Dinosaur National Monument announces fee increase | CraigDailyPress.com

Dinosaur National Monument announces fee increase

The Yampa River as seen from the Yampa Bench Road in Dinosaur National Monument.

DINOSAUR — Visitors to Dinosaur National Monument this summer will pay $5 more for entry, as the National Park Service has announced increased entry fees at parks nationwide.

Dinosaur National Monument is increasing its fee structure as follows.

• Per vehicle fee will increase from $20 to $25.

• Per person fees will increase from $10 to $15.

• Per motorcycle fees will increase from $15 to $20.

• Annual passes to Dinosaur National Monument will increase from $40 to $45.

The new fee schedule will take effect June 1.

"We do want it to be an affordable place to come," said Dan Johnson, chief of interpretation and visitor services at the monument. He added there are a few fee-free weekends and days for visitors who can't or don't want to pay basic entrance fees. The next of these fee-free days will be Saturday, in celebration of National Park Week.

Last year, the Department of Interior proposed increasing peak-season fees at 17 highly visited national parks, including Rocky Mountain National Park. After receiving public comments, the agency instead opted to increase fees in all areas that charge an entrance fee, according to a news release from Dinosaur National Monument. Fees were last raised in Dinosaur by local park management in 2016.

At least 80 percent of revenue made from entrance fees will remain within Dinosaur. Johnson said there is more than $10 million in deferred maintenance at the monument.

"It's certainly a place that could use some more help," said Tom Kleinschnitz, director of the Moffat County Tourism Association. "I wish there was another way to get that accomplished."

Revenues from the fee increase will help the park pay for improvements to restrooms in the Green River and Split Mountain campgrounds on the Utah side of the park. Several comfort stations in that area are in poor condition, according to Dan Johnson, chief of interpretation and visitor services at Dinosaur National Monument.

"We do what we can to try to maintain them and keep them up, try to make them presentable as best we can, but they were built in the time before the Americans with Disability Act requirements, so they're not accessible to people in a wheelchair," Johnson said.

He added that one comfort station has been modified to make it more accessible, but it is still not up to the standard.

"When those are done, we'll have modern, clean, easy-to-maintain, sustainable restrooms that will be accessible to all of our visitors," he said.

Money from the fee increase will also help repair trails and improve exhibits and interpretive materials. Some funding from the fee increase will help pay for updates to the Canyon Visitors Center's outdoor exhibits.

"The exhibits that are here in the Canyon Visitors Center were put in in the 1960s, so they are, again, quite dated," Johnson said. "You look at what people are expecting in a modern visitor's center, and as far as how people learn these days, it's very different from that time period."

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Johnson said the park also hopes to expand its outdoor exhibits and information booths, so people have more access to information when the Canyon Visitors Center is closed.

"It's unfortunate the fees are raised right in front of our tourist season," Kleinschnitz said. "It would be nice to have a bit more notice for people."

Johnson compared the cost of entry to cost of other family activities, such as amusement park admissions or lift tickets at a ski resort. Dinosaur's $25 per-vehicle fee could get an entire family into the park for a week.

"It still remains a really good value for people," Johnson said.

Contact Eleanor Hasenbeck at 970-875-1795 or ehasenbeck@CraigDailyPress.com or follow her on Twitter, @elHasenbeck.