Great Smoky Mountains National Park to begin charging for parking, increasing camp fees
This is the first time in the park’s history that it has charged for parking.
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - Those visiting the Great Smoky Mountains National Park will soon need to buy parking passes for their visit, park officials announced Monday.
The park will be adopting the Park it Forward program in March of next year. The program means visitors will need to pay $5 for a daily parking pass, $15 for a weekly parking pass or $40 for an annual parking pass. All revenue from the passes and increased camping fees will go towards park upkeep, officials said.
“Today marks a significant milestone in the history of Great Smoky Mountains National Park and I’m honored to be a part of it,” said Superintendent Cassius Cash. “I have been incredibly encouraged by all the support, from across the country, and especially here in East Tennessee and Western North Carolina, for the opportunity to invest in the future care of this treasured park. We take great pride in being the country’s most visited national park, but that distinction comes with tremendous strain on our infrastructure. Now we will have sustained resources to ensure this sacred place is protected for visitors to enjoy for generations to come.”
The program was originally proposed in April and saw positive feedback, according to park officials. They said that of all the comments, 85% of responders were in support of the move. Here’s how boarding counties responded, according to park officials:
- Blount County: 82% in support
- Sevier County: 73% in support
- Cocke County: 90% in support
- Graham County (NC): 60% in support
- Swain County (NC): 60% in support
- Haywood County (NC): 85% in support
The $40 annual tag will be prioritized for local residents who are more likely to visit the park often, officials said. For that $40, visitors will be able to park all year from when the tag was purchased.
Use of park roads will also remain toll-free, and parking for less than 15 minutes will also be free. Additionally, backcountry camping fees will now be $8 a night and frontcountry camping fees will be $30 a night for primitive sites and $36 a night for sites with electric hookups.
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