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The Cost Of Visiting Joshua Tree National Park Could Nearly Triple

Joshua Tree National Park. (Photo by Ed Leckert via the LAist Featured Photos pool on Flickr)
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L.A.’s favorite desert getaway could become a lot more expensive to visit.

Joshua Tree National Park is among the 17 tourist destinations for which the National Park Service has proposed significantly raising the entrance fee. Under the new proposal, each car would be charged $70 to enter the park, or nearly three times as much as the current $25 fee, during peak season. Bikes and motorcyles would be charged $50, or more than four times the current $12 price, and those ambitious enough to stroll in on foot would be slapped with a $30 fee, up from $12.

What’s behind the potential price hike? A backlog of maintenance and infrastructure projects, which totaled $11.3 billion in fiscal year 2016. That backlog accounts for projects across the National Park Service, which operates 59 national parks throughout the country — among hundreds of other sites — and nine in California alone, more than in any other state.

If you think paying $70 to breathe fresh air, climb spectacular rocks, and catch a glimpse of the brightest stars within a two-hour drive of Los Angeles is outrageous, then the National Park Service wants to hear from you. They’re accepting public comment on the proposal through November 23 via this form on their website. If the proposal is approved, these rates would apply during the park’s busiest five-month period, from January 1 through May 31, and could go into effect as early as 2018, according to the Desert Sun.

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Joshua Tree National Park is the only site in the proposal whose peak season is not in the summer — camping in the desert in August is its own form of cruel and unusual punishment — but it’s one of more than a dozen that would be affected by the new proposal. Here’s the full list of parks that would see the same increase in entrance fees, which could put a serious damper on your travel plans:

May 1-September 30: Arches National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park, Canyonlands National Park, Denali National Park, Glacier National Park, Grand Canyon National Park, Grand Teton National Park, Olympic National Park, Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Park, Yellowstone National Park, Yosemite National Park, Zion National Park.

June 1-October 31: Acadia National Park, Mount Rainier National Park, Rocky Mountain National Park, Shenandoah National Park.