Prince William Forest Park is seeing more green. And it’s not just the trees.
On January 1, 2020, park officials hiked the price to enter the park by $5 to $20 per vehicle, from $10 to $15 per motorcycle, and from $7 to $10 per person for anyone walking or biking directly into the park.
It’s the second price hike in a year, as the park on Jan. 1, 2019 increased fees on vehicles and motorcycles entering the park from $10 to $15, and the per-person cost from $7 to $10. At the same time, the price of an annual pass was increased from $30 to $35 where it still remains today.
That equals a 100% increase for vehicles and per-person entries over the past two years. And that’s meant more money for the park it says it uses for maintenance and operations, as 80% of it stays inside the park.
Overall, the park has collected $1.6 million in entrance fees over the past five years. And those amounts have increased from $251,718 in 2015 to $433,807 by the end of 2019, according to park manager Chris Alford — a 72% increase.
The park has averaged about 331,000 visitors per year over the past five years. The five-year high was 360,540 visitors in 2017.
Statement from Alford | Prince William Forest Park is considered a 100% rec fee park. This means that most of the fees collected comes back to the park. There is a small percentage that helps cover the national rec fee program administration. The park must use a minimum of 55% of this for deferred maintenance projects, the park uses more based on the projects each year.
The deferred maintenance cost is about $900,000 annually, said Alford. It costs $120,000 per year to operate the park with staff and supplies, and contracts, he adds.
The entrance fees also go to pay for the park’s annual signature event, the Heritage Festival, covering the cost of exhibitors, musicians, and for allowing no-cost entrance to the park to residents may attend the festival for free.
The festival is held each year in September and celebrates the park’s history as colonial-era farmland, a Civilian Conservation Corps work camp during the 1930s, and a World War II-era spy training camp.
The park is known best for its 16 recreational hiking trails, and a backcountry hike through the Chompawamsic backcountry area, which requires a permit. There’s also cabin camping for groups, as well as a tent campground.