AUGUSTA — Making a New Year’s resolution to get outdoors more? More hiking, camping, more trips to the beach?

If you’re going to a state park, a pass will cost you 50 percent more in 2017.

On Jan. 1, 2017, an annual park pass will go from $70 to $105.

John Bott of the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry said the state hasn’t raised the fee since 2002 because it was reluctant to do so.

“Then the recession hit,” he said.

The fees were only paying about 50 percent of the costs to run the state parks, Bott said. Maine made up for that with across-the-board price hikes. In 2016, single-entrance park fees were raised, as were camping reservation fees.


The annual park pass increase was put off until 2017.

The adult entrance fee went up about $2 last year. At Popham and Reid state parks, a Maine resident paid $6, up from $4 or $4.50 the year before, respectively. The fee for Range Pond State Park in Poland went from $4.50 for a Maine adult to $6. Sebago Lake went from $4.50 to $6.

Nonresident adult fees at Popham were raised $2, from $6 to $8. Camping reservation fees increased from $2 to $5.

Admission fees for children ages 5 to 11 remained at $1. And children under 5 years of age and residents 65 and older continue to get in free.

Maine park fees tend to be mid-range compared to parks in other states, and remain lower than privately owned parks, Bott said.

Higher costs didn’t faze parkgoers.


When fees went up last year, “we were gearing up for a pushback,” Bott said. There were a couple of letters to the editors, but few complaints, he said.

Meanwhile, attendance numbers shattered records.

“We had a record attendance as we increased our fees, and that was after a strong attendance in 2015,” Bott said. The higher fees last year didn’t dent attendance, he said.

“We were pleasantly surprised,” Bott said.

Attendance for parks and historic sites as of October 2016 were 2.51 million, an 11.3 percent increase from 2015. Campers numbered 254,540, a 3.8 percent jump from 2015.

Combined, both categories represented a 10.5 percent increase from 2015.


The lack of pushback and higher attendance are a testament to the value state parks offer, Bott said.

But the biggest factor in attendance is the weather, Bott said. The drought of 2016 was bad for wells and crops, but it produced a bumper crop of visitors to parks and beaches, Bott said.

It’s not clear how much of a pushback the state will get for raising the annual park pass, but Bott said even at the higher price, “it continues to be a good value.”

The pass allows as many people as a vehicle will hold into the park, up to 17 people,” Bott said. “If you use the pass four times with four people in your car, you’ve paid for it.”

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.