November 8, 2014 / 12:20 AM / 5 years ago

Grand Canyon national park proposes hiking visitor fees

PHOENIX (Reuters) - Officials at Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona on Friday proposed the first hike in entrance fees since 1997 as part of a nationwide plan to better prepare the facilities for future generations of visitors, a park spokeswoman said.

A rare total cloud inversion is pictured at Mather Point on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon National Park in Grand Canyon, Arizona November 29, 2013. REUTERS/NPS photo by Erin Whittaker/Handout

The move came two days after Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks in northwestern Wyoming also proposed major increases to their fees amid rising demand for services from a growing number of visitors.

Entrance fees to the 1.2 million-acre (485,623-hectare) Grand Canyon park would rise to $30 per vehicle for a seven-day pass under the proposal, from $25 currently, while an annual pass would cost $60, up from $50 now.

The rate for a motorcycle would increase to $25 from $12, while a pedestrian would have to pay $15, compared to $12 currently. Public comment on the changes is being sought through Jan. 7.

“It has been a long time since the fees have increased,” said Kirby-Lynn Shedlowski, a Grand Canyon park spokeswoman. “The money will be used to make sure that each person’s visit is the best that we can provide.”

The crimson-hued Grand Canyon is one the world’s most popular tourist attractions, and is visited by more than 4.5 million people every year.

The increases that were proposed this week by mountainous Yellowstone and Grand Teton, which also both receive millions of visitors annually, would be the first fee hike at those parks since 2006.

In all, 115 of 401 U.S. national parks are seeking public comment on proposed fee hikes to pay for maintaining and upgrading services as the U.S. parks system gears up for its centennial in 2016.

“We’re preparing for the next 100 years,” said Karen Kupper, a national parks spokeswoman in Washington, D.C. “We know more people are going to be coming ... we need to be ready for them.”

Shedlowski said the Grand Canyon receives about $18 million a year from entrance fees. She did not know how much revenue would increase if the proposal were to take effect.

Reporting by David Schwartz; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Sandra Maler

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