Point Park on Lookout Mountain.  (Photo: Bob Butters)

Beginning in January of 2020, the National Park Service will modify entrance fees for Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park. 

A fee increase of $3 per person at Point Park will make admission $10, up from the current $7 price. Annual park passes will be $35.00

NPS officials say the fee increase will help provide additional funding for infrastructure and maintenance needs to enhance the visitor experience.

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From the release:

Revenue, collected from entrance fees, remains with the National Park Service and helps ensure a quality experience for all who visit.  At Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park, 100 percent of entrance fees stay in the park and are devoted to projects that support the visitor.

In response to public comments on a fee proposal released in October 2017, there will be a modest increase for all entrance fee-charging parks, rather than the higher peak-season fees initially proposed only for 17 highly-visited national parks.

“Park entrance fees are a vital part of our overall strategy to fund infrastructure repairs and improve the experience for all park visitors,” stated Superintendent Brad Bennett. “With additional investments from annual project funding and philanthropic support from park partners, we are committed to preserving this special place for future generations.”

National parks have experienced record breaking visitation, with more than 1.5 billion visitors in the last five years.  Throughout the country, the combination of an aging infrastructure and increased visitation has put a strain park roads, bridges, campgrounds, waterlines, bathrooms, and other visitor services and led to a $11.6 billion deferred maintenance backlog nationwide.

The additional revenue from entrance fees at Chickamauga and Chattanooga will help further reduce the park’s deferred maintenance backlog on visitor centers, cultural landscapes, historic monuments, and more than 80 miles of trails.  For example, the recent vista clearing project at Point Park and the pending repairs to the Point Park flagstone walkways were both funded with park entrance fees.

Entrance fees collected by the National Park Service totaled $199.9 million in Fiscal year 2016.  The NPS estimates that once fully implemented, the new fee structure will increase annual entrance fee revenue by about $60 million.

The Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act (FLREA) allows the NPS to collect and retain revenue, and requires that fee revenue be used to enhance the visitor experience.  Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park has collected entrance fees since 1998.  The current rate of $7 per person has been in effect since January 2018.  The park is one of 117 National Park Service sites that charge an entrance fee; the other 300 national parks will remain free to enter.

Entrance fees are not charged to persons aged 15 years and younger or to pass holders of the America the Beautiful: The National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass series, which includes the Annual Pass, the Senior Pass, the Access Pass, and the Military Pass.  The price of the annual America the Beautiful: The National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass and lifetime senior pass will remain $80. These passes may be obtained at the Point Park entrance fee station in Lookout Mountain, Tennessee. All other destinations within the 9,000-acre expanse of the park – such as Cravens House, Ochs Gateway, Signal Point, Sherman Reservation, Orchard Knob, Moccasin Bend, and Chickamauga Battlefield – remain free of any entrance fees.

The National Park Service also has annual fee free days when all entrance fees are waived for everyone.  The three remaining fee free days in 2018 are:  April 21 (the first day of National Park Week), September 22 (National Public Lands Day), and November 11 (Veterans Day).

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