With fees on the rise, spend a free day at Colorado's national parks

By Seth Boster Updated: April 20, 2018 at 9:00 am • Published: April 16, 2018 0
photo - Elk graze at sunrise Tuesday, July 15, 2003 along Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park. Mark Reis photo
Elk graze at sunrise Tuesday, July 15, 2003 along Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park. Mark Reis photo

The price to see some of America's most wondrous outdoor places won't skyrocket as initially feared.

But fees aren't getting cheaper at the national parks, as suggested last week by the Department of Interior. Most parks will tack an extra $5 onto the price of their passes, Interior announced.

Starting June 8, Rocky Mountain National Park will charge $35 admission per vehicle. Also in June, the cost per person at Colorado Springs' closest national monument, Florissant Fossil Beds, will be $10, up $3. Next year, Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve will be $25, up from $20.

With such increments, fee-free days are all the more valuable. So take advantage Saturday April 21st, the first day of National Park Week. Keep your wallet in your pocket, and plan a day of adventure in one of Colorado's ultimate escapes.

Stay close in Teller County, the site of massive tree stumps from a long-ago era, among the world's biggest. Enjoy views of Pikes Peak on peaceful strolls through the fossil beds' meadows and pine-studded hills. Or head to Estes Park to explore the alpine lakes and waterfalls of Rocky Mountain National Park. You can venture south to the San Luis Valley's imposing sand dunes, tucked between the Sangre de Cristos.

Or maybe take a weekend on the Western Slope, checking out Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park and Colorado National Monument.

Enjoy, but bear in mind the struggles across the national parks. The fee increases come as the system faces $11.6 billion in deferred maintenance costs.

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