Fee hikes loom for camping and boating in Washington

By 2025, both camping and boating could become more expensive in Washington state. 

The Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission is considering raising rates to account for rising inflation over the past five years.

Moorage costs for boats have remained unchanged since 2015, while camping fees haven't increased since 2020. According to the Washington State Parks Commission, the consumer price index has jumped 25% since then. Additionally, extra income is needed to address over $400 million worth of deferred repairs at park facilities across the state.

Washington State Parks first introduced fees in 1924, charging car campers just a quarter, which is equivalent to $4 today. 

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Car camping at Mount Rainier National Park in 1922  (Museum of History and Industry)

During peak season, the most basic camping option with no hookups costs $32. The commission is proposing an increase of $5, bringing it to $37.

More coveted campsites in popular locations like Kalaloch, Lake Chelan, Deception Pass, and Colonial in the North Cascades, could see even higher prices. The system will be tiered based on popularity and demand.

"I think we all know that camping is big business for state parks. Next to the Discover Pass sales, it's the second largest source of user fee revenue," said a commission member during discussions in Yakima. 

While camping may be a cash cow, the commission notes that moorage is not. Nevertheless, the cost for boaters is also set to rise. The annual fee for tying up at one of the 40 state-run parks will increase from $60 to $80. 

Proponents of both increases argue that they are reasonable and modest.

A decision on the proposed fee hikes is imminent. Discussions held in Yakima this month indicate that a decision must be made by August.

The cost of a Discover Pass to get into a park will not change. 

More on outdoor recreation around Washington

You can get into National Parks for free on these days this year

Timed entry reservations now open for WA's Mount Rainier National Park

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