National parks offer deal on pass before increase

WASHINGTON — WASHINGTON -- In the spirit of after-Christmas markdowns, Uncle Sam is offering a rare, but unadvertised, bargain: a chance to beat the price increases taking effect next year at national parks and other federal fee areas around the country.

But hurry: This offer ends soon.


For a few more days, the government will continue to sell its annual Golden Eagle pass -- good for unlimited access to all national parks, monuments, historical sites, wildlife refuges and recreation areas -- for $25.

After that, the price will double to $50, said National Park Service spokesman Dave Barna. The price increase, expected to be announced Monday, could take effect as early as Wednesday.


Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt recently announced that entrance fees would increase to $20 or more per car for a seven-day pass to many of the nation's most popular parks. The increases will be phased in over the next few months at, among others, Shenandoah, Yellowstone, Grand Teton, Yosemite, Grand Canyon, Mount Rainier and Rocky Mountain national parks. In addition, fees are being imposed for the first time at some federal wildlife refuges and recreation areas.

Golden Eagle passes are good for 365 days from the date of

purchase. The price of two similar annual passes, the Golden Age pass for those older than 62 and the Golden Access pass for the disabled, will remain at $10, according to Barna.

Golden Eagle passes are sold at federal sites that charge entry fees. That includes Fort McHenry, Antietam National Battlefield, Assateague Island National Seashore, Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge and the C & O Canal National Historical Park.

The price increases, authorized under a measure signed into law by President Clinton this year, are designed to provide more money for improvements on federal parks and land. The changes, which include new and higher fees for snowmobiling, boating and back-country camping at some locations, are expected to raise between $35 million and $50 million over three years.

Pub Date: 12/28/96