HomeOutdoorsParksHere’s How to Snag Parking Tags to Get Into Great Smoky Mountains National Park this Spring

Here’s How to Snag Parking Tags to Get Into Great Smoky Mountains National Park this Spring

by Jon D. B.
Park it Forward Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Example of annual parking tag courtesy of GRSM, NPS. (Photo credit: Getty Images Archives)

Starting March 1, visitors to Great Smoky Mountains National Park (GRSM) will be required to purchase and display a valid parking tag. Here’s everything you need to know, straight from park officials.

This spring, GRSM will launch their Park it Forward program. Any vehicle parking for more than 15 minutes inside the national park will need to display a parking tag from March 1, 2023 forward. To help with this transition, the park will begin early sales of annual parking tags this January 17 via online purchase or at any of the park’s visitor centers

So how much will a year’s worth of parking in the Smokies set you back? $40.

Thankfully, any annual tag purchased prior to March 1, 2023 will remain valid through the end of March 2024, too. And if you don’t need an annual pass, Great Smoky Mountains National Park will offer $5 daily parking tags, alongside $15 weekly parking tags. These will go on sale February 21 at 10 a.m. EST at recreation.gov.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park Parking Tag Breakdown:

Any parking over 15 minutes inside GRSM will require a parking pass
starting March 1, 2023.

Annual Pass will cost $40, goes on sale Jan. 17
Daily Parking Passes cost $5, go on sale Feb. 21
Weekly Parking Pass cost $15, go on sale Feb. 21

All parking pass proceeds will go towards supporting the park.
Any annual pass bought before Mar. 2023 will last through Mar. 2024
Park It Forward parking tag example provided by Great Smoky Mountains National Park, NPS.

If this new fee seems worrisome, I am happy to report how beneficial this program will be for the park and Appalachian conservation at large. as GRSM Superintendent Cassius Cash puts it, “Park it Forward is crucial to the future of the park and its resources. Parking tag sales will provide critically needed support to protect and enhance the visitor experience, not just for tomorrow, but for generations to come.”

In short: “Park users will directly contribute to protecting the park when they buy a parking tag. All revenue generated through the Park it Forward program 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 park cites in their media release.

Parking proceeds will also support resource education programs, emergency responders, and law enforcement staff across the park.  

GRSM Parking Tags are Tracked & Non-Transferrable, Do Not Guarantee Parking Spots

As a note for families with different vehicles, please be aware that GRSM parking tags cannot be transferred between vehicles and must include the license plate number matching the vehicle in which it is displayed. 

In addition, parking tags are not a guarantee of available parking. Spots remain limited throughout the park. “Parking will continue to be available on a first-come, first-served basis throughout the park. Visitors are reminded to plan ahead when visiting busy locations like Laurel Falls Trail or Clingmans Dome by considering visiting during off-peak hours, mid-week, and during the cooler months to increase chances of securing a parking spot,” the park cites.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park announced the decision to adopt the Park it Forward parking tag program in August of 2022. Following a robust civic engagement process that included feedback from more than 2,700 people from all 50 states, the world’s most visited national park would adopt the system for 2023 deployment.