SALT LAKE CITY — Utah State Parks and Recreation implemented new fees associated with some of its parks earlier this month.
“2020 has been a challenge for many folks, if not all of us, and certainly here at state parks we’ve had to make some adjustments,” said Utah State Parks spokesman Eugene Swalberg, citing the always-present need for upkeep and maintenance within the 44 parks across the state of Utah.
On July 1, the out-of-state fee for an annual pass increased from $75 to $150. Utah residents will see an increase in the fall from $75 to $100 for an annual pass. The increase has been discussed for quite some time. The annual park pass fee hasn’t increased in over two decades.
“It’s nothing that is new. It might be new to the state parks system, but many people are used to paying different resident fees depending on where you live,” said Swalberg.
Four southern Utah parks that typically see out-of-state visitors have increased their daily-use fees for non-Utah residents.
“Gunlock State Park, Snow Canyon State Park, Sand Hollow State Park and Quail Creek State Park those also charge a different rate, a different daily rate for individual passes for out-of-state residents,” said Swalberg, who noted the $5 increase, which also went into place on July 1.
“With the increase in visitation from out-of-state, we saw a way that we could give everybody a better experience out at state parks,” said Gunlock State Park manager Jon Allred.
Located near the Nevada border, Gunlock sees some of the higher out-of-state visitor amounts.
“The increase has really slowed down the out-of-state annual passes. We do have a lot of people buying day passes still, and still coming and enjoying the park," Allred said.
At a park that already experienced high visitor numbers earlier in the summer, Allred says that out-of-state visitors have been understanding with the fee increase.
“It really has been an overall positive reaction from the public. The out-of-staters haven’t minded it at all, and the in-state people appreciate the fact that even though the out-of-staters are coming, they’re helping support state parks,” said Allred.
Parks across the state are reaching capacity seemingly every weekend. After COVID-19 impacted parks with visitor restrictions, capacity levels are still lower than normal, so parking and boat spots are filling up quicker.
There isn’t a known date on when the Utah resident park pass increase will go into effect.
For more information, visit the Utah State Parks website.