Drive-through parks charge a fee per car; walk-in parks often charge per person. Children under 16 are usually free; senior citizens used to be free but beginning this year they must purchase a $10 pass, which is good for their lifetime. For $25, anyone can buy an annual Golden Eagle pass that gets them into all parks for free.
In general, parks created before 1940 have no problem meeting Park Service criteria for park or in paying their way out of increased user fees. Parks created between 1940 and 1960 are marginal, while parks created after 1960 are in trouble on both counts.
Average High Where Low Where Budget $1,700,000 $18,000,000 Yellowstone $100,000 Hovenweep $ per visit 2.11 433 Gates of the Arctic 0.17 Muir Woods $ per hour 0.40 162 Olmsted .08 Blue Ridge $ per acre 6.92 624,000 Olmsted 0.11 Gates of the Arctic Employees 40 500 Yosemite 1 Little River Canyon $/FTE $40,000 $24,000 Scotts Bluff $201,000 City of RocksAverage, high, and low budgets per visitor, per visitor hour, per acre, and per employee. Note that Gates of the Arctic has the highest cost per visitor but the lowest per acre. On a visitorhour basis, its cost is below average at about $5. The parks to worry about are the ones that are high by all measures, particularly visitor hour. The Frederick Law Olmsted is one of several historic sites that performs poorly by these measures. Others that cost more than $100 per visitor hour and well above average both per acre and per employee include the Ulysses Grant, Thomas Stone, and Thaddeus Kosciuszko sites as well as the Monocacy Battlefield.
Rank Park Hours/Visit 1 Gates of the Arctic 79.65 2 Isle Royale 65.24 3 Glen Canyon 35.99 4 Big Bend 32.04 5 Yosemite 27.37 6 Dry Tortugas 22.25 7 Yellowstone 22.21 8 Cumberland Island 21.71 9 Sequoia 21.39 10 Aniakchak 19.90 289 Puukohola Heiau 0.50 290 Jimmy Carter 0.49 291 Castillo de San Marcos 0.48 292 Sitka 0.48 293 Salem Maritime 0.40 294 Christiansted 0.36 295 Monocacy 0.29 296 Thaddeus Kosciuszko 0.27 297 Boston African-American 0.21 298 Biscayne 0.12
Rank Park $/visit 1 Muir Woods 0.17 2 Fort Point 0.20 3 John D. Rockefeller Jr. 0.24 4 Castle Clinton 0.36 5 Blue Ridge Parkway 0.48 6 Cedar Breaks 0.51 7 Chattahoochee River 0.53 8 Mount Rushmore 0.55 9 Ford's Theatre 0.56 10 Golden Gate 0.57 290 Lake Clark 71.78 291 Cape Krusenstern 90.13 292 Isle Royale 93.00 293 Aniakchak 98.28 294 Weir Farm 108.03 295 Saint Paul's Church 161.11 296 Ulysses S. Grant 185.83 297 Yukon-Charley Rivers 307.27 298 Frederick Law Olmsted 324.32 299 Gates of the Arctic 432.58
Rank Park $/hour 1 Blue Ridge Parkway 0.08 2 Glen Canyon 0.09 3 Lake Mead 0.11 4 John D. Rockefeller Jr. 0.12 5 Assateague Island 0.12 6 Amistad 0.12 7 Muir Woods 0.13 8 Great Smoky Mountains 0.13 9 Chattahoochee River 0.13 10 Canyon de Chelly 0.15 290 Weir Farm 37.40 291 Maggie L. Walker 42.14 292 William Howard Taft 42.79 293 Cape Krusenstern 50.17 294 Saint Paul's Church 58.24 295 Thomas Stone 89.54 296 Thaddeus Kosciuszko 99.04 297 Ulysses S. Grant 102.48 298 Monocacy 110.41 299 Frederick Law Olmsted 162.16
Rank Park $/acre 1 Gates of the Arctic 0.11 2 Wrangell-St. Elias 0.12 3 Cape Krusenstern 0.13 4 Bering Land Bridge 0.20 5 Lake Clark 0.22 6 Yukon-Charley Rivers 0.24 7 Aniakchak 0.25 8 Katmai 0.30 9 Glacier Bay 0.52 10 Kenai Fjords 0.94 292 Statue of Liberty 143,483 293 T. Roosevelt Inaugural 147,000 294 White House 157,611 295 Longfellow 181,000 296 Maggie L. Walker 195,000 297 Independence 200,333 298 Edgar Allen Poe 251,000 299 Castle Clinton 472,000 300 Harry S Truman 596,000 301 Frederick Law Olmsted 624,000
1993 Total in Thousands (except FTEs) RecFees Budget Visits Hours FTEs $364 $8,653 17,889 113,212 242 ------ Per visit ------ Per Visitor Hour RecFees Budget Hours RecFees Budget $0.02 $0.48 6 $0.00 $0.08The Parkway reports the largest number of recreation visits and visitor hours of any park. A decline after 1989 probably represents a change in counting techniques. The park budget will be about $9.5 million in 1995.
Criteria Pass Doubt Fail Outstanding example X Exceptional value X Superlative opportunities X High integrity X Not adequately represented X Sufficient size X No other agency X Pay its way (as is) X Pay its way (reformed) XIn contrast to Lassen Park, which was unique when it was created but seems mediocre today, the Blue Ridge Parkway was a classic pork barrel project when it was conceived, yet has grown into an outstanding and valuable resource. At the time the parkway was built, the nation had built many highways in its craftsman style. Today, most of those roads have been torn out and replaced with superhighways. Yet Americans still appreciate a leisurely road that passes through beautiful scenery-- as attested by the park's popularity.
In order to provide "proper care and management of the historical objects" in the area, President Eisenhower added 80 acres to the monument, including the lighthouse, in 1959. President Ford added more in 1974, bringing its total size to 137 acres. The enlarged area also includes coastal tidepools.
1993 Total in Thousands (except FTEs) RecFees Budget Visits Hours FTEs $562 $831 1,152 1,633 22 ------ Per visit ------ Per Visitor Hour RecFees Budget Hours RecFees Budget $0.49 $0.72 1 $0.34 $0.51Visitation has declined since a 1987 peak of 1.8 million visits. Entrance fees and large crowds bring in sufficient receipts to cover most of the park's costs. Although Cabrillo's budget is expected to increase only slightly by 1995, a 33 percent increase since 1987 combined with declining visitation translates to a doubling of per-visitor costs, from 35cents to 72cents, in just six years.
Criteria Pass Doubt Fail Outstanding example X Exceptional value X Superlative opportunities X High integrity X Not adequately represented X Sufficient size X No other agency X Pay its way (as is) X Pay its way (reformed) XState and national parks contain plenty of lighthouses, statues, tidepools, and coastal defense structures, so there is nothing outstanding or exceptional about Cabrillo. Since no one has any idea whether Cabrillo himself ever stopped near this spot, it probably does not qualify as a monument under a strict interpretation of the Antiquities Act. A relatively small fee hike would be sufficient for the park to pay its way.
1993 Total in Thousands (except FTEs) RecFees Budget Visits Hours FTEs $0 $319 0 0 5 ------ Per visit ------ Per Visitor Hour RecFees Budget Hours RecFees Budget $0 $-- 0 $0 $--The site is not yet open to visitors. A slight increase in budget brought FTEs to 8 in 1994.
Criteria Pass Doubt Fail Outstanding example X Exceptional value X Superlative opportunities X High integrity X Not adequately represented X Sufficient size X No other agency X Pay its way (as is) X Pay its way (reformed) XState and national parks and other historic areas contain plenty of early American homes, so there is nothing outstanding or exceptional about Cabrillo. It is possible that the area could pay its way, but like many other historic buildings it would require heavy local fundraising and volunteer efforts. Making the area a national park merely left that work to Uncle Sam.
1993 Total in Thousands (except FTEs) RecFees Budget Visits Hours FTEs $0 $201 84 295 1 ------ Per visit ------ Per Visitor Hour RecFees Budget Hours RecFees Budget $0 $2.39 3 $0 $0.68The park actually has a staff of 8.5 full-time equivalents, but most are paid by the state of Idaho. The 1993 Park Service plan suggests that the federal government may continue to pay some salaries of "specialized positions."
1993 Total in Thousands (except FTEs) RecFees Budget Visits Hours FTEs $680 $3,626 998 8,128 94 ------ Per visit ------ Per Visitor Hour RecFees Budget Hours RecFees Budget $0.68 $3.62 8 $0.08 $0.44Perhaps in anticipation of the new park legislation, the Park Service expects a 33 percent budget increase from 1993 to 1995.
There is little reason why the BLM could not have managed the new acres; environmentalists advocated their transfer mainly because of a lack of trust of the BLM. A major issue was whether the new acres would be open to off-road vehicles; as a park they are closed. While the BLM could have closed them as well, James Ridenour doubted whether either the Park Service or the BLM could enforce such a closure.
In an effort to promote tourism, people proposed that the area be added to the National Park System as early as the 1930s. One rancher attempted to turn an ice cave into a tourist attraction and the focus of a dude ranch.
Although it is called a monument, El Malpais was created by Congress in 1987 and is the largest unit of the Park System created since the Alaska parks were designated in 1980. Legislation creating the monument directed that grazing would be phased out by 1998.
1993 Total in Thousands (except FTEs) RecFees Budget Visits Hours FTEs $0 $520 90 375 16 ------ Per visit ------ Per Visitor Hour RecFees Budget Hours RecFees Budget $0 $5.76 4 $0 $1.38The park's budget will increase only slightly in 1995.
The Park Service's rationale for making the area a park instead of leaving it with the BLM, which previously managed it, is that the BLM has a "different mission and function," namely to provide for multiple use rather than just recreation. Yet recreation is one of the multiple uses, so this seems contrived.
The foundation was unable to finance the operation, so the Park Service took it over. This happened with the help of George Miller, a member of the House Interior Committee who represented the district, and William Penn Mott, who was soon to be director of the National Park Service and who happened to be on the board of the Eugene O'Neill Foundation. The foundation continued to sponsor artistic activities, including performances and artists-in-residence programs, in the park.
Local residents registered even greater protest to a Park Service proposal to build a new road to the property. The current access road is private and shared by local homeowners. The Park Service can use it for its own vehicles but the public cannot. To date, members of the public who want to visit the site must take a Park Service shuttle bus from the nearby town of Danville.
In 1990, the Park Service backed off from the road proposal but still planned to tear down the barn and add to the caretaker's house. The foundation is still protesting, but the controversy remains minimal because the park isn't likely to get funds anytime soon.
1993 Total in Thousands (except FTEs) RecFees Budget Visits Hours FTEs $0 $226 3 7 7 ------ Per visit ------ Per Visitor Hour RecFees Budget Hours RecFees Budget $0 $75.16 2 $0 $31.04Limited visitation make this one of the most expensive parks per visitor in the system. The park will gain only slight budget increases in 1995.
1993 Total in Thousands (except FTEs) RecFees Budget Visits Hours FTEs $724 $8,102 974 5,255 225 ------ Per visit ------ Per Visitor Hour RecFees Budget Hours RecFees Budget $0.74 $8.32 5 $0.14 $1.54Reported visitation peaked in 1991 at 1.3 million people. Since 1990, the number of hours reported per visitor declined from more than 8 to less than 5.5. Nevertheless, the park's budget is expected to exceed $12.5 million in 1995, a 50 percent increase from 1993.
1993 Total in Thousands (except FTEs) RecFees Budget Visits Hours FTEs $0 $1,248 4 8 48 ------ Per visit ------ Per Visitor Hour RecFees Budget Hours RecFees Budget $0 $324.32 2 $0 $162.16Limited visitation and a huge staff combine to make this the most expensive park in the system in many ways--per visitor, per visitor hour, and per acre. Part of the expense is due to the fact that the park superintendent also adminsters the Kennedy Birthplace and Longfellow House. Those two sites account for 16 of the reported staff of 48, and perhaps 16 more share their time between all three sites. That leaves Olmsted with about 21 FTEs, mostly people working on preserving the collection of drawings. This would indicate a cost of more than $200 per visitor and $100 per visitor hour--still a near-record for the park system. The parks' staff declined slightly 1994 but its budget increased by nearly 10 percent.
1993 Total in Thousands (except FTEs) RecFees Budget Visits Hours FTEs $1,224 $13,615 5,898 23,855 397 ------ Per visit ------ Per Visitor Hour RecFees Budget Hours RecFees Budget $0.21 $2.31 4 $0.05 $0.57Gateway's reported visitation peaked in 1983 at 10.3 million; a 33-percent decline in 1988 may indicate a change in counting techniques.
1993 Total in Thousands (except FTEs) RecFees Budget Visits Hours FTEs $1,331 $6,980 2,142 17,966 202 ------ Per visit ------ Per Visitor Hour RecFees Budget Hours RecFees Budget $0.62 $3.26 8 $0.07 $0.39 Visitation in 1992 was a record 2.2 million. The park budget is increasing by more than 10 percent by 1995.
Golden Spike Historical Site
WhatIn 1869, the first transcontinental railroad was completed when the last rail was fixed into position with a gold spike at Promentory, Utah. This park commemorates that event with a museum and replicas of the locomotives that first touched couplers in 1869.
HistoryAfter the turn-of-the-century, the railroad rerouted its line to another location but retained ownership of the land. In 1957, Congress declared the area, still railroad owned, a historic site. In 1965, in anticipation of the centennial, Congress authorized the purchase of 2,200 acres.
ImprovementsThe park has a small visitors center resembling an early train station. But the stars of the show are the replica locomotives, built for the Park Service at a cost of more than $2 million. For several years after the centennial, Park Service employees in period costumes recreated the laying of the last rail several times a day for visitors. Congress eventually stopped funding this.
Western Park Service officials, envious of Steamtown's huge budgets, are hoping to recreate something similar (at least in budget) at Golden Spike. The Southern Pacific Railroad recently donated its right-of-way between Promentory and Corinne, Utah, to the government. Tracks exist between Corinne and Ogden. The Park Service is studying the feasibility of running tourist trains from Ogden to Golden Spike.
VisitationThe average visitor spends about 1.5 hours at the park.
ReceiptsThe park collects between $20,000 and $25,000 per year by charging visitors $2.
BudgetThe park's budget today is about $550,000 per year to support 14 employees. This works out to more than $10 per visitor and more than $6
Visits, Receipts, and Budget1993 Total in Thousands (except FTEs) RecFees Budget Visits Hours FTEs $23 $530 51 127 14 ------ Per visit ------ Per Visitor Hour RecFees Budget Hours RecFees Budget $0.44 $10.35 2 $0.18 $4.16Visitation peaked at 170,000 during the 1969 centennial, then quickly fell to around 50,000 where it has remained ever since.
WhatGrand Canyon Park includes nearly 180 miles of the Colorado River from Glen Canyon Dam to the north to the reservoir formed by Hoover Dam in the south.
HistoryOriginally part of Grand Canyon National Forest, the canyon itself was made a national monument in 1908 and--with the support of the Santa Fe Railroad--transferred to the Park Service as a park in 1919. Marble Canyon became a national monument in 1969 and was merged into the park in 1975.
ImprovementsThe popular south rim road goes through the park passing a visitors center and El Tovar, a hotel built by the Santa Fe Railway. The less-used north rim road terminates in the park at a hotel built by the Union Pacific Railway. The park is spending $23 million to reconstruct the south rim road and more than $50 million on water pipelines and treatment facilities.
Visits, Receipts, and Budget1993 Total in Thousands (except FTEs) RecFees Budget Visits Hours FTEs $10,504 $11,214 4576 69,898 294 ------ Per visit ------ Per Visitor Hour RecFees Budget Hours RecFees Budget $2.30 $2.45 15 $0.15 $0.16Visitation reached record levels in 1992 and again in 1993. The budget will increase only slightly in 1995.
WhatThe Kohrs family owned one of the largest ranches in Montana and bought this home from a man named Grant to use as ranch headquarters. In addition to the house and about 1,400 acres of land, the site contains numerous barns, ranch equipment, and other historic artifacts in very good condition.
HistoryThe Grant-Kohrs National Historic Site was created by Congress in 1972.
ImprovementsThe Park Service has a parking lot and a tiny visitors center.
Visits, Receipts, and Budget1993 Total in Thousands (except FTEs) RecFees Budget Visits Hours FTEs $8 $636 27 33 20 ------ Per visit ------ Per Visitor Hour RecFees Budget Hours RecFees Budget $.28 $23.57 1 $0.23 $19.16Visitation peaked in 1983 at 34,000 people and since then has ranged between 22,000 and 28,000. Fees are charged to see the interior of the house--which is limited to just a few people at a time--otherwise the park is free. The park's 1995 budget is almost 50 percent greater than in 1993.
Great Basin Park
WhatGreat Basin is one of the newest national parks in the U.S. and, except for New Mexico's El Malpais Monument and the California desert parks, the newest large (above 10,000 acres) unit of the park system. The park is supposed to protect examples of Great Basin ecosystems, and includes an ancient bristlecone pine forest.
HistoryOriginally the park was block of the Humboldt National Forest that is separate from the rest of the forest. In 1922, a 640-acre section with limestone caverns was made into the Lehman Caves National Monument. This section was transferred from the Forest Service to the Park Service in 1933. During the 1980s, the Park Service studied various alternative sites for a Great Basin Park. When Congress transferred 76,460 acres from the Forest Service to the Park Service in 1986, it specifically provided that grazing would continue in the park and that the Park Service would not hinder mining on patented claims in and around the park.
ImprovementsThe forest and monument contained campgrounds, roads, and a small visitors center when it was made a park. A 1992 park plan proposes to spend $42 million on a new visitors center, employee housing, roads, and related services.
VisitationAlthough the creation of the park increased the area under Park Service management by 120 times, the park recorded only a 60 to 70 percent increase in visitation--conceivably consisting mostly of people who would have visited the national forest anyway. Currently, about 90,000 per year visit the park, spending an average of 14 hours--meaning most spend the night at one of the campgrounds.
ReceiptsThe park collects less than $150,000 per year, mostly in campground fees.
BudgetThe park spends about $1.4 million per year, which averages $15 per visitor or $1.15 per visitor hour. The park's full-time equivalent staff is 37.
Visits, Receipts, and Budget1993 Total in Thousands (except FTEs) RecFees Budget Visits Hours FTEs $146 $1,385 92 1,219 37 ------ Per visit ------ Per Visitor Hour RecFees Budget Hours RecFees Budget $1.58 $15.07 13 $0.12 $1.14When Lehman Caves Monument became the much-larger Great Basin Park, recorded visitation increased by just 65 percent--mostly people who would have visited the national forest anyway. The park's budget per visitor is one of the highest of all formally designated parks. A slight increase is expected in 1995.
Great Smoky Mountains
WhatThe Smokies are a region in the southern Appalachian Mountains that seem perpetually covered by a bluish haze--moisture, not smoke. Great Smoky Mountains Park includes over half-a-million acres of these mountains and presents many historic buildings and artifacts from early mountain farms.
HistoryThe southern Appalachians were settled in the early nineteenth century. Congress approved a park in the area in 1926 provided someone else would buy the land. In 1928, John D. Rockefeller, Jr., put up $5 million provided it was matched by Tennessee and North Carolina, which they did. The Park Service bought the land from settlers who were allowed to live out their lives on the land. Today, several of the farms and buildings are preserved by the park.
ImprovementsIn addition to roads, the park includes three visitors centers, a few small lodges, and several "living history" exhibits. The park wants to spend $11 million on a new visitors center and $32.5 million to build a missing link in the Foothills Parkway.
Visits, Receipts, and Budget1993 Total in Thousands (except FTEs) RecFees Budget Visits Hours FTEs $835 $9,296 9,284 70,407 284 ------ Per visit ------ Per Visitor Hour RecFees Budget Hours RecFees Budget $0.09 $1.00 8 $0.01 $0.13Recorded visitation peaked at 10.2 million visitors in 1987, declining to 8.1 million in 1990, and climbing back to 9.3 million in 1993. Great Smoky collected over $835,000 in 1993 recreation fees without charging an entrance fee. Its budget will be close to $10 million in 1995.
Kaloko-Honokohau Historical Park
WhatKaloko-Honokohau Historical Park was created by Congress in 1978 to preserve an example of Hawaiian native culture. The park includes 1,160 acres of land, of which slightly more than half is federal. Unfortunately, little has been done with the park because of an on-going dispute with Hawaiian natives who once lived in the area.
HistoryThis area on the west coast of the island of Hawaii was the site of thriving native villages for hundreds of years prior to European discovery of the islands. In 1974, a group of Hawaiians proposed that Kaloko-Honokohau be set aside as a "cultural park" in which native Hawaiians would live and practice traditional activities under the eyes of tourists--something like Williamsburg, Virginia.
Rather than create a new type of park, Congress used the term "historical park" when it created the park in 1978. The Park Service interpreted this to mean that it would do archeological work and present static displays, but it would not encourage native Hawaiians to live in the area. The Park Service bought land from natives and leased it back to them for five-year terms.
By 1992, most of the natives had left, but a few remained and decided to claim "aboriginal title" to part of the park. They sued the government for title to the land and physically prevented park employees and visitors from entering "their" part of the park. The situation remains at an impass at least until the lawsuit is settled.
ImprovementsThe park remains largely undeveloped, but the Park Service has proposed to spend $15 million on a visitors center, offices, roads, and a "replica of a Hawaiian village."
VisitationAbout 40,000 people visit the park each year, mostly to walk on the beach. They spend an average of nearly four hours per visit.
ReceiptsThe park collects less than $500 per year in user fees. This could possibly increase if the ownership dispute is settled in the Park Service's favor.
BudgetDespite the lack of improvements or large numbers of visitors, the Park Service manages to spend about $550,000 per year at the park supporting about a dozen employees. This averages around $15 per visitor or nearly $4 per visitor hour.
Visits, Receipts, and Budget1993 Total in Thousands (except FTEs) RecFees Budget Visits Hours FTEs $0 $532 44 164 10 ------ Per visit ------ Per Visitor Hour RecFees Budget Hours RecFees Budget $0 $11.96 4 $0 $3.24Most park visitors simply walk on the beach. Despite the lack of facilities, the Park Service already spends an extraordinary amount on the park and wants to spend much more. Its 1995 budget is nearly 20 percent greater than in 1993.
Klondike Gold Rush
WhatThe Klondike Gold Rush Historical Park commemorates the 1898 gold rush with a museum in Seattle, restoration of buildings in Skagway, and several thousand acres of land including the Chilkoot Trail.
HistoryThe Klondike was the last great gold rush, in which tens of thousands of people, spurred by a recession, headed for the Yukon Territory. Most Americans passed through Seattle and many went to Skagway or Dyee, Alaska, where they started an arduous hike over snowy mountain passes. Those who made it to the gold fields found that the claims had already been staked, and most returned.
The park was created in 1976 and adjoins a Canadian park that includes the eastern portion of the Chilkoot Trail. Skagway is a destination for hundreds of thousands of cruise ship passengers and other Alaska tourists each summer. Thousands of people hike the Chilkoot Trail each year, which is generally a three- to four-day trip.
ImprovementsThe Park Service has spend millions of dollars restoring buildings in Skagway. A visitors center is located in the old train station, and other buildings either contain displays or are leased to local merchants. The park's next move is to spend $1.3 million restoring two historic buildings, one of which will be used as an employee bunkhouse.
Visits, Receipts, and Budget1993 Total in Thousands (except FTEs) RecFees Budget Visits Hours FTEs $0 $1,131 403 1,616 21 5 263 105 79 8 ------ Per visit ------ Per Visitor Hour RecFees Budget Hours RecFees Budget $0 $2.80 4 $0 $0.70 0.06 2.51 1 0.05 3.34The first row in each table above is for the Alaska portion of the park; the second is for the Seattle unit. Reported visitation to the Skagway unit nearly tripled, and visitor hours octupled, in 1993, almost certainly due to a counting change. Park budgets are expected to increase only slightly in 1995.
Lassen Volcanic Park
WhatThis 106,000-acre park includes many remnants of recent and active vulcanism, including hot springs, fumeroles, mud pots, and sulphur vents.
HistoryMt. Lassen, a supposedly "extinct" volcano, began erupting in 1914. Part of it was already a national monument managed by the Forest Service. Congress made it into a national park in 1916.
ImprovementsAside from a major highway through the park, the park includes a visitors center, a museum, campgrounds, and a ski area. The museum and ski area have been the subject of controversies in recent years.
The distinctive museum had been built with native rock by private efforts a few years after the eruptions. The museum and a campground had been located near a major rockslide that had taken place several hundred years ago. In the early 1970s, the Park Service closed the museum--but not the campground--citing that the danger of another rockslide. Friends of the park were upset, accusing the agency of trying to extort more money out of Congress. In the 1980s, the park quietly opened the museum again.
The ski area debate was more contentious. Few ski resorts are located within national park boundaries, and the Sierra Club and other environmental groups wanted to close this one. But the resort and local skiers lobbied hard to expand it. As a compromise, the Park Service decided to leave it open but not expand it. Due to competition from new ski resorts, the ski area shut down in 1993.
Visits, Receipts, and Budget1993 Total in Thousands (except FTEs) RecFees Budget Visits Hours FTEs $372 $2,401 434 4,746 58 ------ Per visit ------ Per Visitor Hour RecFees Budget Hours RecFees Budget $0.86 $5.53 11 $0.08 $0.51Visitation peaked in 1988 at nearly 500,000. The park's budget remains about the same through 1995.
Montezuma Castle and Tuzigoot
WhatMontezuma Castle National Monument presents an extremely well-preserved cliff dwelling. Although the Anasazi ruin is roughly 1,000 years old, it is 90 percent intact. Nearby are other ruins known as Montezuma well and Tuzigoot, a separate monument managed by the same superintendent. The Castle is on 840 acres of federal land; Tuzigoot contains 800 acres, only 58 of which are federal.
HistoryMontezuma Castle was proclaimed a national monument in 1906 and has been in Park Service hands since the agency was created. Tuzigoot was made a monument in 1939; most of its non-federal acres were added in 1979.
ImprovementsBoth the Castle and Tuzigoot have visitors centers built during Mission 66. The Park Service would like to replace them with more adequate and less intrusive buildings, but so far has not have the funds. At one point, the Park Service presented artifacts and museum displays at the nearby Yavapai-Apache Cultural Center, but lost its lease to the space and the displays are now in storage.
Visits, Receipts, and Budget1993 Total in Thousands (except FTEs) RecFees Budget Visits Hours FTEs $1,111 $764 1,056 1,659 21 ------ Per visit ------ Per Visitor Hour RecFees Budget Hours RecFees Budget $0.87 $0.72 1 $0.89 $0.74Together, the Castle and Tuzigoot are the only units of the National Park System that bring in more money than they spend. Visitation has doubled in the last decade and is high because of the monument's proximity to Interstate 17, the main road from Phoenix to the Grand Canyon and other recreation areas. Tuzigoot, which is further from the highway, gets only a tenth of the visitors.
WhatThe highest mountain in the Cascade Range forms the center of this 236,000-acre park.
HistoryEstablished in 1899, Rainier is doubly a "railroad" park: First because it was the centerpiece, second only to Yellowstone, of Northern Pacific efforts to promote passenger traffic. Second, much of the park was originally part of the Northern Pacific land grant, but the railroad generously traded its alpine acres in the park for low-elevation old-growth forests on an acre-for-acre basis.
ImprovementsTwo highways cross the park and reach visitors centers, campgrounds, and two inns. The park wants to spend $9 million to rehabilitate a visitors center and replace a lodge and $38 million rehabilitating roads and bridges.
Visits, Receipts, and Budget1993 Total in Thousands (except FTEs) RecFees Budget Visits Hours FTEs $1,107 $6,660 1,365 18,981 154 ------ Per visit ------ Per Visitor Hour RecFees Budget Hours RecFees Budget $0.81 $4.88 14 $0.06 $0.36Visitation in 1991 reached a record 1.55 million visitors and 22.5 million hours. The park's budget will increase slightly by 1995.
Natchez Trace Parkway
WhatThe 415-mile parkway connects Nashville, Tennessee with Jackson, Mississippi and is supposed to eventually reach another 30 miles to Natchez, Mississippi.
HistoryThe Natchez Trace (which means trail) was first an Indian trail and later a trade route from the Mississippi River to Nashville. Construction began in 1934 as an employment project and the road was placed in Park Service hands in 1938.
ImprovementsThe 52,000 federal acres along the road include a visitors center and several campgrounds. The park wants to spend $9 million to reconstruct portions of the existing road and $39 million to extend the parkway south.
Visits, Receipts, and Budget1993 Total in Thousands (except FTEs) RecFees Budget Visits Hours FTEs $0 $5,906 5,753 23,263 129 ------ Per visit ------ Per Visitor Hour RecFees Budget Hours RecFees Budget $0 $1.03 4 $0 $0.25Reported recreation use reached record levels of 14.4 million visitors in 1986. Major declines in 1987 and 1990 may be counting changes. The parkway reports another 7 million nonrecreation users per year. Its budget will increase slightly in 1995.
WhatThe Olympic combines glaciated mountains, old-growth forests, and ocean beaches in its 913,000 federal (and 9,600 non-federal) acres.
HistoryOriginally part of Olympic National Forest, the core of the park was made a monument in1909 and transferred to the Park Service in 1933 and formally made a park in 1938. The Park Service lobbied hard for additions from the national forest that still provoke controversy 40 years later.
ImprovementsPreservation groups supported the Park Service's efforts to expand the park on the condition that most of the park would remain wilderness. As a result, the park has only a few roads, two visitors centers, no major hotels, and 95 percent is designated wilderness. The Park Service wants to spend $35 million to remove an old dam and restore the stream plus $6.4 million reconstructing roads.
Visits, Receipts, and Budget1993 Total in Thousands (except FTEs) RecFees Budget Visits Hours FTEs $787 $6,521 2,680 16,830 183 ------ Per visit ------ Per Visitor Hour RecFees Budget Hours RecFees Budget $0.29 $2.43 6 $0.05 $0.39The park hosted a record level of slightly more than 3 million visitors in 1992. The park's 1995 budget will be nearly 15 percent larger than in 1993.
WhatThe Presidio is a 1,480-acre army post on the edge of San Francisco Bay and the Pacific Ocean. Half the area remains undeveloped, including 290 acres of woodlands, while the other half contains 50 miles of roads and 870 offices, barracks, and other buildings, of which 510 are deemed "historic."
HistoryThe Presidio has been a military base in San Francisco since 1776--first for Spain, then, since 1822, for Mexico, and finally, since 1850, for the U.S. Army. The base was particularly active during World War II, but has not been needed in the past few years. Congress' 1989 military base closure commission slated it to be shut down by 1995.
When the Golden Gate NRA was created in 1972, the law specified that, if ever the Army left the Presidio, it would transfer the land to the Park Service. Between 1991 and 1993, the Army and Park Service spent $80 million arranging the transfer. On October 1, 1994, the transfer was formally made.
ImprovementsThe Park Service plan for the area calls for spending nearly $611 million to remove 300 buildings and rehabilitate the other 580. The agency hopes that nearly two-thirds of these costs will be paid by organizations renting the buildings. Rent paid by the tenants is also expected to cover only part of the costs of maintaining the buildings. Tenants will be limited to organizations deemed compatible with the goals of the Park Service.
Visits, Receipts, and BudgetPark Service management is too recent for recreation statistics, but recreation fees will be negligible. The Park Service has not published estimates of potential rental income, but admits that current market rates will not cover the costs of maintaining, much less rehabilitating, the buildings.
In addition to construction costs, the Park Service expects to spend $25 million per year to support the 175 employees needed to operate the Presidio. Eventually, it hopes to employ 320 people. The agency brags that this saves taxpayers' money from the $45 million per year the Army was spending to operate it, but the Army wasn't asking for $200 to $600 million in construction funds.
In a city where land makes up 80 percent of the cost of a house, the market value of the Presidio's acreage is conservatively estimated to be over $4 billion. Even with protective covenants and half the land turned over to the city parks department, the other half could have been easily sold for several hundred million. This would have saved federal taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars more without significantly reducing the value of the Presidio as open space and a historic site.
WhatRedwood's 75,000 acres of federal land include some of the tallest trees in the world as well as 40 miles of Pacific coastline. Another 35,000 nonfederal acres are contained within park boundaries.
HistoryAs early as 1918, Stephen Mather agreed with California conservationists that the redwoods deserved protection-but not as a national park. Mather contributed and steered donors to Save-the-Redwoods League, which helped save over a half million acres in California state parks.
In the 1960s, Interior Secreatry Udall and Park Service Director Hartzog decided some redwoods should be in a national park. After long and acrimonious debates, a small park was created in 1968 by buying timber company lands, paid for partly with an exchange of national forest lands.
Ten years later the park was greatly expanded to its present size. The expanded area includes thousands of acres of cutover land. The park is by far the most costly in history, costing well over $1.5 billion for the land alone and hundreds of millions more to pay off woods workers and restore cutover watersheds.
ImprovementsThe park contains a visitors center and trails and is traversed by highway 101.
Visits, Receipts, and Budget1993 Total in Thousands (except FTEs) RecFees Budget Visits Hours FTEs $0 $5,194 421 2,817 120 ------ Per visit ------ Per Visitor Hour RecFees Budget Hours RecFees Budget $0 $12.34 7 $0 $1.84Recorded visitation peaked in 1988 at 677,000, but a 47 percent drop in 1989 is probably due to a change in counting methods. A slight increase in budget is expected in 1995.
WhatRocky Mountain's 265,000 acres include spectacular yet highly accessible mountains, lakes, and valleys.
HistoryRocky Mountain was declared a national park in 1915, thanks largely to the work of Enos Mills, a cantankerous man who hated the Forest Service.
ImprovementsThe park is crossed by a major highway, though most people come in and out of the east entrance near Estes Park, as well as campgrounds and visitors centers.
Visits, Receipts, and Budget1993 Total in Thousands (except FTEs) RecFees Budget Visits Hours FTEs $1,474 $6,435 2,780 20,184 195 ------ Per visit ------ Per Visitor Hour RecFees Budget Hours RecFees Budget $0.53 $2.31 7 $0.07 $0.32Visitation has remained almost constant for more than a decade. Nevertheless, the park's 1995 budget may be nearly 15 percent greater than in 1993.
WhatSequoia and Kings Canyon national parks are famous mainly for their giant sequoia groves, which include the eight largest trees in the world. The parks also include Mt. Whitney, the highest peak in the lower 48 states, and many other mountains and valleys. The 402,000-acre Sequoia and 462,000-acre Kings Canyon parks are physically adjacent and are managed by one superintendent.
HistoryThe original Sequoia Park consisted of 162,000 acres set aside in 1890. The very next week Congress created the 2,560-acre General Grant Park that eventually became Kings Canyon. In 1926, Sequoia was enlarged to nearly its present size, while Kings Canyon received its name and current size in 1940.
ImprovementsA highway accesses the largest sequoia trees, passing visitors centers, campgrounds, and lodges. The Park Service wants to remove concession facilities at Giant Forest at a cost of $3.8 million and to spend another $50 million reconstructing roads.
Visits, Receipts, and Budget1993 Total in Thousands (except FTEs) RecFees Budget Visits Hours FTEs $1,990 $8,514 1,703 56,656 252 ------ Per visit ------ Per Visitor Hour RecFees Budget Hours RecFees Budget $1.17 $3.62 33 $0.04 $0.33 Reported visitation peaked in 1986 at 2.2 million, but a 27 percent decline in 1992 is probably due to a change in counting methods. Many visitors are double-counted since most people who go to Kings Canyon also go to Sequoia. Each park claims that visitors average an improbable 33 hours, which means that people who visit both stay 66 hours.
WhatShenandoah is at the opposite end of the Blue Ridge Parkway from Great Smoky Mountains Park and is a combination of both. Linear like the parkway, Shenandoah is traversed by Skyline Drive, which meets the Blue Ridge near Waynesboro. But like Great Smoky, Shenandoah is a full park with 196,000 acres of Appalachian hills and forests.
HistoryAs with Great Smoky, Congress authorized Shenandoah Park in1926 provided that someone else bought the land. The state of Virginia paid for half and the rest was paid by numerous individual contributions.
ImprovementsIn addition to Skyline Drive, the park has campgrounds, visitors centers, and small lodges. The park wants to spend $31 million to reconstruct Skyline Drive.
Visits, Receipts, and Budget1993 Total in Thousands (except FTEs) RecFees Budget Visits Hours FTEs $1,997 $7,058 1,951 21,545 177 ------ Per visit ------ Per Visitor Hour RecFees Budget Hours RecFees Budget $1.02 $3.62 11 $0.09 $0.33Visitation has remained roughly constant for a decade but reached record levels in 1993. The park expects a nearly 20 percent budget increase by 1995.
Steamtown Historic Site
WhatSteamtown presents the history of early twentieth century railroading with a nearly-complete rail yard, 29 steam locomotives, and nearly 80 passenger cars. The Park Service displays the yard and equipment and operates tourist trains.
HistoryIn the late 1950s, when most railroads were abandoning steam for Diesel locomotion, a New England millionaire named Nelson Blount purchased numerous engines that were to be scrapped. He operated several of them at on rails in Vermont and called it "Steamtown." When he died, the city of Scranton, Pennsylvania, bought the locomotives and moved them to an abandoned railroad yard in Scranton.
The city operated excursions for several years but was unable to develop the financing needed to maintain a tourist line. Fortunately for Scranton, its representative in Congress, Joseph McDade, is one of the most powerful members of the House Appropriations Committee. He succeeded in spending $40 million before he ever received approval from Congress to spend any. Then he asked for and received authority to spend $40 million more. The Park Service took Steamtown over from Scranton in 1988.
McDade's free spending was heavily criticized by rail historians, among others, who felt that Scranton was a poor location and Blount's collection was unrepresentative of U.S. railroading. Most of the locomotives Blount collected were Canadian, and few had ever worked near Scranton. Smithsonian transportation curator John White called Steamtown "a second-rate collection in a third-rate location."
Steamtown raises interesting questions about the role of the Park Service. The steam railroad was certainly a major part of American history. Yet that history is well documented and displayed in numerous museums around the nation. Pennsylvania alone had at least 14 other railroad museums, half of them running steam excursions, when the Park Service took over Steamtown.
Outside of Pennsylvania, at least two major railroad museums call themselves "national transportation museums" and house collections that equal or exceed Steamtown's. The states of Pennsylvania, California, and Nevada have each spent millions building state railroad museums. The Park Service itself built two replica steam locomotives, of an admittedly different vintage and context, for Golden Spike Historic Site.
Nationwide, some 300 steam engines operate regular or intermittent rail excursions. Most rail museums and preservation efforts operate on a shoestring, so some resent the millions being poured into Steamtown--even though they recognize that money saved by not running Steamtown wouldn't be spent on other rail preservation activities.
ImprovementsTo date, the Park Service has spent well over $60 million on rehabilitating and improving buildings, track, and rolling stock. This is only the beginning: The park's most recent plan calls for spending another $56 million on the railyard alone.
VisitationSteamtown reported about 100,000 visitors per year after it opened. This increased to 150,000 when it began running longer excursions. However, the number of hours that park officials estimate visitors stay declined from 2 to 1.5.
ReceiptsSteamtown does not charge an entrance fee, but does charge for excursions. In 1993 it collected about $140,000 in excursion fees. Because these are counted as "interpretive program fees" rather than entrance fees, they are all retained to pay for excursion operations.
BudgetSteamtown costs about $3 million to operate, and the Park Service asked for more than $4 million in 1995. That supports about 75 employees. However, the high cost is equal to $16 per visitor or more than $10 per visitor hour.
Visits, Receipts, and Budget1993 Total in Thousands (except FTEs) RecFees Budget Visits Hours FTEs $835 $9,296 9,284 70,407 284 ------ Per visit ------ Per Visitor Hour RecFees Budget Hours RecFees Budget $0.09 $1.00 8 $0.01 $0.13
WhatAs the world's first national park, Yellowstone's thermal features, abundant wildlife, and crystal waters have become the model for all other national parks.
HistoryYellowstone was designated a park in 1872. Its borders overlap the states of Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming because those states didn't exist when the park was created. Although the original park was a rectangle, portions of adjacent national forests were added to it in the late 1920s and early 1930s and the park currently covers more than 2.2 million acres.
ImprovementsYellowstone has several hundred miles of roads and several major hotels and visitor centers. The Park Service says that it needs $227 million to rebuild roads, $60 million to rebuild employee housing, and $30 million to rehabilitate the controversial Fishing Bridge resort area.
Visits, Receipts, and Budget1993 Total in Thousands (except FTEs) RecFees Budget Visits Hours FTEs $3,720 $17,404 2,912 65,168 469 ------ Per visit ------ Per Visitor Hour RecFees Budget Hours RecFees Budget $1.28 $5.98 22 $0.06 $0.27Visitation peaked in 1992 at 3.1 million. Due, perhaps, to a counting change, the number of reported hours per visitor declined from around 35 in the 1980s through 1992 to just 24 in 1993.Yellowstone's budget will exceed $18.5 million in 1995.
WhatYosemite's 761,000 acres contain some of the most spectacular valleys and largest trees in the world.
HistoryYosemite Valley and Mariposa sequoia grove was given to the state of California for a park in 1864. Most of the rest of the park was declared a national park in 1890. The state returned its share to the federal government in 1906.
ImprovementsThe park includes roads and several hotels. The Park Service wants to spend $115 million to remove or redesign facilities in Yosemite Valley, $15 million more to upgrade sewer, water, and electrical systems in various parts of the park, and $41 million more to rebuild park roads.
Visits, Receipts, and Budget1993 Total in Thousands (except FTEs) RecFees Budget Visits Hours FTEs $5,444 $15,430 3,840 104,269 489 ------ Per visit ------ Per Visitor Hour RecFees Budget Hours RecFees Budget $1.42 $4.02 27 $0.05 $0.15Visitation has risen steadily to nearly four million people in 1993. Yosemite's budget may exceed $17 million in 1995 and its staff will be about 510.
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