Stopping at an overlook on the Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park.

The National Park Service wants a free increase to enter 17 of the nation’s parks and preserves — hiking the cost for a car from $25 to $70 to drive through the Shenandoah National Park along the Skyline Drive that runs South from Front Royal to the start of the Blue Ridge Parkway outside Waynesboro.

Motorcycle riders would pay $50.  Entering on foot means paying $30.

Other parks affected by this plan are Arches, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, Denali, Glacier, Grand Canyon, Grand Teton, Olympic, Sequoia & Kings Canyon, Yellowstone, Yosemite, Zion National Parks, Acadia, Mount Rainier, Rocky Mountain, and Joshua Tree National Park.

The Blue Ridge Parkway is not affected.  A covenant agreed to in the Parkway’s creation prohibits charging admission fees.  Same for Smokey Mountains National Park in North Carolina.

The proposal to increase fees makes the annual pass to visit any of the parks without additional fees a bargain.  That cost would remain at $80 per year.

As a senior citizen, I paid $10 for  lifetime annual pass a few years ago.  Glad I did because legislation increased that fee to $80 last August.

“”The infrastructure of our national parks is aging and in need of renovation and restoration,” Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke says.  The announcement on the planned fee says “the increase would help pay for badly needed improvements, including to roads, bridges, campgrounds, waterlines, bathrooms and other visitor services at the parks. The fee hikes could also boost national park revenue by $70 million per year.”

Zinke is a former Montana Congressman who came under fire for actually living in California when elected.  More recently, investigations showed he is a frequent user of chartered planes, paid by taxpayers, for travel, a practice that has already cost one Cabinet secretary his job.