Utah state parks to increase prices of annual passes

With rising visitation, parks officials say operation costs have grown.

(Francisco Kjolseth | Tribune file photo) A lone cowboy crests a hill during the 33rd annual Bison Roundup, Saturday, Oct. 26, 2019, on Antelope Island, a state park located near Syracuse in Davis County. Starting Jan. 1, the prices for state park annual passes will rise for the first time in 25 years.

If you want to get out into nature in 2021 by visiting a Utah state park like Antelope Island or Kodachrome Basin, you’ll have to pay a little more for an annual pass.

Regular passes for Utah residents will cost $100 starting Friday, up from $75. And senior passes will rise from $30 to $50. The increase is the first in 25 years.

“Money generated by these fees will be spent on maintaining visitors’ access to the best possible outdoor facilities and experiences,” park officials wrote in a news statement.

Passes for residents of other states rose earlier this year and will remain at $150.

“Over the past several years the Division has reinvested over $42 million back into the parks to add and improve recreational opportunities, infrastructure, and facilities,” according to the statement.

State parks are “committed to carefully controlling our spending while working to ensure the best quality experience for our visitors,” the statement read. “However, operating costs have continued to grow, along with an increase in visitation and use of many state parks.”

State parks visitation levels fluctuated wildly this year, with admissions nosediving during the spring lockdown and then skyrocketing as rules were relaxed while the COVID-19 pandemic wore on.