Denali National Park changes entry to per person

FAIRBANKS, Alaska — The National Park Service will soon begin charging per person and not by the vehicle to enter Denali National Park and Preserve — home to the 20,320-foot Mount McKinley, the highest peak in North America.

The park service has decided to eliminate a $20 per vehicle entrance fee and instead will charge a flat $10 per person fare for visitors age 16 and older, according to Friday’s Fairbanks Daily News-Miner.

The change takes effect Sunday.

The Park Service collected about $2.3 million in entrance fees at Denali in 2010. Eight percent of that money stayed in Denali to be used for preapproved projects that improve visitor services and facilities, park spokeswoman Kris Fister said.

The intent of the change is not to collect more money but to rectify the inequity in how the fees are collected, Fister said. The fee is gathered by many groups, including Doyon/ARAMARK Joint Venture, Princess Tours, air taxi services in Talkeetna, and businesses at Kantishna.

One of the findings of a 2009 audit of the park’s fee program was that the application of who was charged an individual fee versus a vehicle fee was inconsistent, Fister said. The audit recommended the park use only the per-individual fee because there is no entrance station to collect the vehicle fee at the park.

Most entrance fees are collected when visitors make their bus and campsite reservations, Fister said. Otherwise, visitors voluntarily stop at the Denali Visitor Center or Murie Science and Learning Center to pay the fee.

Over the years, the money collected in entrance fees has funded new trails, dust abatement on the park road, new restroom facilities and other major projects such as the rehabilitation of the Riley Creek Campground.

The remaining 20 percent of money collected in entrance fees is used for similar projects in parks that don’t collect an entrance fee or for funding agency-wide efforts such as Youth Corps Programs.

The park will continue to honor the Interagency Federal Recreational Passes such as the Annual, Senior and Access passes, and the Denali Annual Pass. Those passes all provide entry for the cardholder and up to three other adults, and they are all sold year-round at Denali National Park.

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