Daily Archives: September 6, 2016

Why pay a fee to use a National Park?

I read a comment this morning that irked me. I had been reading reviews of different hikes in Shenandoah National Park. A woman wrote (and I paraphrase), “I read about this hike in a magazine. This wasn’t a very long hike. I think it was maybe 2.8 miles. It doesn’t seem like it was worth the $20 dollars to hike it.”  I thought for a moment, “What? That makes no sense!” She wrote the comment in such a way that she felt like she paid $20 to hike Stony Man. If I could have replied to her comment I would have. But the site didn’t offer that option so let me reply here.

Dear Commenter,

You did not pay $20 to hike Stony Man. You paid $20 to enter Shenandoah National Park. It is a very large park covering many acres with numerous trails, hikes, waterfalls, vistas, and overlooks. People work in the park. Rangers look out for your safety. People maintain the trails. And they do not get a lot of funding from the government. So yes, you paid $20 to cover all of those things. I happen to know that when you reach the top of Stony Man you saw beautiful views. Personally, I think those views are worth more than $20.  I’m sorry that you felt that your hike wasn’t worth it. Because it was so short did you drive just a couple miles down the road to Hawksbill and hike that? It is also short. You could have driven even further and hiked Dark Hallows Falls. That’s not very long. In fact, you could do all three of those hikes in 4-5 hours or less and then perhaps you would feel like you’ve gotten your money worth.

I have been to Shenandoah 4 times this summer. Obviously, I need to buy a yearly pass. The thing is – I don’t mind paying. I buy things from the gift shops. I eat at the lodge. I put money into the park because it is a treasure. It is beautiful. I want it protected for a long time to come.  So, please, commenter, the next time you decide to complain about paying $20 for a short hike, perhaps think about what else you spend $20 and what you get out of it… probably not much.

Sincerely,

Hiking Woman