|Fun passes: Outdoor experience is relatively inexpensive, at least the parking.|
A state park ranger once explained that if you pay for parking, especially if you buy an annual pass, you are sending a signal to the administrators and politicians that these areas are important and you are willing to make them a priority in your life.
Most of us give money to one charity or another because the cause is somehow significant to us. If our parks and wilderness areas are a source of joy, we should treat the permitting process as a chance to vote with our pocketbook. Generally these passes are quite reasonable if each is used several times.
The notion that the unpaved areas are wild and free and there for the taking is a quaint one, as in 1890s quaint. I live in a large metropolitan area where plenty of people like the great outdoors just as much as I do. Regulation, trash removal, trail maintenance, all cost money. Flowing some greenback love into the programs we cherish is just common sense.
Not pictured above is my favorite pass of all -- the Oregon Sno-park Permit, for winter fun up on Mt. Hood.