You’ll Have to Pay to Park in Great Smoky Mountains National Park Next Year
Backcountry Camping Fees are Going Up in Price Too!
Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the most visited national park in the US, with more than 14 million people passing through its boundaries each year. Despite that distinction, the National Park Service doesn’t charge an entry fee, as there are numerous roads and highways that pass through the sprawling wilderness. But starting in 2023, the NPS is adding a new fee that travelers need to be aware of before visiting.
New Parking Permits
Starting on March 1, 2023, a valid parking permit will be required for all vehicles that are parked for more than 15 minutes inside the national park. The physical permit should be displayed on the dash or rearview mirror of the car, truck, or RV at all times. Failure to do so could result in a fine.
The parking permit will cost $5 for a single day or $15 for seven days. The Park Service will also offer an annual pass for $40. The parking tags are valid for use with a single vehicle and are nonrefundable or transferable. All permits are good for the designated dates and will be available online and upon arrival. Motorists who are just passing through the area or who park for less than 15 minutes will not need to purchase a parking tag.
A Backcountry Camping Fee Increase
In addition to introducing the new parking fee, the NPS is raising the price for backcountry camping permits. In 2023, the cost of those permits will increase from $4 to $8 per person per night. Visitors can book up to eight days and seven nights at a time, with a maximum fee of $40. As of this writing, there are no announced price increases for RV camping.
The Park Service says the new fees will help cover budget shortfalls. Over the past decade, the national park’s operating budget has remained mostly flat, yet more and more visitors are coming to the Great Smoky Mountains each year. These fees will address a backlog of maintenance issues, upgrade facilities, and hire more staff.
For more information, visit the Great Smoky Mountains official website.