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Golden Gate National Recreation Area May Increase Fees

Camping and parking fees may go up, and the Fort Point candlelight tour may no longer be free
By - posted 5/21/2021 No Comment

Golden Gate National Recreation Area, which hosted more than 12 million visitors last year, is proposing an increase to fees for some activities to keep up with the costs of managing the park. Amid the pandemic, many areas of the park have seen a dramatic increase in visitation. Revenue from these fees will contribute toward a variety of improvement projects meant to enhance visitor services and resource protection.

The proposal includes raising fees for camping and day use in the Marin Headlands. Some notable steep increases include:

  • Day Use at Kirby Cove would shoot up to $75 from $45
  • Haypress Group Camping would skyrocket to $75 from $5
  • Fort Point Candlelight tour would no longer be free; adult tickets would be $19

Additionally, the park plans to expand or introduce parking fees at four NPS-controlled lots in the Presidio of San Francisco and begin charging a fee for an after-hours tour at Fort Point National Historic Site.

The National Park Service will accept public comments on the fee changes through June 18. All messages can be sent to goga_business@nps.gov or by phone at (415) 561-4700.

Some of the affected activities have never before had fees, even while the costs of maintaining visitor facilities and services has increased significantly over the years. In 2020, Golden Gate National Recreation Area was the second most-visited national park and in the year before it had an estimated $1.4 billion in economic output to local gateway economies surrounding the park.

Eighty percent of fee money is retained in the park. Without fee revenue from visitors, these improvements would not be possible:

  • Upgrade to restroom facilities at Marin Headlands Visitor Center and Rodeo Beach
  • Removal of sand at Ocean Beach to maintain visitor access to promenade and beach
  • Restoration of native plants at popular natural and cultural resource sites
  • Rehabilitation of vault toilet facilities parkwide
  • Repair and replacement of signs throughout San Mateo County parklands
  • Repair of Alcatraz Island tour site photovoltaic system

Additionally, fee revenue helps us maintain critical supplies of park brochures and materials, provide interpretation for evening programming at Alcatraz Island, and provide additional staffing at high-visitation areas to assist in responding to emergencies and supplying visitors with information.

The campgrounds and day use area affected by this proposal are frequently used by visitors. In response to this demand one location, Kirby Cove, will extend its 2021 season for camping and day use by approximately a month. Kirby Cove and the other Marin Headlands campgrounds require considerable staffing and resources to maintain. The fee change would bring costs inline with those at other nearby parks that offer camping.

Parking fees in the Presidio are generally far cheaper than those for other parking lots in the area. As a result, the four affected lots receive high levels of use and are monitored by the US Park Police. A fee increase will prioritize parking availability for those who intend to visit the park, rather than for those who wish only to find a safe and inexpensive place to store their vehicle, or other non-park uses.

The Candlelight Tour at Fort Point National Historic Site takes place after-hours, when the site is ordinarily closed to visitors. Charging a fee for the tour will now mean staffing and interpretive material costs for the program are adequately accounted for.

Golden Gate National Recreation Area does not charge an entrance fee at any of its sites, including its most popular areas such as Crissy Field and Ocean Beach. The proposed changes were determined following thorough review from National Park Service concession and fee program staff. For more information about other fees at the park, please visit the Fees & Passes webpage.

Golden Gate National Recreation Area doesn’t look like most national parks. It is comprised of tracts of land across many counties.

Stretched across 80,000 acres north and south of the Golden Gate Bridge, these parks also constitute one of the world’s largest national parks in an urban setting. They feature 37 distinct park sites, from Muir Woods National Monument to Fort Point National Historic Site to Alcatraz Island, more than 130 miles of trails, and 1,200 historic structures.

Read more at National Park Service.