Park Entrance and Camping Fees Increase Beginning January 1 2016

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Date: October 26, 2015

After careful consideration, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore (National Lakeshore) will increase entrance and camping fees beginning January 1, 2016 in order to fund important maintenance and visitor service projects within the park and comply with a nationwide review of national park entrance fees.

Below is a list of fees with changes: 

Park Entrance Pass – Per Private Vehicle (valid for 1-7 days from date of purchase);  
current fee:$10, new fee: $15

Park Entrance Pass – Motorcycle (valid for 1-7 days from date of purchase);  
current fee: $5 Per Person,  new fee: $10 Per Motorcycle

Sleeping Bear Dunes Annual Park Entrance Pass (valid for one year from month of purchase);  
current fee: $20,  new fee: $30

Per Person Entrance Pass (visitors 16 years of age or older who enter on foot, bicycle, or as part of an organized group not involved in a commercial tour);  
current fee: $5,  new fee: $7

Camping – D. H. Day Campground, first come, first served;  
current fee: $12, new fee: $16

Camping – D. H. Day Group Campground, group size up to 25 people;  
current fee: $30 first come, first served, new fee: $33, reservation: $40

Camping – Platte River CampgroundNon-Electric (up to 6 people or one family);  
current fee: $16 first come, first served, new fee: $19, reservation: $22

Camping – Platte River Campground – Electric (up to 6 people or one family);  
current fee: $21 first come, first served, new fee: $24, reservation: $27

Camping – Platte River Campground – Walk-in (up to 6 people or one family);  
current fee: $12 first come, first served, new fee: $15,  reservation: $18

Camping – Platte River Campground – Group (group size up to 25 people);
current fee: $40 first come, first served, new fee: $43, reservation: $50

Camping – Backcountry Permit – Mainland & Manitou Islands, first come, first served (up to 4 people and 2 tents);  
current fee: $5, new fee: $10

Camping – Backcountry Group - South Manitou Island (group size 9 to 20 people);  
current fee: $20 first come, first served, new fee: $23, reservation: $30

Camping – Backcountry Group – North Manitou Island, first come, first served  (group size up to 10 people);  
current fee: $10, new fee: $20

In 2014, the National Park Service (NPS) conducted a nationwide review of entrance fees. The National Lakeshore was grouped with other similar parks and was slated to raise the seven-day entrance pass from $10 to $20 and the annual entrance pass for the park from $20 to $40. The National Lakeshore felt that this was too great of an increase, and received permission to scale back the proposed increase to a more modest raise of $10 to $15 for the seven-day entrance pass and $20 to $30 for the annual entrance pass.

To solicit public input on the proposed increases, the National Lakeshore conducted a civic engagement campaign last fall. Responses to the proposed increases varied widely. Most people expressed support for a rate increase.  Some people felt the increases were too high, while others felt the increases were not large enough. A number suggested that a one-day entrance pass should be added. The National Lakeshore carefully reviewed all of the responses and thanks everyone who commented.  

The suggestion for a one-day pass received serious consideration, but the National Lakeshore decided not to add it. The resources and recreational opportunities available at the National Lakeshore make it much more than a one-day park. Providing a one-day pass might benefit some visitors, but would limit their incentive and opportunities to fully experience the National Lakeshore. The National Lakeshore also had serious concerns about the difficulty and cost of establishing a one-day pass, as well as the added wait times visitors would experience as those who decided to return processed an upgrade to the longer pass.

The camping fee rates were derived through comparability reviews with other camping facilities and opportunities in the local area. The new fee schedule has also been simplified, making it easier to understand. For example, the separate reservation fee for reservable campsites has been removed and the cost for hot showers at Platte River Campground has been combined into the nightly camping fee, removing the need for the cumbersome shower token system.

“We were pleased that most of the feedback received during the comment period was in support of the fee increases,” said National Lakeshore Superintendent Dusty Shultz. “The additional revenue, 80% of which stays right here at the National Lakeshore, will allow us to continue to protect, preserve and share the special places here at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore with current visitors and future generations. After carefully considering the impact of a fee increase on visitors and community members, we came to the conclusion that this is the right course of action to improve facilities and services important to visitors. And a visit to the park is still a great deal for families!” 

Entrance fees and first come, first served camping fees have not increased at the National Lakeshore since 2004. A slight increase in fees for reservable campsites occurred in 2006. Fees for backcountry camping have remained unchanged since 2001. National Lakeshore entrance fees are not charged to persons 15 years of age or younger, nor to holders of passes in the “America the Beautiful - National Parks and Federal Recreation Lands Series;” Annual, Senior, Access, or Military Passes. These passes may be obtained at the National Lakeshore as well as at other federal fee areas and their cost is not being raised. Entrance and camping fees have supported a wide range of projects that improve the park and visitor experiences, including:

  • Additional visitor programs throughout the year
  • Maintenance and upkeep of Platte River and D. H. Day Campgrounds
  • Renovate the visitor contact stations at Platte River and D. H. Day Campgrounds
  • Provide visitor facilities and services at Glen Haven Historic District
  • Dredge the docks on South Manitou and North Manitou Islands to improve visitor access
  • Renovate South Manitou Island Visitor Center and provide for accessibility
  • Improve visitor information provided at beaches and trailheads
  • Evaluate forest pests and remove hazard trees
  • Renovate the program area at the Dune Climb

Additional revenue from this fee increase will fund a wide variety of visitor projects, including:

  • Rehabilitation of the South Manitou Island Lighthouse and Keepers Quarters
  • Historic preservation work within the Port Oneida Rural Historic District
  • Provide visitor use facilities in Port Oneida
  • Additional custodial services to address recent increases in visitation
  • Improving beach and river accessibility
  • Hazard tree assessment / removal and management of scenic viewpoints
  • New wayside exhibits
  • Upgrade of electrical service at Platte River Campground to accommodate electric vehicles

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is a strong economic engine for the surrounding area. The most recent NPS annual report shows that 1,395,400 visitors to the National Lakeshore spent $144.7 million in communities near the park. That spending supported 2,309 jobs in the local area. 

For more information, please contact Merrith Baughman, Chief of Interpretation and Visitor Services, at 231-326-4725, or for in-depth information about the National Lakeshore, please call 231-326-4700. Also, check us out on Facebook and Twitter.

Last updated: November 5, 2015

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