Coronado National Forest Fee Proposal

The forest is proposing changes to its developed recreation fees

Type of Fee

Current Price

Proposed Price

Day Use

$5 per day

$8 per day


$10 per night

Two Tier  some $15 others $20

Group Sites


$50, plus $10 per vehicle

Coronado Annual Pass

$20 per year

$40 per year

Coronado Weekly Pass

$10 per week

$10 per week

Number of sites


98 (20 new)


*Fees would only be changed at campgrounds operated by the CNF.  No changes are proposed at campgrounds operated by private companies (concessionaires).  

New Fee Sites

Here are the sites proposed to add to the fee program:

Day Use Sites:

  • Bigelow Trailhead
  • Brown Canyon Ranch
  • Butterfly Trailhead
  • Carr Canyon Picnic Area
  • Parker Canyon Lake Fishing and Boating Site (and nature trail)
  • Pena Blanca Lake Fishing and Boating Site
  • Red Rock Picnic Area
  • Riggs Lake Fishing and Boating Site
  • Upper and Lower Thumb Rock Picnic Area
  • Whipple Picnic Area and Trailhead

Campgrounds: Herb Martyr, Stockton Pass, Sycamore, Noon Creek

Group Sites: Columbine Visitor Center Ramada, Gordon Hirabayashi Horse Camp, Stockton Pass, Treasure Park, Twilight, Upper Arcadia

Market Comparisons

The proposed CNF fees are similar to fees charged at other nearby recreation areas.  Here are some examples:

Day Use Sites

Saguaro National Park

$15 (1-7 days)

Tonto National Forest

$8 per day

Catalina State Park

$7 per day


CNF Campgrounds operated by private companies

$22 per night

Picacho Peak State Park

$20 per night

Catalina State Park

$25 per night


We listened to your input…

Beginning October 2016, the forest sought public input about Restructuring Developed recreation, including the fee program. We heard:

  • 85% support a fee increase to market levels
  • 11% support a reduction in facilities or amenities
  • 15% support the increased use of concessionaires

Why a fee change?

  • To continue maintaining and providing amenities and services important to forest visitors
  • To preserve capital investments
  • To protect resources through limiting the impacts of recreation
  • To increase fee consistency across the forest

To learn more about this fee proposal, view the full media release

What do you think of the proposed fees and new fee sites?  Submit a comment via email to, or write a letter to the Coronado National Forest, 300 W Congress, Tucson, AZ 85701.

Next Steps

  • The fee proposal has been published with a Federal Register Notice (FRN)..
  • The changes approved by the RRAC would be implemented in Winter or 2019.

Continue reading below to learn more about the Restructuring Developed Recreation initiative on the Coronado National Forest.

The Coronado National Forest (CNF) is restructuring its Developed Recreation Program!

  • Learn about potential changes to the Developed Recreation Program
  • Make comments on potential changes to the program
  • View upcoming events, meetings, and opportunities to join the conversation about recreation on the CNF

The Hard Reality

Total Revenues: $1,350,000 per yearCosts to operate, maintain, and replace developed recreation facilities exceed current and projected revenue.  Revenue to manage developed recreation includes both federal budget allocations and fees, which represent about 50% of the allocated budget for the developed recreation program.

Your ideas are needed to help us restructure developed recreation to bring expenditures and revenues into balance now and into the future.  It is likely that federal budget allocations for managing developed recreation will continue a downward trend into the foreseeable future. 

To reduce developed recreation costs, we have streamlined our workforce, removed infrastructure, and installed lower-maintenance facilities.  In addition, we are working to increase visitation, strengthen partnerships, and improve fee compliance.  These actions help, but they are not enough.

The Gap

There is a gap of $2,500,000 annually.The estimated price tag needed to ensure that the CNF’s 204 developed recreation sites remain open, safe, clean, and in good repair is $3.8 million.  The combined revenue currently received to manage these sites is $1.3 million, leaving a gap of $2.5 million annually.  Without action to close the gap, developed recreation facilities and recreation opportunities are threatened.

The Cost of Developed Recreation

Restroom replacement at Upper Thumb Picnic AreaDeveloped recreation sites are generally described as campgrounds, group sites, lake facilities, picnic areas, and trailheads.  These sites include amenities such as a drinking water systems, furnishings (fire rings, tables, food storage lockers, grills, benches, lantern posts, etc.) garbage bins, roads and parking, restrooms, signs, and more.

Identifying the costs associated with operating, maintaining, and replacing developed recreation facilities is important in understanding how appropriated funds and fee dollars are invested to support public recreation.  These costs vary from site to site and we have provided five representative examples.

Most of the CNF (99.9%) is undeveloped and offers dispersed recreation opportunities such as hiking, off-highway vehicle riding, scenic driving, dispersed camping, and bird watching at no cost to users.

Strategies to Restructure Developed Recreation

Showers Point accessible sidewalk construction

A. Eliminate developed recreation sites
B. Transfer management of developed recreation sites to concessionaires or partners
C. Increase fees
D. Increase the number of fee sites

No single strategy will close the gap. Likely, a combination of strategies will align the CNF more closely with sustainability goals.