State parks heavily rely on guest fees

Alabama State Parks rely heavily on entrance fees

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Heather Standifer takes her family camping at Alabama’s state parks.

“I think having family time is nice with not a lot of distractions,” Standifer said.

The parks are an attraction for many, especially during the summer. But for the parks to stay open, they rely heavily on entrance and amenity fees.

“It allows them to do a lot. Not just some renovations and physical work but also expand instructional programs that they have," said Brian Jones with the Alabama Tourism Department.

Nearly 90 percent of the state park system’s budget comes from user fees. A sliver of the budget comes from cigarette and sales taxes.

In 2018, the park system generated $36.2 million in sales from park guests.

Depending on the park, the entrance fees range from $2 to $5.

“I feel like the fees are pretty reasonable. Especially for camping I don’t mind, if it helps keep the facilities clean and the park clean. If they were any higher I might not be so happy about it,” Standifer said.

The parks system also said they have been able to budget more money each year since Amendment 2 passed in 2016. The amendment stopped the state legislature from taking state park fees and using it for something else.

With this money, park leaders are able to make necessary updates and improvements.

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