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What You Need to Know About the New National Park Rules

Updated on November 18, 2017
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I have traveled extensively throughout the US for many years and enjoy helping people to enjoy their own vacations.

There’s bad news on the horizon for RVers and other travelers who either enjoy visiting or want at some point to see our national parks, because changes in costs and procedures are already in the works for the more popular ones.

This undoubtedly is due to the fact that the budgets for them have been slashed significantly, so the only way for them to function is to charge more for many things and also find ways to preserve and secure what they already have in place.

Big changes are coming to some of the more popular US National parks that will negatively affect both parks and visitors.
Big changes are coming to some of the more popular US National parks that will negatively affect both parks and visitors. | Source

The Way It Used to Be

Until recently, if you wanted to visit a US National Park, you loaded up your RV and just went.

If you timed things correctly and made reservations where necessary, you always found lodging or campsites.

Costs were relatively low, traffic was not a problem and you could spend peaceful, quiet hours observing and enjoying beautiful scenery and wildlife.

However, those days are fast disappearing.

The Way It Is Right Now

While you still can have these benefits when visiting the smaller and lesser known parks, it won’t be quite so simple trying to do the same with the others.

Listed below are some of the issues that will affect you if you decide to go.

Visit Glacier now before changes take place there, too.
Visit Glacier now before changes take place there, too. | Source

Basic Changes

The National Park Service has already decided to require reservations for people who want to visit Yosemite, and there currently is discussion about doing the same with Yellowstone.

Park managers are also considering

  • using trams to carry visitors to and from the park,
  • limiting the amount of vehicle traffic and
  • controlling the number of people who can visit at any one time.

This being the case, it is highly likely that some of the other more popular parks will do the same.

This may turn out to be a big problem for RVers because making camping reservations when you are driving long distances is tricky at best because so many things can happen along the way to change your timing.

Also, some people don't know ahead of time that they'll be in the vicinity of a big park, don't have WIFI or phone access, and may not have the ability to make reservations when they get closer to a given park.

Another problem is that costs are likely to rise. In fact, beginning August 28, 2017, senior citizen park pass prices are rising from $10 per year to $80 per year!

Loosening Park Protections

A very serious problem right now that could have a negative affect on our national parks is that President Trump has issued an executive order requiring a number of federal agencies to either review or rescind policies that protect our national parks from the negative affects of drilling for gas and oil.

He also wants to open national park lands for the purposes of logging, mining and other job creating activities.

You can read more details in this article that was published by The Observer and by doing a Google search about this issue.

His executive order, if supported, could ruin many of our parks and thus make visiting them a non-starter.

Who is going to go and see the Sequoias if half of them have been cut down?

Who wants to drive through Yellowstone and pass through slash and burn mining operations?

If the President has his way, the truth is that in some instances, there won’t be much to visit or, in another scenario, what you see when you go won’t be pleasant!

Changing Procedures

Requiring reservations and the use of visitor trams are issues that seem fairly reasonable on the surface, but the impact they will have on visitors will be huge.

For example, the concept of using trams to transport people to and from the parks will create major problems, especially for RVers.

If you can’t stay in the park and drive your own vehicle to do so, you lose a good deal of the freedom you normally would need to enjoy your experience.

Other questions include

  • where RVers will stay when outside of the park,
  • how camping will be affected and
  • what will people do who travel with pets.

Do we really want logging and drilling to ruin our enjoyment of Yellowstone?
Do we really want logging and drilling to ruin our enjoyment of Yellowstone? | Source

Cost Increases

The costs involved in visiting our national parks has already increased significantly in recent years, but with fewer visitors, they are likely to rise even more.

For example, campsites in Yellowstone used to cost $12. Now, people are paying $19.50 per night. This is in addition to the seven day vehicle entrance fee of $30, which will soon rise to higher levels.

When you add these costs to the increased senior park pass fees, you can see that RVing to a big park will no longer be cheap.

It may even get to the point where the average person simply stays away because this type of vacation will cost too much!

What You Can Do

While you may not be able to stop the coming changes, there still are a few things you can do to give yourself the opportunity to have better experiences when visiting the big US national parks.

Travel to see the parks early or late in the season and within the next year or two.

  • If you go, try to carpool so that you only take one vehicle.
  • Avoid Yosemite, which is already requiring reservations.
  • Contact your federal congressmen and senators and let them know that you vehemently object to the opening of public lands for the purposes of drilling, mining and logging.
  • If you see prices rising, write to the National Park Service and state your objections.

Whether you want to visit these parks or not, you can put a stop to these damaging changes simply by letting Washington know that you don’t like them.

If enough people complain, it is likely RVers and other travelers can alter the choices for change that are now being considered.

The Future Is Uncertain

Given what has been written here you should let the information in this article be a red flag

If you want to

  • enjoy the pristine beauty that these parks offer,
  • avoid the hassle of making reservations and
  • be able to come and go as you please in your own vehicle while visiting,

you need to make plans right now to visit your favorite national parks because if you wait too long to go, you may find that the changes that have been made ruin your travel experience.

Would you still go to a national park if all of these proposals were put in place?

See results

© 2017 Sondra Rochelle


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