Fees to increase at New Mexico’s newest national park

December 31, 2019 GMT

ALAMOGORDO, N.M. (AP) — Officials at White Sands National Park say entrance fees will be increasing with the start of the new year.

The increase isn’t related to the recent change in designation from a national monument to a national park but because of plans by the National Park Service to increase fees nationwide. Officials say the fee hike will mean more revenue that can be used for infrastructure and maintenance at the New Mexico park.

Starting Jan. 1, entry to the park will be $25 per vehicle, $15 per person and $20 per motorcycle. The annual parks pass and lifetime pass for seniors will remain $80.

Home to the largest gypsum dunefield in the world, White Sands National Park sees hundreds of thousands of visitors every year, more than any other park service location in New Mexico. It’s also home to the world’s largest collection of Ice Age fossilized footprints.

Of the new revenue raised at White Sands, officials say 80 percent will remain at the southern New Mexico park.

Officials say the money has enabled upgrades to a boardwalk designed to provide more accessibility to the dunes, restoration of the porch poles at the historic visitor center and rehabilitation of the 1930s-era sewage system.

Last year, the water tower also was overhauled to help with much-needed improvements to the park’s water delivery system.

Park entrance fees also have been used to update and repair picnic facilities, create exhibits and facilitate ranger-led public programs.

White Sands has charged an entrance fee since 1937. It’s one of 165 National Park Service sites with a fee; the other 254 national parks are free.

In mid-December, White Sands became the 62nd designated national park as President Donald Trump signed a defense spending measure, which included a provision on the redesignation.