Starting January 10, 2019, Everglades National Park will begin a two-year implementation of new entrance fees. This decision is the result of more than a year of civic engagement with park users and neighboring communities. In 2019, the entrance fee will increase from $25 to $30 per vehicle for seven days. Individual entrance fees will increase from $8 to $15 and the park’s annual pass will cost $55.
In addition, visitors entering through the park’s maritime boundary by boat, paddle craft or guided tour will be required to have an appropriate entrance pass. Private vessels entering the park will now pay fees consistent with motor vehicles. Visitors towing a boat through the park’s main entrance station will be charged only one entrance fee, as the previous boat launch and paddle craft fees will be eliminated in the new year. Entrance passes are valid for a full week across all park locations.
With the recent ability to provide a mobile pass, the park now has the technology to make it convenient for park users to pay the entrance fee regardless of where or how they enter the park. The mobile pass can be purchased online or via a mobile device.
“We appreciate the input from so many park users who care about Everglades National Park. We have determined that the fee increases are appropriate and will go a long way in helping us manage the park,” said Everglades National Park Superintendent Pedro Ramos. “We expect to take some time to fully educate our park visitors on these new changes.”
Eighty percent of collected fees stay in the park, while the other 20% support National Park Service units across the nation that do not charge fees, such as Biscayne National Park and Big Cypress National Preserve. Of that 80%, at least 55% of the fees must be used to fund deferred maintenance projects in the park. Everglades National Park has some ambitious plans over the next few years to improve visitor facilities and services.
Ramos added, “This increase in revenue will enable us to address our deferred maintenance and provide the quality of service and facilities that our visitors expect at a world-renowned national park.”
Some of the fee-funded projects include replacing channel markers and improving channel corridors in Florida Bay and the backcountry, bringing back accommodations and a restaurant in Flamingo, repaving the remainder of the Main Park Road, and reconstructing the Flamingo Visitor Center. The park also plans to launch the long-awaited Boater Education Program later in 2019. There will be no cost associated with the program.
The second phase of the fee implementation will occur in 2020 when vehicle/vessel fees will increase to $35, individuals to $20, and the annual park pass to $70. With the return of overnight accommodations at Flamingo in 2020, this fee structure will be commensurate with other large national parks that offer those services.
To ensure all visitors have the opportunity to visit, the National Park Service waives entrance fees on special commemorative days each year. The five fee-free days for 2019 will be Martin Luther King, Jr. Day on January 21, the first day of National Park Week on April 20, the National Park Service Anniversary on August 25, National Public Lands Day on September 28, and Veterans Day on November 11. Visitors may also to continue to enter the park free of charge on the Homestead Trolley.
Free or discounted passes are available for senior citizens, current members of the U.S. military, families of fourth grade students, and disabled citizens. Additionally, the annual America the Beautiful National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass allows unlimited entrance to more than 2,000 federal recreation areas, including all national parks. More information can be found at www.nps.gov/planyourvisit/passes.htm
Passes may be purchased at Everglades National Park’s main entrance in Homestead, Shark Valley entrance station, or online at yourpassnow.com/parkpass. Passes will be honored until their expiration date.