Did you know that the Smokies hosted over 14 million visitors last year, making it THE most visited national park in the US?
Unlike most other national parks, GSMNP doesn’t require an entrance fee. While this integral part of the park isn’t changing, there are some exciting things coming.
The national park is rolling out $40 parking passes for visitors. The passes are good for a year and will begin dispersal on March 1st, 2023. Preorders for the public opened on January 17th, meaning they’re now available for purchase.
If you’re just a visitor to the area and don’t want to pay for a year-long pass, don’t worry, there are options for you too. Cheaper options–$5 for daily parking and $15 for weekly– begin in late February.
The program will require a valid tag to be displayed when parking a vehicle for more than fifteen minutes.
Here’s where the exciting part comes in. Proceeds from the ‘Park it Forward’ program directly contribute to the park. Superintendent Cassius Cash said, “[This program] is crucial to the future of the park and its resources. Parking tag sales will provide critically needed support to protect and enhance the visitor experience, not just for tomorrow, but for generations to come.”
Everyone who purchases a pass directly helps the beloved Smoky Mountains through their contribution. All the revenue collected via the program will remain in the park and help keep the park clean, beautiful, and a wonderful place for all to enjoy.
Why help? Over the last few years, federal funding for national parks has all but stagnated. Despite the visitation numbers for GSMNP going up, they aren’t generating enough revenue to keep the park alive, which is where your help comes in.
The Smokies are an integral part of East Tennessee culture and are the defining landmark to what many deem as ‘home’. They are the background of countless family photos, framed on the walls of living rooms and restaurants, and house many irreplaceable memories.
‘Park it Forward’ and help save our park.