What You Need to Know About Park it Forward
Do you have to pay to park in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park? Yes. Due to a nearly 60% increase in park visitation since 2011, on March 1, 2023 the National Park Service began collecting parking fees. Those who want to enjoy the many outdoor activities in the national park will now have to display a parking tag on their dash. The fee is part of the Park it Forward Program and all proceeds go back into the upkeep of the park. Here are the basics per the National Park Service:
Three parking tag durations are available for purchase for all vehicle sizes and types:
Daily Fee- $5; Weekly Fee- $15; Annual Fee – $40
- Parking tags are not replaceable, refundable, transferable, or upgradable.
- Each tag is valid for a single vehicle and must include a license plate number matching the vehicle in which it is displayed.
- Parking tags are available for purchase both online and onsite.
- Display of physical parking tags in each vehicle is required. Digital representations are not accepted.
- Parking tags are not location-specific. A parking tag is required to park anywhere within the boundaries of the Smokies.
- Parking tags are not required for motorists who pass through the area or who park for less than 15 minutes.
- Interagency passes (senior, access, etc.) are not accepted in lieu of a parking tag.
Places to in-person purchase parking tags near the Nantahala River:
- Swain County Visitor Center – 2 Everett Street, Bryson City, NC 28713
- Oconaluftee Visitor Center – 1194 Newfound Gap Highway, Cherokee, NC 28719
- Automated Fee Machines
- See NPS for a full list of places to purchase parking tags
Places to purchase parking tags Online:
- Annual Parking Tags (purchase and ship)
- Recreation.gov Visitors MUST print and display their parking tag. Park staff will not print the tag for you.
Annual parking tags must be displayed in the front, lower passenger side windshield. Daily and weekly parking tags must be placed face-up on the front, lower passenger side dashboard. Refer to image below per NPS.
Photo left: Annual Parking Tag; Photo right: Daily & Weekly Parking Tag
Please visit the National Park Service Website for complete information and FAQ. We at Carolina Outfitters want you to be informed and have an awesome white water rafting adventure on the Nantahala River in our beautiful Great Smoky Mountains National Park!