Glacier National Park will raise its fees for entrance and front-country camping starting in November.
The increases are expected to bring an additional $500,000 annually to the park, which gets to keep 80 percent of the revenue it raises from entry passes and permits.
Park spokeswoman Denise Germann said that money pays for visitor services and facilities, interpretative programs at campgrounds, trail repair and restoration, restroom improvements, wildlife habitat restoration, road maintenance and the park’s shuttle bus system.
Winter-season entrance fees go from $15 a vehicle to $20 starting Nov. 1 The summer entrance fee goes to $30 per vehicle from the previous $25, starting next May. The last time Glacier changed its entrance fee was in 2006.
Glacier officials initially proposed increasing the annual park pass from $35 to $60. Local feedback, however, convinced them to scale back the increase to $45 next January and $50 in January 2017.
“We think those annual passes are predominantly used by local residents,” said Kalispell Chamber of Commerce President Joe Unterreiner. “They use it for a wider variety of activities. It’s a lot like a season ski pass, where you don’t feel obligated to spend the whole day. You might go for a half-day or just a couple of hours.”
Unterreiner said many local businesses asked the park to keep that annual fee increase lower and proposed different ways to help Glacier meet its $500,000 annual revenue goal.
“Glacier Park is a great value for the money – you can see from the attendance numbers that it’s in demand. But I think residents will notice the annual pass increase.”
A National Park Service report found Glacier’s 2.3 million visitors spent $193 million in nearby communities and supported 3,405 local jobs in 2014. The 2015 season is on pace to break that mark, despite a 14 percent decline in August visitation due to forest fire access closures.
Germann said the backcountry permit program has faced a substantial deficit and a new policy requires it to recover all of its costs starting in fiscal 2016. The park started charging for backcountry camping in 1997.
Fee changes do not affect other passes such as the America the Beautiful-National Park and Federal Recreational Lands Pass, or military free-access passes.
For additional park information, visit the Glacier National Park's website at nps.gov/glac or call park headquarters at (406) 888-7800.