Your Fee Dollars at Work

Horseback rider leading a line of mules carrying equipment
Entrance fees support projects such as backcountry trail maintenance.

NPS Photo

Of the more than 400 national parks in the National Park System, only 109 charge an entrance fee. The current Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act (FLREA) allows the National Park Service to collect and retain revenue and requires that fee revenue is used to enhance visitor experience. At least 80 percent of funding from recreation fees stays in the park where it is collected, and the other 20 percent is used to benefit parks that do not collect fees or parks which generate only a small amount of revenue.

What does that mean for our national parks and for you?

Using Fee Dollars in Parks

Pick a park on the map below to learn more about how they use recreation fees to benefit you.

The National Park Service is authorized to use entrance and recreation fees for a variety of items related to the visitor experience. Examples include:

  • Shiloh National Military Park in Mississippi and Tennessee installed three new restrooms on the Shiloh Battlefield. 

  • Cabrillo National Monument in California provides increased custodial maintenance services at multiple locations in the park including the visitor center,  park viewpoints, parking lots, and comfort stations. 

  • The George Washington Memorial Parkway in Virginia completed restoration of the Netherlands Carillon, a tower with 53 bells located in the Arlington Ridge area. 

  • Channel Islands National Park in California replaced their old dock on Anacapa Island so that visitors can now safely embark and disembark from boats.  

Habitat Restoration (Wildlife Dependent Recreation) 

  • Wind Cave National Park in South Dakota constructed boundary fencing to provide for a safe visitor experience to view bison and elk herds. 

  • Dry Tortugas National Park in Florida restored their coral reef habitat to improve fishing and snorkeling opportunities. 

Frequently Asked Questions About Entrance Fees

How are entrance fees determined for each park?

Since 2006, the National Park Service has had an entrance fee structure in place that simplifies and standardizes entrance fees across parks of similar types.

Why does the National Park Service charge entrance fees?

Entrance fees are an important source of revenue used to improve the visitor experience and recreation opportunities in national parks and on other federal lands.

The National Park Service is committed to enhancing the visitor experience, and fee revenue helps improve visitor facilities and infrastructure in parks.

Are the America the Beautiful passes still be valid? What do they cost?

The America the Beautiful National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass Series is still available. The Annual Pass and lifetime Senior Pass are both $80. The Access Pass, Free Annual Pass for active duty US Military, the Military Lifetime Pass for veterans and Gold Star Families, and Annual 4th Grade Pass are free.

People pay taxes; why do they have to pay to get into national parks?

Fees are an important source of revenue used to improve the visitor experience, including recreational opportunities, in national parks. Approximately 80 percent of the money from entrance fees remains in the park where it was collected. The remaining 20 percent is distributed to those parks that do not collect fees.

Last updated: December 7, 2023