A comprehensive application of the travel cost method (TCM) to the estimation of the recreation use values of Dorrigo and Gibraltar Range National Parks is outlined. As well as providing value estimates that are useful for the development of park acquisition and management policy, the application also provides some important lessons for the future use of TCM. So long as some key assumptions relating to the value of travel time and site congestion are shown to hold, then a stream-lined version of the TCM can be used. The questionnaire required to implement the abridged version is brief, thus encouraging a better response rate. Survey and analysis costs are therefore likely to be lower, making the TCM a more cost-effective decision making tool.