Vicksburg National Military Park going to cashless entry fee system

Published 3:05 pm Thursday, September 23, 2021

The Vicksburg National Military Park is going digital.

Beginning Oct. 3, the park will sell digital entrance passes through the Recreation.gov app as part of the first phase of the park’s cashless fee system program. The app allows visitors to purchase a park entrance pass or annual passes online before their visit or upon arrival at the park.  

“Recreation.gov will provide park visitors more flexibility to purchase passes when it’s convenient to them,” said Carrie Mardorf, acting park superintendent. “Going cashless will help limit wait time for visitors upon entry and enhance stewardship of park funds.”  

Mardorf said visitors can pay the fee using the app on their smartphone or by going online to www.recreation.gov. If they have problems with the app or the online service, she said, visitors can go to the park’s visitor center for help.

According to information from the park, the cashless operation will refocus accountability, address safety concerns and streamline the fee collection process for visitors and staff. 

The park’s announcement complements a new standardized point of sale system implemented nationwide this summer by the National Park Service to provide advanced reporting capabilities, automated monitoring and notification, helping to track and target inconsistencies in fee collection more quickly than traditional systems.  

 Visitors can purchase Vicksburg National Military Park passes online at www.recreation.gov or through the Recreation.gov app. This platform employs an online system used by the National Park Service and other federal agencies to allow visitors to purchase entrance passes and make camping reservations online.  

Visitors purchasing from Recreation.gov will have a digital pass they can store on a mobile device or print out. Digital passes are connected to the user’s license plate number. Staff will scan for either a printout in the windshield or license plate numbers associated with a current digital pass in Recreation.gov. 

Mardorf said visitors with senior, military or other passes will have them scanned by park employees.

“This is phase one of a two-part rollout,” Mardorf said. “Phase one is the Recreation.gov, the application and the smartphone app. Phase two is putting our people back into the fee booth and they will be able to accept the senior passes and military passes and other types of passes.”

The implementation of Recreation.gov is the first step in resuming fee collections at Vicksburg National Military Park following a pause on fee collections the park implemented in 2020.

The park is completing the revision of its fee program by introducing the cashless system at staffed entrance stations. Until then, passes will only be available through Recreation.gov. As a cashless operation, the park will accept only credit, debit cards, or contactless payment such as Apple Pay or Google Pay.

 “We’re ready,” Mardorf said. “We’re basically ready for the rollout date and we’re excited to have the community back in the park and getting a little bit of revenue.”

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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