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10:46 PM Sat, Nov. 17th

Grand Canyon raising entrance fees

GRAND CANYON NATIONAL PARK - Park entrance fees and the cost of overnight backcountry permits at Grand Canyon National Park will increase June 1.

The new charges will be:

• Single vehicle entry fee, $30 for a seven-day pass (up from $25).

• Motorcycle entry fee, $25 for a seven-day pass.

• $15 per person entering from the Grand Canyon Railway, shuttle bus, private rafting trip, or by walking or riding a bike (up from $12).

• Annual pass, $60 (up from $50).

• The backcountry permit cost stays the same at $10, but there will be a nightly $8 charge per person or stock animal camping below the rim, and for each group camping above the rim in designated areas. The increase does not affect fees at Mather, Desert View or the North Rim campgrounds, and is effective for permits starting Oct. 1.

Commercial entrance fees are not affected.

The park received 59 formal comments about the increases during a 60-day comment period, and according to park officials, many comments supported the increases because the money would be spent on park improvements.

For example, fee revenue was used for the Bright Angel Trailhead renovation, the redesign of Mather Point, and the Grand Canyon Visitor Center.

The park's free shuttle bus system is also funded by entrance fee income.

Entrance fees are not charged to persons under 16 years of age or holders of the America the Beautiful National Parks and Federal Recreational Annual, Senior, Access, or Military Passes.

These passes may be obtained at the park.  The interagency passes, honored at all federally managed land units, are not affected by the entrance fee increase and will remain at $80 for the Interagency Annual Pass, $10 for the Senior Pass, and free for the Access or Military passes.

All backcountry permit revenue pays actual costs for running and staffing Grand Canyon's permit offices and Backcountry Information Centers.

This adjustment and decisions to trim costs for the backcountry operation are designed to eliminate a funding deficit and ensure the operation will recover the actual costs incurred.

Additionally, Grand Canyon National Park will end its Frequent Hiker Membership program on June 1. As part of terminating this program, all existing members who have not already experienced $25 in savings through their memberships will be provided with hiker credit for the difference.

For questions about the backcountry fee increase and termination of the Frequent Hiker Membership, contact Steve Sullivan at (928) 638-7415.

The existing fee structure has been in place since 2006.