Seashore proposes doubling of campground fees

David Briggs
Marshall Beach was packed with campers over the holiday weekend. Under a proposal released by the Point Reyes National Seashore last week, camping fees on the bay and in campgrounds would double next year—a rate hike the park says will both discourage no-shows and help pay for repairs, improvements to facilities and programs, and enforcement. See the story on page 2.  
09/08/2021

The Point Reyes National Seashore is planning to double its camping fees, marking the first rate increase in more than a decade. The new fees for the park’s four backcountry campgrounds would put the cost of staying overnight in the seashore more in line with nearby state parks or private campgrounds, and would help the park pay for improvements to facilities and programs. “Because our fees are so low right now, we have a lot of no-shows,” park spokeswoman Christine Beekman said. “Our campgrounds are really popular, and so folks get disappointed when they see there are campsites not getting used.” When prices are higher, campers are more likely to show up for their reservations, she said. At Wildcat, Glen, Coast and Sky campgrounds, and all the Tomales Bay boat-in campsites, fees for a standard tent site would rise from $20 to $40 per night. Group sites would increase from $40 to $80, and large group sites would increase from $50 to $100. Under the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act, the park would retain all the fees and be authorized to use them immediately for improvements to visitor facilities. “Among the most urgent would be the replacement of picnic tables at the campsites, particularly at Glen campground,” Ms. Beekman said. “Probably folks can see initials carved in there from their parents or grandparents.” The park also hopes to improve food storage lockers and repair vault toilets at the campgrounds. The funding could also be used for more park ranger presence at the Tomales Bay sites. Last month, the Golden Gate National Recreation Area proposed new fees at various sites in Marin and San Francisco, including a $3-an-hour parking rate at the Stinson Beach lot, which is currently free. The changes are still up for public comment. Earlier in the summer, the regional office accepted the recreation area’s proposed fee hikes at an array of campsites in the Marin Headlands. Yet while other recreational areas in the region boosted their fees, the price of camping in the seashore has hovered at the same level since 2010, when it increased by a third. The park’s new pricing structure brings it into line with local state-run and privately owned facilities. “What we do is we strike a price point that is right in the middle of the pack,” Ms. Beekman said. “Not overcharging, and not undercutting private or public campgrounds with similar amenities. Standard campsite fees at Samuel P. Taylor state park are $35 per night. At the privately owned Olema Campground, closer to the seashore, tent sites go for between $40 and $52 per night, depending on the time of year and day of the week. Gabriela Bell, the general manager at the Olema Campground, said if the park raises the prices, it will likely bring more customers to Olema. “We have showers, we have wi-fi, and we are close to the park too,” she said. Compared to the other campgrounds, the seashore’s sites, which are only accessible by hiking trails or by boat, are relatively small. The Coast campground has 14 sites, the Glen campground has 12 and the Wildcat campground has eight. The Sky campground, which has 12 sites, remains closed due to hazardous trees that burned in last year’s Woodward Fire, but the park expects to reopen it in late fall. The park also gives out 20 permits each night to camp along Tomales Bay. The park is required to take public comments before submitting the proposal to the regional National Park Service office. Comments on the proposal may be made through October at parkplanning.nps.gov. The proposed changes would take effect on Jan. 1, 2022.