More public land agencies are proposing fee increases in Wyoming as campers, hikers and backpackers continue to pour into the state’s mountains and backcountry areas. 

While Grand Teton National Park is seeking public input on a proposed rate hike for backcountry camping permits, the Shoshone National Forest is accepting comments on a range of increases — including new fees at sites that were previously free. The Medicine Bow-Routt National Forests and Thunder Basin National Grassland are also proposing rate hikes for campgrounds and day-use areas.

Increases can help managers keep up with demand and bring fees in line with comparable recreation costs, they say. 

“The proposed fee increases will help us operate and maintain the sites to the level and quality people have come to expect as well as make the fees more consistent with other similar recreation sites throughout the state,” Acting Shoshone National Forest Supervisor Kathleen Minor said in a statement. 

Grand Teton backcountry 

Those who want to travel the rugged backcountry of Grand Teton National Park currently pay $45 for advanced reservations and $35 for walk-up permits, regardless of group size or number of nights. 

Backpackers in Grand Teton National Park. (D. Lehle/National Park Service)

The park’s proposed permit fee change calls for a flat fee of $20, plus $7 per person, per night. The current fees, which have been in place for six years, are often viewed as inequitable between small and large groups and the number of nights stayed, according to the National Park Service.

The public can comment through Sept. 4. Comments must be submitted through the park’s planning website. 

Backcountry permit fee revenue is used to help staff provide safety information, patrol campsites, provide visitor services, aid in search and rescue efforts and maintain and improve everything from trails to campsites, according to the NPS. 

If passed, the park’s rate change would take effect for the 2024 permit season with advanced reservations anticipated to go live in January.

Shoshone proposal 

The Shoshone National Forest is proposing fee increases, as well as new fees, at nearly 40 sites across the vast 2.4-million-acre forest in western Wyoming.  

Existing campground fees have been in place since 2006, and more than 70% of day-use sites, overnight camping sites and other recreation sites are currently managed without fees, according to the Shoshone National Forest.  

The proposal calls for fee increases at 38 sites across five districts: Clarks Fork, Greybull, Wind River, Wapiti and Washakie. Proposals range from $10 per night at Wood River Campground (currently free) to $20 per night at Worthen Meadows Campground (currently $15) to $225 per night at the Sunlight Rangers Cabin (currently $150).

Raising the fee revenue can help the forests improve infrastructure at campsites and hire additional staff for tasks like cleaning and repairing, according to the National Forest. “The revenue … helps provide quality recreation opportunities that meet the modern expectations of visitors,” the agency stated in a news release, “and creates a more financially sustainable developed recreation program for the benefit of current and future generations.”

The public can comment through Oct. 31 online or by emailing Oral comments can be provided in person or by calling 307-578-5140. Comment cards will also be provided at the district offices, campgrounds and Sunlight Rangers Cabin, according to the agency. 

A picnicker on the Shoshone National Forest sets up for a meal near Worthen Meadows Reservoir. (Katie Klingsporn/WyoFile)

Once public involvement is complete, the Wyoming Recreation Action Team will review proposed fee changes. The citizens’ advisory committee, which is tasked with ensuring the Forest Service is proposing reasonable and publicly acceptable new fees and fee changes, will submit its recommendation to the regional forester for a final decision. 

Medicine Bow-Routt too 

The Medicine Bow-Routt National Forests and Thunder Basin National Grassland are also proposing fee increases. That system is considering price hikes at 93 day-use and campground sites in the 2.9-million-acre system spanning eastern Wyoming and northern Colorado, it announced earlier this year.  

The Med Bow proposal would up fees at 67 existing sites and institute them at 26 others — 60 are in Wyoming. At Vedauwoo Campground, for example, fees would increase to $20 per site from $10, while use of the gazebo would increase to $75 a day from $50. Funds will be used for everything from road improvements to toilet services. 

With national forest visits increasing, Aaron Voos, a spokesman for Medicine Bow-Routt National Forests and Thunder Basin National Grassland, told WyoFile in June that Med Bow district managers want to point people to developed recreation sites. Part of that is because “it helps take some of the impacts of dispersed recreation off of the forest,” he said.  

Those comments will be accepted through Nov. 1.

Katie Klingsporn reports on outdoor recreation, public lands, education and general news for WyoFile. She’s been a journalist and editor covering the American West for 20 years. Her freelance work has...

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  1. If you can afford to pay for the gas to get to one of the beautiful remote campsites in our national forests, you can well afford slightly higher fees to have a decent place to camp and recreate. We do need to make sure that the fees go towards improvements.

  2. It’s a total joke this day an age you have to pay to enjoy God’s green earth! Our government overlords are experts on wasteful spending of the ridiculous amount of tax dollars we pay every year. Maybe some of the billions we send to Ukraine could be used over here maintaining OUR PUBLIC lands instead.

  3. Concessionairs of forest service campgrounds and other sites are siphoning off the revenues generated from fees while not maintaining the infrastructure put in by the forest service decades ago. Rotting tables, crumbling trailer and tent pads, poorly serviced pit toilets and no potable water where there used to be, are just a few of the examples that are apparent. Get rid of them. Bring back the forest service to manage these facilities to the standards that was enjoyed, not so many decades ago. Stop outsourcing. It is the root cause of higher fees and lower standards.

  4. Jerry Becker:
    On the short term I applaud the wisdom and efforts to maintain the forests and park lands of Wyoming and for that manner the entire US. But on a clear long term perspective I have a real problem with the insidious nature of a growing “pay to play” mentality. For years there have been an effective cut in the amounts of support for the public use of our parks and back country areas, these areas are held in trust for all people and not only for those who can comfortably afford them. We live in a society, that for better or worse, has turned into a divided society of “haves and have nots” with the top 1 or2 percent having and controlling considerably more than the bottom 50 or 60 percent. More and more we see efforts by moneyed interests to block access to areas of national ownership to and for themselves or to limit the access of the less fortunate “riff-raff.” I believe that the correct solution is to properly fund these “National treasures “ which hasn’t been done for many years and allow and encourage the people to carefully and fully use these areas that they own with the fewest obstacles and the lowest possible “token” upfront costs. Proper fund the Park Service, stop limiting access to public lands quit catering to special commercial interests on public lands. They belong to everyone and the elected officials are custodians of those lands to the public and not special interest as has been the sad history particularly in Wyoming.

  5. All extra fees should be charged to out of state people only, as we already pay through our state taxes.

    1. “… fees should be charged to out of state people only …”
      In National Forests and Parks; yeah, brilliant idea. And all those taxes paid in Whyomin … should cover about the cost of one pit toilet clean out by shovel per year.