“Park It Forward” Parking Tags Required Starting March 1, 2023
Since its induction as a national park in 1926, entrance into the Great Smoky Mountains National Park has been free. This is just one of the reasons why it is the most visited national park in the nation. While entrance into the park is still free, the GSMNP is implementing a new parking tag policy in 2023. Those planning on visiting the park will need to be aware of this “Park It Forward” policy and the Smoky Mountain parking fees for the GSMNP.
Parking Fees for the Great Smoky Mountains National Park & Details
Whether you’re driving a motorcycle or an RV, the price for a parking tag is the same for all vehicles. Here are the Smoky Mountain parking fees:
- Daily: $5
- Weekly: $15
- Annual: $40
When purchasing your tag, enter your license plate number. Your tag will apply to that specific vehicle and cannot be transferred to any other vehicle. Moreover, the National Park will not replace your parking tag if lost.
Your tag will not guarantee a parking spot anywhere in the GSMNP. Many parking areas, like at the Alum Cave Bluffs Trail or Chimney Tops Trail, become crowded during peak times. The purchase of a parking tag does not guarantee a parking spot; it simply allows the user to legally park within the park’s boundaries.
Each parked vehicle will need to have a tag displayed in the lower passenger side windshield or dashboard. The only exemption is for vehicles with valid, state-issued disabled placards or license plates. The nps.gov website currently states that these vehicles are exempt from the parking tag requirement, however visitors should verify this information before visiting the park.
According to nps.gov, “failure to comply with the parking tag requirements may result in a warning, a citation, or your vehicle being towed at your expense. A variety of staff positions will assist in raising awareness of the program through presence across the park.”
Compliance with the “Park It Forward” program not only ensures that your vehicle is legally parked, but also contributes to the care and preservation of the beloved national park. This program will raise the necessary funds to properly conserve the park for future generations.
For more information, watch this video.
How to Pay your Smoky Mountain Parking Fees
For the convenience of visitors, the GSMNP has created many ways to purchase a parking tag.
Pay Parking Fees Online
Purchase & Ship: Order your tag and have it shipped in advance here.
Purchase & Print: Pay for your tag here and print it yourself.
Select Smoky Mountain Area Welcome & Visitor Centers
Purchase a parking tag in-person at a variety of convenient locations in and around the GSMNP. Find a list of those locations here. These locations, including welcome centers and visitor centers, offer many other benefits beyond the ability to purchase a tag in person.
Each of these locations has something different to offer park visitors. Sugarlands Visitor Center, for example, features a natural history museum, trail maps, on-site park rangers, and clean restrooms. You can look forward to making these stops before a day in the park.
Automated Fee Machines
The park is currently working on installing automated fee machines and will display a list of sites here. These machines will accept credit card payments to pay your Smoky Mountain parking fees, and will be accessible 24 hours per day.
Smoky Mountain Parking Fees inside the GSMNP: Why?
The Smoky Mountain parking fees generated through the “Park It Forward” program will remain in the Smoky Mountains to support operational costs. Government funding for the GSMNP has decreased over the years while the quantity of visitors and operational costs have increased. The program will improve visitor’s experience via trail maintenance, an increase in personnel, and custodial services.
The popularity of the Smoky Mountain area and the GSMNP is ever-growing. With this program, parking tag sales will not be capped, therefore, a reduction in congestion and over-crowding is not anticipated. In fact, the services made possible through the “Park It Forward” program will positively impact visitor’s experience, which in turn should only result in more visitors.
Fortunately, the park spans a half-million acres and boasts 850 miles of hiking trails. The most popular spots will often be crowded, but there are plenty of other opportunities to enjoy the Smoky Mountains. Find a hiking trail, picnic site, or historical structure here.
Planning your Smoky Mountain Vacation
The “Park It Forward” Program is a positive change for the Smoky Mountains, and visitors will find that obtaining a parking tag is easy and the fees associated with it are worth it. As you plan your visit to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, don’t forget to purchase your daily, weekly, or yearly pass.
Planning a visit to Sevierville, Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg, and the Smoky Mountains is fun for the whole family! Visit these websites to plan an epic, adventure-filled vacation. A day in the GSMNP is full of hiking, spectacular views, and tons of adventure. For more Smoky Mountain adventure, visit one of these attractions!
Authored in Appalachia || Amy Morton