Stateside Road Trip travel blog

Color coordinated at Cedar Breaks

I have a pass

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Many recreational types don't like paying access fees. Public land should be free to access, goes the thinking, because my taxes have paid for it. I heard that argument uncounted times during my working years.

Republican tax cuts for the wealthy not withstanding, parks and the like have never competed well against defense, law enforcement, welfare, and so on. Agencies need to ask for fees to do even basic work.

Fees can be a powerful management tool. A park provider in Washington reduced vandalism to its sites by 90% when it introduced day use fees.

I am in favor of fees and am happy to pay. Which explains my federal senior citizen access pass. For the magnificent sum of $10, I bought the right to access National Parks, Monuments, and Forests for no additional charge as long as I have the pass. This trip alone, I did not have to pay $25 at Dinosaur or $35 at Grand Canyon.

The entry station at Grand Canyon displayed a "campground full" notice. At the visitor information center, I asked if it was worth asking if there had been reservation cancellations or no shows. I was encouraged to try. Late in the year and bad weather made it likely, I was told.

At the campground, the registration staff confirmed there was space at the tent only area. That's me, tent guy. I asked if I should fetch my senior pass to establish my right to a 50% discount. No need, she said, the payment system was down: here's your space. No fee.


Some weeks ago, Granddaughter Maggie started fining me 25 cents per bad word uttered in her presence. During our Dinosaur tour, she hit me for $2. The money goes to her adopt-a-sea-turtle fund. Another fee I don't mind paying.

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