10 National Parks That Cost More in 2023 — and 2 That Soon Might

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Acadia National Park hiker
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From purple mountain majesties to crashing waves on ocean beaches, America’s national parks are a true treasure.

While many of them charge an entrance or camping fee (and some require reservations), they remain among the best vacation bargains out there.

Some national parks have increased their fees in 2023, and two more soon might do the same.

Here’s a quick look at which parks are affected and how much you’ll pay for a visit going forward.

Katmai National Park and Preserve

Katmai National Park
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Park location: Alaska

Type of fee increase: Camping

Breathtaking Katmai National Park and Preserve, in southwest Alaska, is bigger than some states. You may know it for the iconic bear cam, a webcam that shows brown bear fishing for salmon on the Brooks River, or Fat Bear Week, an annual tournament-bracket battle of the bulk.

The fee for overnight camping at the park’s Brooks Campground has increased for the 2023 camping season:

  • Peak season rate (June to mid-September): $18 per person per night
  • Non-peak season rate (May and mid-September through Halloween): $10 per person per night

The $6 advanced reservation fee that applies to all reservations remains the same.

Acadia National Park

Acadia National Park in Maine
Eric Urquhart / Shutterstock.com

Park location: Maine

Type of fee increase: Entrance

Encompassing nearly 50,000 acres along Maine’s Atlantic coastline, Acadia National Park is one of the top 10 most-visited national parks in the United States. As of April 1, weekly and annual entrance pass fees have increased as follows:

  • 7-day private vehicle pass: $35
  • 7-day motorcycle pass: $30
  • 7-day pedestrian/cyclist pass: $20
  • Annual pass: $70

Cumberland Island National Seashore

Cumberland Island National Seashore National Park
EWY Media / Shutterstock.com

Park location: Georgia

Type of fee increase: Entrance

Cumberland Island National Seashore preserves most of Georgia’s striking Cumberland Island and its pristine maritime forests, undeveloped beaches and wide marshes. Entrance fees went up as of April 1 as follows:

  • 7-day pass: $15 for adults 16 and older
  • 4-person annual pass: $45

Valles Caldera National Preserve

Valles Caldera National Park
GUILLAUME LECLERC / Shutterstock.com

Park location: New Mexico

Type of fee increase: Fishing

A spectacular volcanic eruption about 1.25 million years ago created the 13-mile wide circular depression now known as the Valles Caldera. The park is known for its huge mountain meadows, abundant wildlife and meandering streams, which are home to thousands of trout.

As of April 1, the park charges these rates:

  • Annual fishing pass (adult): $20
  • Annual fishing pass (youth age 12-17): $10
  • 7-day pass (adult): $5
  • 7-day pass (youth 12-17): $3

A state of New Mexico fishing license is also required to fish within Valles Caldera.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Dave Allen Photography / Shutterstock.com

Park location: North Carolina and Tennessee

Type of fee increase: Camping and parking

Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which straddles the border between North Carolina and Tennessee, is the country’s most-visited national park, with 14.1 million visits in 2021.

But parking there can be tricky. As of March 1, any motor vehicle parked within the park boundary will need to display a Park It Forward parking tag, which costs $5 for a daily tag, $15 for a weekly tag and $40 for an annual tag.

Back-country camping fees are now $8 per night, with a maximum of $40 per camper, while front-country campground fees are $30 per night for most sites but may be more for sites with electrical hookups.

Group camp, horse camp and picnic pavilion fees have also increased. A full list can be found online.

Congaree National Park

Congaree National Park
Joseph Creamer / Shutterstock.com

Park location: South Carolina

Type of fee increase: Camping

Congaree National Park, located 18 miles from South Carolina’s capital, Columbia, preserves the largest tract of old growth bottomland hardwood forest left in the United States.

As of Jan. 1, the park has increased fees for nightly campsite reservations at its designated frontcountry campgrounds. The nightly fee for reserving a campsite at the Bluff Campground is now $10 per night. At Longleaf Campground, the nightly fee for reserving a standard campsite is now $15 per night, and for a group campsite, it’s $25 per night.

Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks

Sequoia National Park in California
Andreas C. Fischer / Shutterstock.com

Park location: California

Type of fee increase: Camping

Travelers flock to Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks to see the giant sequoias, famed as the largest trees on Earth. But popularity comes at a price: The parks raised campground fees in 2023, and will do so again in 2024.

The fee for a standard campsite is now $28, and the fee will go up to $32 in 2024. A stock campsite fee is now $40, a mid-sized group campsite now $50 and large group campsites range from $60-$80. Only the standard campsite fee will go up in 2024.

Hovenweep and Natural Bridges National Monuments

Hovenweep National Monument
Zack Frank / Shutterstock.com

Park location: Colorado and Utah

Type of fee increase: Camping

The name says it all at Natural Bridges National Monument, where three majestic natural bridges make for stunning photographs. And Hovenweep National Monument is home to six prehistoric villages built between A.D. 1200 and 1300. Both increased their campground fees as of Jan. 1.

Hovenweep now charges $20 ($10 for seniors and the disabled) and Natural Bridges now charges $16 ($8 for seniors and the disabled).

The camping fee increases come after both the monuments resumed collecting entrance fees, something Natural Bridges didn’t do between January 2020 and June 2022, and Hovenweep didn’t do between 2014 and June 2022.

Parks with proposed fee increases for 2023

Assateague Island National Seashore
Mary Swift / Shutterstock.com

Two additional parks may see increased fees, if proposed changes are adopted. Assateague Island National Seashore, shared by Maryland and Virginia, could see campsite fees go up. Regular campsites in the Oceanside and Bayside campgrounds would cost an additional $10 per night, while group sites and the horse camp site would go up by $30 per night. The change would go into effect on Oct. 1.

And New Mexico’s historic Bandelier National Monument could also see a fee change. The proposed increases would affect individual and group campsites at Juniper Campground, raising their fees to $20 and $50 respectively, as well as group campsites at Ponderosa Campground, which would cost $50. If adopted, the new fees would go into effect on Oct. 1.

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