Outdoors Latest

Parking fees generate $10 million

Mingus Mill. File photo Mingus Mill. File photo

In the first year since Great Smoky Mountains National Park launched the Park it Forward program, the fee has generated over $10 million in revenue, which includes parking tag sales and camping fees.

The park is using this money to improve visitor safety, increase park ranger presence, and repair, enhance and maintain public park facilities. The park's second year of the parking tag program began this month.  

Park users directly contribute to protecting the park when they purchase a $5 daily, $15 weekly, or $40 annual parking tag. The park also increased frontcountry and backcountry camping fees starting in March 2023. One hundred percent of the funds generated by park fees stays in the Smokies.  

The park is using the revenue to improve visitor safety by beefing up its Preventative Search and Rescue (PSAR) team. These seven rangers work to reduce search and rescue missions through visitor preparation, education and information. It is also increasing park ranger presence, improving roads and facilities and rehabilitating attractions such as Mingus Mill.

The $40 annual parking tags are available for purchase online through Smokies Life. The $5 daily and $15 weekly parking tags are available for purchase at recreation.gov or by credit card at more than 30 kiosks located in parking lots across the park. All parking tag types are also available for purchase at Smokies Life store locations. Annual tags are valid for one year from the date of purchase.

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