Monday, April 09, 2012
Public Park Fees
On my journey out West I took increasing notice of the fees being charged to enter public parks. This is wrong. I haven’t fleshed out my arguments against it yet -- I haven’t done my research yet -- but I know in my bones that this -- charging for access to public parks -- is wrong.
Let me say right up front, I can afford them. This is not a financial issue for me. It’s the Average Joe I worry about. The average American trying to raise a family that needs a cheap vacation or day of recreation with his family. His taxes have already paid for the park -- and now we are going to nickel and dime him to death.
In New Mexico, it was around $5 to enter a State park. In Colorado, it was $7. When I tried to enter the Lake Pueblo State Park in Colorado -- a hour before dawn -- they wanted their money paid and warned of dire consequences if you didn’t display the decal on your windshield. The only problem? There was no one there (of course) and all the self-service envelopes (think about that, charging for self-service) were gone. No one to take my money and no way to prove that I had paid any money.
I didn’t say much about this during my trip until I got to the Rocky Mountain National Park. I had no idea. It was $20 to get into the park. It was only $30 to get into a couple of local tourist traps. But my taxes don’t pay for tourist traps. They do pay for the Rocky Mountain National Park.
In my youth, I watched as State parks were converted into parking pads for motor homes. I thought it was wrong. (Still do.) But I could still camp out for free -- or next to nothing. But $20 bucks to get into a National park?
On the way home, I reached my limit with this absurdity. It was in a Kansas State Park -- again, a hour before dawn. The price of admission was $3.75 (I think.) Again, no one is there. I’m trying to read and fill out the self-service envelope by my car headlights and it hit me. I don’t have any change. It’s 6 o’clock in the morning, in the middle of nowhere and I’m supposed to have change? It turns out I didn’t even have any small bills. I had a one dollar bill, no change and a bunch of twenties. Guess how much the State of Kansas got? (You’ll never catch me, Kansas.) Oh yeah, and the bathrooms were locked too.
Kudos to Alabama. $2 bucks on the “honor system”. No forms. No windshield stickers.
April 9, 2012