Passes available to help seniors and disabled offset costs
By Eugenia Jones
Since the Daniel Boone National Forest (DBNF) increased Forest-wide recreation fee charges in 2022, campers who enjoy a night under the stars in the DBNF will find their camping is a bit more expensive. Locally, the fee increases will be most noticeable to campers who previously were accustomed to no fee camping at Great Meadow campgrounds on Rock Creek and 2 day/annual pass camping at Barren Fork Horse Camp in Whitley City.
Stearns Ranger District Tim Reed acknowledged that fee increases are typically unpopular but noted campers and forest visitors still get a great deal for their money.
“The fees help us keep sites open and maintained properly into the future,” Reed commented. “We understand nobody likes to see prices go up but these rates are a still a great value compared to most recreation opportunities elsewhere and will be key to helping us provide quality recreation opportunities for years to come.”
Six campgrounds throughout the DBNF (which includes the Cumberland, London, Stearns, and Redbird Districts) saw fee increases. In addition to Great Meadow Campground, the Forest added fees at eight other campgrounds that were formerly no fee.
Effective in 2022, DBNF recreational areas and fees located in or adjacent to McCreary County are as follows:
Alpine Picnic Area-free, picnic shelter $25 per day.
Appletree Shooting Range-1 day/$5, 3 days/$7, Annual pass/$50
Barren Fork Horse Camp-1 night/$15 (50% with pass), Picnic Shelter $25 per day
Beaver Creek Wilderness, Bell Farm Horse Camp, and Dry Fork Overlooks-all free
Great Meadow Campground (Raccoon Loop and Deer Loop)-$10 one night, $15 double (50% with pass.)
Hemlock Grove Picnic Area-free, picnic shelter $25.00 per day
Natural Arch Scenic Area-1 day/$5, 3 day/$7, annual/$50 (free with any America the Beautiful pass.) Natural Arch picnic shelters and amphitheater $25 per day.
Noes Boat Ramp and Sawyer Boat Ramp (with toilets from April 1 to November 15) are free.
Discount cards are available and honored by the DBNF for certain individuals. The free Access card is for anyone who has a permanent disability. Issuance of an Access card does require showing documentation of disability. Senior cards are for anyone 62 years of age or older. There is an annual senior pass for $20 or lifetime pass for $80.00. In the Stearns Ranger District, these discount cards permit 50% off per night of camping fees and free entrance to the Natural Arch Day Use area. The cards also permit 50% off on annual forest, 1 day, and 3 day passes when purchased at the Stearns Ranger District Office. While the office is working virtually due to COVID, individuals may call the office to purchase passes.
Additionally, there are America the Beautiful passes, Military Passes (free) for active duty veterans and their dependents or Gold Star family members, and 4th grade passes (free.) In the Stearns Ranger District, these passes permit free entry into Natural Arch. Passes must be displayed in vehicles. Charging recreation fees is a common practice for many national forests across the country. Fees go to support the maintenance and upkeep of recreation sites with standard amenities, like toilets or picnic tables, as well as sites with expanded amenities, like boat ramps. On the Daniel Boone National Forest, recreation fees are collected to support everyday maintenance, improvements, and enhancements to recreation sites as well as grants application matches for larger restoration, and rehabilitation projects.