The cost to visit Washington State’s Olympic National Park is going up, but incrementally over time. In 2014, the cost to enter Olympic National Park was $15 per vehicle. In 2015, it will be $20 for a seven day pass to all areas of the park. Camping fees also increase by $5, and there are slight increases for backpacking sites and annual wilderness passes.
The fee increases are laid out as follows:
In a press release from Sarah Creachbaum, the Superintendent of Olympic National Park, the increase in entrance fees and camping costs is explained.
“The money from user and entrance fees provides vital funding for visitor facilities like water and wastewater systems, campgrounds, roads, trails and visitor centers,” said Creachbaum.
At Olympic in 2014, approximately $2.2 million in fee revenue provided for improved visitor facilities and services, including trail and wilderness bridge repair, new visitor center exhibits and operation of the park’s wilderness information program.
This summer, visitors will find newly improved accessible parking spaces and walkways at the Hoh and Quinault visitor centers, trail repairs in the Hoh and Sol Duc valleys and south coast route and wilderness information for hikers and backpackers.
“We are committed to providing all visitors with the best possible experience, while still providing affordable options to enjoy the park,” said Olympic National Park Superintendent Sarah Creachbaum.
I know it sucks to have to pay a bit more to get into our Public Lands, but don’t take it out on the parks, or the employees. The staff at the National Parks are some of the hardest working, under-appreciated people I have met, and I am the child of two elementary school teachers. The issue isn’t the parks being wasteful with their budget, instead, they are cutting back to ensure access and safety for all who wish to explore our most beautiful and historic lands. Five dollars more a year may be a lot to some, which is why I am happy to share with you a five awesome ways to save some money when visiting the parks.
Your best bet per dollar, if you travel to National Parks, Forest Service Lands or Wildlife Refuges is the Interagency Annual Pass, costing $80. This pass provides access to 2,000+ recreation areas managed by five Federal agencies, with up to 100% of the proceeds being used to improve and enhance visitor recreation services. If you visit parks and federal land often, get this pass and stop worrying about entrance fees for an entire year! Buy yours now!
If you are a U.S. military member and/or a dependent to someone in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard and also, Reserve and National Guard members, you get a year of entry fees to National Parks waived. This pass must be obtained in person at a Federal recreation site by showing a Common Access Card (CAC) or Military ID (Form 1173).
If you are 62 years or older, you are able to get a lifelong pass to all National Parks, Wildlife Refuges and Forest Service Lands with the Senior Pass. For just $10, you get a lifelong pass to the most beautiful locations in America. This pass should either be obtained in person at a federal recreation site or through the mail using this form. Be aware that if you do get your form through the mail, it will cost you $20, thanks to a $10 processing fee. The Senior Pass may also provide up to a 50% discount for camping, swimming, boat launch, and other specialized services.
The volunteer Pass offered by the National Park Service is an awesome reward for being a dedicated steward of the land. If you are a volunteer with 250 service hours with federal agencies that participate in the Interagency Pass Program, all you need to do is contact your local federal recreation site. If you want to start your volunteer service in National Parks, or want more information about volunteer opportunities, visit Volunteer.gov.
Finally, if you want to visit National Parks for free without doing anything other than showing up, check out the Fee Free Days in the National Park System. A list of the Fee Free days can be found on the National Park Service website, but be aware that they are few and far between. In 2015, there are only nine days free. Again, don’t get upset at the parks, get angry at your Representatives and Senators for not fully funding our public lands.
Once you have your entrance fees paid, and you are curious on how to start exploring the Olympic Peninsula and Olympic National Park, I can highly recommend my new book “The Definitive Guide – Olympia National Park & Olympic Peninsula . Available as eBook right now and soon in paperback on Amazon. If you love or want to fall in love with Olympic National Park, this is the guide for you!