America’s Most-Visited National Park Introduces A New Fee For Visitors

America’s Most-Visited National Park Introduces A New Fee For Visitors

The most popular national park in America doesn’t charge admission, but starting today, parking will cost money.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which is expected to see 14.1 million visitors in 2021, is boosting camping prices and imposing parking pass fees, the park stated this week.

As parks deal with record-breaking crowds and try to raise money to pay for the staffing and infrastructure needed for this increased visitors, these fees are part of a national trend.

Cassius Cash, the park’s superintendent, said in a statement, “We take great delight in being the country’s most visited national park. “Yet, our infrastructure must withstand great load as a result of that differentiation. Now that we have dependable resources, we can make sure that this holy spot is preserved so that future generations can enjoy it.”

To assist you in planning your upcoming vacation to a national park, the following information about the new fees at Great Smoky Mountains National Park and a few other locations is provided.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park will start requiring the purchase and display of a parking pass on March 1, 2023, as part of its “Park it Forward” fundraising and development initiative.

Parking passes cost $5 for a single day, $15 for a week, and $40 for a whole year. Upgrades or transfers are not permitted, and passes are only valid for one car. Throughout the duration of the paid period, the pass is valid everywhere in the park. The number of passes that can be sold in a single day, week, or season is currently unrestricted.

You won’t need to buy a pass if you’re only traveling through the park or staying for under 15 minutes. You don’t require a pass to attend the visitor center and use the restroom, Cash told the Associated Press. “We’re not trying to nickel and dime every vehicle; we’re trying to capture the expenses of the services provided. You may still pull over at an overlook to take a selfie with the lovely surroundings, and it’s free.

There are no entrance fees to the park, and there are no tolls on any of the numerous beautiful roads that wind through it.

As part of the park’s new Park It Forward initiative, all cars parked in Great Smoky Mountains National Park for more than 15 minutes now require a parking tag.

The national park stated on its website that “100% of revenues collected from these fees stay in the Smokies and go straight back into maintaining the Smokies and ensuring the tourist experience remains first-rate.

If visitors intend to drive to the park that straddles North Carolina and Tennessee, they should be aware of the following.

What is the price of parking in the Great Smoky Mountains?

Regardless of the size of the car, parking permits, which are specific to the license plate, are $5 for daily parking, $15 for seven days, and $40 for annual parking.

Badges must be placed on each vehicle’s front, passenger windscreen and can be purchased both offline and online. They are not upgradeable, non-refundable, or transferable. Interagency passes are not acceptable as replacements.

A parking tag is not necessary for drivers who are merely passing through the area or who park for under 15 minutes. Additionally, there are exclusions for school groups, drivers who display disability parking placards or license plates, those who possess specific special use licenses, and individuals who are engaged in legal study.

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Why Does The Park Require Parking Fees?

For the past ten years, park attendance has increased by almost 60%, but funding has not kept pace, leaving the park with millions of dollars in unmet maintenance costs.

The park stated in a press release that “all revenue generated through the Park it Forward programme will remain in the park to support operational costs for managing and improving visitor services, such as trail maintenance, custodial services, and trash removal”. The initiative will also support extra law enforcement personnel, emergency responders, and resource education programmes throughout the park.

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