Beginning in mid-April the folks at Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area will again be collecting user fees for some of their facilities.
While an $80 America the Beautiful recreation pass or a $45 annual pass to the Water Gap will gain you entry to this unit of the National Park System, you'll have to pay more to use Smithfield Beach, Bushkill Launch, Dingmans Launch, Milford Beach, Watergate Recreation Site, and the new Turtle Beach in New Jersey. Driving into these areas will cost $7 per day during the week, and $10 on weekends and holidays. And if you bring more than seven people into the NRA in your rig, it'll cost yo an extra dollar per person. If you walk or ride your bike to these areas, you'll be charged $1 per day.
Why the added fee, on top of an annual pass? Because the National Park Service has designated these areas as "expanded amenity" areas, explains Chris Nelson, the fee program manager at the NRA. Those amenities, she explained, are the “paved parking lot, restroom facilities, potable water, life-guarded swim beaches, boat ramps, canoe launches, picnic area.”
"You can access the river anywhere here without the fees. The hiking trails are free, the historic buildings are free," said Ms. Nelson. "The only areas we're charging for are these developed picnic areas, parking areas, and boat launches."
The fees are only charged four or five months of the year, she added, and due to the small size of the NRA, all the revenues are kept there to be used for improving facilities or hiring lifeguards for the summer and maintenance workers to maintain these areas.
Holders of the America the Beautiful Senior Pass, which is a lifetime parks pass for persons age 62 and older, receive a 50 percent discount on the Water Gap's amenity fees, said Ms. Nelson.
The fine print:
The annual pass for the Water Gap is good from the date of purchase through December 31, 2010. A second pass for vehicles registered to the same name at the same address is available at half price ($25.00) with proof of registration. There is a choice between the traditional bumper sticker or a hangtag for your rearview mirror.
Annual passes can be purchased at Park Headquarters in Bushkill, Pennsylvania, the Route 209 Commercial Vehicle Contact Stations in Bushkill and Milford, and the New Jersey District Office in Walpack, New Jersey, Monday through Friday during normal business hours. Annual passes are also available through the mail. Applications and instructions for ordering can be found on line atwww.nps.gov/dewa/planyourvisit/annual-passes-for-this-park.htm.
The America the Beautiful Access Pass is a lifetime passport for persons who are legally blind or permanently disabled. The benefits are the same as for the Senior Passport.
America the Beautiful Senior and Access Passes can be obtained at the park locations listed above.
For further information, contact the Fee Program Manager at 570-426-2434.