefit to the economy of $329 million.
In January 2005, Rocky Mountain National Park was the last of the larger size parks in the Intermountain Region to adopt the $20 per vehicle weekly rate. That same year the annual pass increased to $35, and to $40 in 2009, the last year of any increase in fees. Last year, Rocky Mountain National Park was the fifth most visited national park in the United States.