Having just visited the Basin for free, we suffered a little sticker shock at the $15/person admission. However, it was a very beautiful place and after you have done all the hilly climbing to read the falls I recommend going ahead and taking the hike at the top. It is not nearly so challenging, it is a nice, beautiful walk. I don't think some people expected just how many hills and steps there would be, some people with canes and limited mobility seemed to be struggling. Even though there is a bus that cuts out some of the hilly hike, there is still a lot of climbing to do.
If you are prepared to do more rugged hiking, the Basin is free and almost as beautiful, but the gorge has some nice features and it is well maintained and more accessible than scrambling on a trail over tree roots. They also have bathrooms, food service, gift shop, etc that is lacking at the Basin area.
If you don't mind the fee and a lot of stairs, this is a beautiful attraction and a lot of people flock to it.
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