Facts & FAQ on the Recreation Fee Proposal

We have received many comments about the recent recreation fee proposal.

The following information provides clarification on factors about the fee proposal that may have been confusing.  Frequently asked questions (FAQ) has also been added.

Still have a question or want to submit a comment, go to How to Submit Comments.


Fee Proposal limited to 6 recreation sites and 1 campground

The day-use fee and annual pass only apply to these six recreation sites.  All other parts of the forest are still available for daytime recreating for free.   

  • Garden of the Gods Observation Trail
  • Pounds Hollow Beach
  • Johnson Creek Boat Launch
  • Pomona Boat Launch
  • Bell Smith Springs Interpretive Site
  • Little Grand Canyon Trailhead

Pine Ridge Campground (Pounds Hollow Recreation Area)

  • Pine Ridge campground with an increased fee of its electric sites only.
  • Five Forest Service campgrounds will continue to have a fee for overnight use.
  • General Forest area primitive camping outside of the campgrounds (in accordance with forest rules) will continue to be no charge (free). 

Is the fee proposal per car or per person?

The fee is proposed to be $5 per vehicle, not per person.  A vehicle with one visitor = $5.  A vehicle carrying six visitors = $5.

Interagency Federal Pass Program

Federal land management agencies (National Park Service, Forest Service, Fish & Wildlife Service, etc.) sell the Interagency Pass. Under the new proposed fee changes these passes will be honored at Shawnee National Forest day-use fee sites in place of the new Forest day-use fee.

Owners of an America the Beautiful Interagency Pass (see list below) will simply display their America the Beautiful Interagency Pass in their vehicle's dashboard, and no further site fee payment is required.

  • Annual Pass
  • Military Pass
  • Senior Pass – Annual or Lifetime
  • Access Pass
  • Volunteer Pass
  • Every Kid in a Park 4th Grade Pass

If interested in obtaining an America the Beautiful Interagency Pass please contact your nearest Shawnee National Forest office or obtain one online at recreation.gov.

Please Note: Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge entrance passes Do Not qualify.

Factors of Implementation

Day-Use Site Fees

There will not be employees staffing an entry gate or pay station at the new fee sites.  The Shawnee will utilize a self-pay, fee-tube system similar to that used in our campgrounds and on many other national forests. Upon arrival at a fee site's parking area, Forest visitors will see a sign that identifies the site as having a fee and explains the payment process.  There will be envelopes at the sign – visitors will fill out necessary information, place cash or check into the envelope, tear off the “receipt” tab, place envelope in the secure fee-tube, and lastly place the receipt tab on the vehicle's dashboard so that its visible through the windshield.  Forest technicians will be checking vehicles for fee receipts as a part of their regular work to recreation sites.

Shawnee Annual Pass

The proposed $30 Shawnee annual pass will be available for purchase from Shawnee National Forest Offices – and possibly other venues, still to be determined.  Forest visitors will place the pass on the dashboard (or hang from the rearview mirror) when parked at one of the day-use fee sites and no further payment is necessary.