GATLINBURG, Tenn.—On March 1, Great Smoky Mountains National Park will launch the ‘Park it Forward’ program which requires visitors to buy and display a valid parking tag for any vehicle parking for more than 15 minutes. To make the transition as smooth as possible, the park will offer early sales of annual parking tags starting January 17.
“Park it Forward is crucial to the future of the park and its resources,” said Superintendent Cassius Cash. “Parking tag sales will provide critically needed support to protect and enhance the visitor experience, not just for tomorrow, but for generations to come.”
The $40 annual parking tags will be available for purchase online through Great Smoky Mountains Association or at any of the park’s visitor centers. Annual tags purchased prior to March 1 will be valid through the end of March 2024. The $5 daily and $15 weekly parking tags will become available for purchase February 21 at 10 a.m. EST at recreation.gov.
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 program will also support more resource education programs, emergency responders, and law enforcement staff across the park.
Parking tags cannot be transferred between vehicles and must include the license plate number matching the vehicle in which it is displayed. Obtaining a parking tag will not guarantee a parking spot at a specific location. 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. With more than 800 miles of trails and nearly 400 miles of scenic roadways, there are ample opportunities for recreation across the park each day.
To raise awareness for the Park it Forward parking tag program, Great Smoky Mountains National Park launched a comprehensive campaign that includes public service announcements on radio, television, and social media. The PSAs share important and detailed information about how, where, and why to buy a parking tag. The park also created a Park it Forward communications toolkit for partners and media.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park leadership 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.