Starting this year, there will be a new way to enjoy the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The new parking tag program will allow visitors to continue enjoying the national park while ensuring the park can continue to operate properly and stay well maintained. Just last year the Great Smoky Mountains National park greeted over 14 million visitors. As numbers continue to increase, the Park It Forward Program is a great way for everyone to experience the best of what the Smokies have to offer.
Everything you need to know about the new Park It Forward Program effective March 1, 2023:
Parking Tag Basics
Whether you are visiting for a day, the weekend, or pretty much consider the Great Smoky Mountains National Park as your second home, there is a parking tag for you.
Beginning March 1, 2023, valid parking tags will be required for each vehicle parked anywhere within the boundaries of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Choose between three different tag options, available for all vehicle sizes and types:
- Daily – $5
- Weekly – $15
- Annual – $40
While the new entrance fees are quite affordable, there are some other things to be noted. Parking tags will be available for purchase online on nps.gov and onsite. Once purchased, parking tags will not be replaceable, refundable, transferable, or upgradeable. Each tag will only be valid for a single vehicle and must include a matching license plate number. Furthermore, you must display physical parking tags in each vehicle. Digital tags will not be accepted. Parking tags will not be location-specific, so you can park wherever you like within the boundaries of the Smokies. Lastly, all motorists who pass through the area or park for less than 15 min will not be required to provide a parking tag.
Why the New Entrance Fee?
Unfortunately, the Smokies’ budget does not increase as the number of visitors increase. Since June 15, 1934, the park has been operating without an entrance fee. In order to balance the Smokies’ budget, managers have had to decrease staffing and reduce visitor services. Now, 100% of the new fees will go entirely into preserving the Smokies and providing visitors with the best possible experience. The Park It Forward Program is crucial to the Smokies’ future.
If I have a parking tag, will I be guaranteed a parking spot?
No, parking tags will not guarantee you a specific parking spot in a specific location or specific time frame.
How will the parking tag requirement be enforced?
Failure to comply with the parking tag requirements may result in a warning, citation, or your vehicle being towed at your expense.
When will my parking tag expire?
Daily and weekly tags expire at 11:59 PM ET on the date printed on the tag. Annual tags expire at 11:59 PM ET on the last day of the expiration month.
Are parking tag fees based on vehicle size or type?
No, the same parking tag options apply to all motor vehicles, including motorcycles, UTSs, RVs, etc.
Can I purchase a daily or weekly tag in advance for a specific date?
Yes. You can specify the date(s) you plan on visiting (daily or weekly) when purchasing online. However, in-person daily or weekly parking tag purchases will be validated on the date of purchase.
Will the Smokies participate in the NPS fee-free days?
Yes, the Smokies will partake in the NPS fee-free days. Visitors will not need to provide parking tags on fee-free days.
Will vehicles displaying a disabled parking placard or license plate be exempt from the parking tag requirement?
Yes. Vehicles with valid, state-issued disabled placards or license plates are exempt from the parking tag requirement.
I drive a motorcycle; how will I display my parking tag?
The annual parking tag is a cling that can be adhered to the motorcycle windshield or other highly visible surfaces. However, daily and weekly tags are paper and will still need to be promptly displayed. Making sure the tag does not blow away or fall off is the responsibility of the visitor.
If you have never been to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, we have to say you are missing out. There’s an ample amount of scenic drives, mountain views, and things to do like kayaking or fly fishing. When you plan your trip to the Smokies’ don’t miss out on these amazing experiences.