Mesa Verde National Park managers are proposing an entrance fee increase in 2017.
Under the proposal, entrance fees would rise from $15 to $20 per vehicle during the summer season, from May to October. Per-person and motorcycle fees during the high season would increase from $8 to $10, and an annual park pass would rise from $30 to $40.
“We are committed to keeping the park affordable, but we also want to provide visitors with the best possible experience,” Park Superintendent Cliff Spencer said in a news release. “The money from entrance fees is used to improve visitor facilities and amenities. The revised fees will help us offset increased costs for construction and rehabilitation that keep these facilities in good condition.”
Spring, fall and winter fees for private vehicles would increase from $10 to $15. Per-person and motorcycle off-season fees would go from $5 to $8.
A public meeting to discuss the proposal is scheduled for 6 p.m. Sept. 13 in the Conference Room at First National Bank, 2258 E. Main St., Cortez.
To reserve a spot for the open house, call 529-4682 by Sept. 12. People unable to attend the open house can submit comments to the park at http://parkplanning.nps.gov/MEVE66815. Comments will be accepted on the website through 5 p.m. Sept. 15.
Fee changes would start Jan. 1, 2017. No changes are proposed for commercial or tour fees. Youth age 16 and younger are not charged entrance fees, and holders of America the Beautiful, senior, access, military, volunteer and fourth-grade passes are not charged.
Revenue from a fee increase would help with the upcoming rehabilitation of the Morefield Campground Amphitheater, additional stabilization work at archaeological sites, maintaining and updating infrastructure and additional visitor educational opportunities, according to the release.
The popular Spruce Tree House has been closed to visitors since February because of falling rock. Cristy Brown, Mesa Verde spokeswoman, said fixes to Spruce Tree would definitely be included in projects to be addressed if fees are increased.
Higher summer fees support increased programming during the busy tourist season, Brown said. The park hires seasonal staff during those months, and the summer fees support wages, she said.
Some parks, such as Grand Canyon National Park, have raised fees in recent years, Brown said. Other parks have discontinued entrance fees and are relying on grants or other funding methods to supplement park revenue.
After the open house, officials at the national level will decide on whether or not to increase fees, Brown said.
“This is just a proposal right now to see what people think,” she said.