CARLSBAD, New Mexico--The National Park Service (NPS) announced today Carlsbad Caverns National Park will modify its entrance fees to provide additional funding for infrastructure and maintenance needs to enhance the visitor experience. Effective January 1, 2019 the entrance fees to the park will be $15 per person (ages 16 and older) and free (ages 15 and younger). All of the money received from entrance fees remains with the National Park Service with at least 80 percent of the revenue going to Carlsbad Caverns National Park.
Revenue from entrance fees remains in the National Park Service and helps ensure a quality experience for all who visit. Here in Carlsbad Caverns National Park, at least 80 percent of entrance fees stay in the park and are devoted to spending that supports the visitor. We share the other 20 percent of entry fee income with other national parks for their projects.
In response to public comments on a fee proposal released in October 2017, there will be a modest increase for all entrance fee-charging parks, rather than the higher peak-season fees initially proposed only for 17 highly-visited national parks.
“Entrance fees help us protect the cavern and provide quality visitor services and experiences for our visitors,” said Superintendent Doug Neighbor. “For example, fees funded the current project to modernize our primary elevators.”
National parks have experienced record breaking visitation, with more than 1.5 billion visitors in the last five years. Throughout the country, the combination of an aging infrastructure and increased visitation has put a strain on park roads, bridges, campgrounds, waterlines, bathrooms, and other visitor services and led to a $11.6 billion deferred maintenance backlog nationwide.
The additional revenue from entrance fees at Carlsbad Caverns National Park will update and replace 60 exhibits that are over 40 years old along the park road and inside the cavern.
Entrance fees collected by the National Park Service totaled $199.9 million in Fiscal Year 2016. The NPS estimates that once fully implemented, the new fee structure will increase annual entrance fee revenue by about $60 million.
Carlsbad Caverns National Park has had an entrance fee since 1927. The current rate of $12 per person (ages 16 and older) has been in effect since January 1, 2018. The park is one of 117 National Park Service site that charges an entrance fee, the other 300 national parks will remain free to enter.
The price of the annual America the Beautiful National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Annual Pass and Lifetime Senior Pass will remain $80.
The National Park Service has a standardized entrance fee structure, composed of four groups based on park size and type. Some parks not yet aligned with the other parks in their category will raise their fees incrementally and fully incorporate the new entrance fee schedule by January 1, 2020.