ASHFORD, Wash — Beginning in May, Mount Rainier National Park will transition to a fully cashless system and stop accepting cash for entrance fees and campgrounds.
In a release, the park said it will be fully cashless starting on May 26. Visitors who can only pay with cash will be able to purchase a prepaid pass from local vendors before coming to the park.
The Mount Rainier National Park Annual Pass, private vehicle passes, motorcycle passes, individual passes and backcountry permits may be purchased online at recreation.gov.
Greg Dudgeon, park superintendent for Mount Rainier National Park, said the new cashless system will improve the visitor experience and manage visitor money more effectively.
"Entrance fees are an important source of revenue national parks use to improve the visitor experience,” Dudgeon said. "Going cashless reduces the amount of time park staff spend handling cash, increases the amount of fee revenue available to support critical projects and visitor services and improves accountability while also reducing risk.”
Park Public Information Officer Kevin Bacher said right now 2% of visitors pay with cash for entry. He said they are currently working to partner with local businesses in the towns outside Mount Rainier National Park, so that people paying with cash can buy passes from those vendors before entering. Once they confirm those vendors, they will post a list on their website.
“Somebody who only has cash can just stop at one of the businesses on the way into the park, pick up a pass, and then just breeze on through,” said Bacher. “So, we want to make it as easy as possible for those who only have cash as an option.”
He said they are trying to get the word out to people now and give alternate options for those who only have cash for payment.
“We're definitely concerned about those folks and want to make the parks accessible to them as well, and that's why we're working so hard to get the word out,” said Bacher.
The park said advance campground reservations will still be available through recreation.gov while payments for first-come, first-served campsites will be cashless. Concession-run hotels, bookstores and restaurants inside the park will still accept cash or card payments, the park said in the release.
Park officials said the fees are used for road and facility repairs, maintenance, trail improvements, accessibility improvements, visitor and resource protection services and more.
Olympic National Park already has a cashless park entry system in place.