America's best idea is about to get a little pricier. Starting March 1, it will cost $25 to $30 to enter Yosemite National Park, officials announced last week.
The current entrance fee is $20, good for seven days. It will rise to $25 during the quieter months of January through March and November through December. Visitors will pay $30 during the high-season months of April through October.
Park officials originally sought an across-the-board increase to $30, but that plan changed after they received input from about 3,600 people who weighed in, mostly via email or on the park's Facebook page, during the public comment period.
Under the new fees, motorcyclists will be charged $15 (currently $10) to enter the park through 2015. That fee will go up to $20 in 2016.
Also, camping fees inside the park will rise by 20% (ranging from $6 to $26 per night for family campgrounds), and the annual pass will rise from $40 to $60, a park statement said.
“With additional entrance fees, we will be able to complete some critical projects in the next few years that benefit park visitors,” Randy Fong, Yosemite's division chief of project management, said in the statement.
"We want everyone to know that 80% of the revenue stays here in Yosemite National Park to make these projects a reality. Without the funding, the projects will simply not get implemented," he said.
Projects include restoring areas in Tuolumne Meadows and along the Merced River in Yosemite Valley, improving parking and traffic flow in the park, and fixing up popular routes such as the John Muir and Mist trails. Some of the funds will be used to expand campgrounds in Yosemite Valley, specifically Camp 4 and Upper Pines.
Improvements to the park's emergency communication system and expansion of youth programs are also on the list.
Joshua Tree National Park and other parks have proposed increases as well.