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There’s no such thing as a free lunch or a cheap hike at Mount Rainier.

Image: Andrew Waits

In a city where starter homes are a million dollars and breakfast sandwiches cost more than lunch (what is that about?!?), we should've seen this coming: It may soon cost $70 per visit at Mount Rainier National Park and Olympic National Park. 

Yesterday the National Park Service announced that to address improvements to the crumbling infrastructure of the national parks, they're considering raising fees at the 17 most-visited national parks, just for five-month stretches during their busiest seasons (summer, mostly). Right now it costs $25 per car to enter Rainier or Olympic, so it's a whopping 280 percent increase.

Reactions have been mixed—"I'm a big fan of NP but SEVENTY DOLLARS????" wrote one critic on the National Park Service Facebook page—and the bumps wouldn't go into effect until May 1 for Olympic and June 1 for Rainier. A comment period, open through November 23, invites the public to weigh in.

The change would not effect interagency passes (like the America the Beautiful pass for $80), which allow entrance to any national park, national forest site, Bureau of Land Management or U.S. Army Corps of Engineers site. In fact, the change would make the broad annual pass an obvious purchase for anyone visiting more than one major national park per year.

Of course, Rainier and Olympic are not the only parks getting a fee hike; other big-name national parks like Yosemite, Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, and Zion are facing the same fate. A saving grace? North Cascades National Park and Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park remain free as ever.

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