Peninsula State Park Fees Increase

Peninsula State Park will increase admission and camping fees in 2018 while camping fees at other state parks in Door County will increase or decrease depending on the season.

Beginning Feb. 15, daily entrance fees at Peninsula will increase $2 and summer weekend camping fees will increase $2 for non-electric sites and $7 for electric sites under the new demand-based pricing system. Annual vehicle stickers and senior citizen admission fees will not change.

State Parks Director Ben Bergey said the new model is an attempt to address crowded parks, including Peninsula, Devil’s Lake and Willow River.

“Oftentimes we have some capacity issues in terms of our day use facilities,” said Bergey. “This helps us start to manage that.”

Bergey said the changes may encourage users to explore other, less popular parks in the system.

Daily admission fees will only increase at Peninsula ($2), Willow River ($2) and Devil’s Lake ($5). Fees will remain unchanged at all other state properties, including the four other state parks in Door County. Across the state, camping fees will increase at 38 properties and decrease at 36 properties depending on the season.

Camping fees will shift throughout the year based on past occupancy rate data. In Door County, some fees will increase while others will decrease.

Rates will decrease mostly in the spring and fall while summer rates will either increase or stay the same.

The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) began exploring the changes when the state eliminated park funding from the general fund in the 2015 budget. Bergey said the parks have had three straight years of record attendance and have an $8 million surplus in the fiscal year ending June 31, 2016.

Bergey expects a $1.1 million increase in revenue under the new model. Any additional revenue will stay within the parks segregated account. Across the country, demand-based pricing models have been implemented with mixed results. The model failed in Texas in the 1990s when park infrastructure fell into disrepair as people were priced out of the parks. New Hampshire still uses the model, but receives money from the state for infrastructure improvements.

Bergey said he does not expect the increases to price people out of Wisconsin’s parks.

“I can get access to all of our state parks for 365 days a year for $28,” said Bergey, referring to the cost of an annual vehicle sticker for Wisconsin residents. “Wisconsin state parks and forests and recreation areas still represent an incredible value for people.”

The 2017-19 state budget authorized $2 million in user fees to be used on infrastructure in the parks, most of which will go toward electrification of campsites at 20 parks, including Peninsula and Potawatomi.

Wisconsin Act 71 also provided $4.5 million in funding for water-related infrastructure in state parks through the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program. A portion of those funds will replace vault toilets and the camper dump station at Peninsula State Park.

Rep. Joel Kitchens said the elimination of general funds for state parks did not appear to hurt that parks in the short term.

“I was certainly skeptical,” Kitchens said. “The state parks have actually been doing really well.”

In 2017, 17.6 million people visited Wisconsin’s parks, forest, recreation areas and state trails, an increase from 17.1 million in 2016.

Bergey and Kitchens noted good weather and low gas prices helped fuel that increase.


Peninsula State Park

  • Electric campsites on summer weekends increase $7
  • Non-electric campsites on summer weekends increase $2
  • Weekday electric and non-electric rates at most sites are unchanged
  • Daily admission fee for Wisconsin residents increases $2 to $10
  • Daily admission fee for non-Wisconsin residents increase $2 to $13

All other parks in Door County will not have any change in daily admission fees. Whitefish Dunes State Park does not have any campsites.

Potawatomi State Park

  • Summer weekend campsites increase $2
  • Some offseason campsites decrease $3

Newport State Park

  • Spring and fall campsites decrease $5
  • Summer campsites remain unchanged at $20

Rock Island State Park

  • Spring and fall campsites decrease $5
  • Summer campsites remain unchanged at $20

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