HARLINGEN — Padre Island National Seashore is raising the cost of entry and user fees for the first time in 20 years effective June 1.
The popular camping, fishing and beachcombing site near Corpus Christi is part of the national parks system and consists of 130,434 acres. Its 70 miles of beaches is the longest undeveloped stretch of barrier island in the world.
“If they can come out this weekend, or even this week, the prices will be a better bargain,” said William Botts, education coordinator for the national seashore.
“A lot of people have commented that it’s a big price hike,” he added. “Even though it was nice to pay less for along time, it’s hitting people where it hurts — in the wallet.”
Until the end of the month, anyone purchasing an annual pass can receive one and pay just $20 compared to $40. A year’s access to the Bird Island Basin boat ramp will cost $30 after June 1 but can be purchased now for just $10.
Both will be valid for one year from the month of purchase.
National Park Service officials have said previously the Trump administration has tasked them with being more self-sufficient when it comes to funding, hence the search for additional revenues at the Padre Island seashore and elsewhere. Park service officials say they were given similar instructions by the Obama administration.
Park officials say 80 percent of the park fees collected by the national seashore stay within the facility and are targeted toward improving the visitor experience. The other 20 percent goes to improvements for visitors at national parks that don’t collect entrance fees, like San Antonio Missions National Historical Park and Palo Alto Battlefield National Historical Park in Brownsville.
Botts said most people understand the reasons for the fee increases and have been supportive. He said what the Padre Island National Seashore has to offer still makes it “a very good bargain, no doubt about it,” and explains the wide area from which the park draws visitors.
“There are definitely a lot of people who come up from the Valley,” he said. “I’ve always been surprised with South Padre there, but South Padre is a very different experience.”
Padre Island National Seashore raising fees
Single Vehicle (1-Day Pass, new option) – $10
Single Vehicle (7-Day Pass) – Increases from $10 to $20
Annual Pass – Increases from $20 to $40
Individual (7-Day Pass) – Increases from $5 to $10
Motorcycle (7-Day Pass) – Increases from $5 to $15
Boat Launch Ramp Fees
Daily Boat Ramp – Remains $5
Annual Boat Ramp – Increases from $10 to $30
Malaquite Campground (1-6 people) – Increases from $8 to $14
Bird Island Basin Campground (1-6 people) – Increases from $5 to $8
Note: New fees effective June 1