Blog for Zip line Attraction in the Smoky Mountains

Located in Pigeon Forge, TN and near Gatlinburg and Sevierville.


Parking Tags Required For National Park

By Ross Bodhi Ogle
Posted on February 7, 2023

Great Smoky Mountains National Park has long been one of the few national parks in the nation that doesn't charge an admission fee. That was actually one of the stipulations attached to one of the early land donations that led to the park's creation. But the days of completely free use of the most visited national park in the country are soon coming to an end. As of March 1, a special tag display will be required for anyone wishing to park their vehicle inside the national park.

The good news is that parking passes won't be needed if you're just planning to drive through the Smokies or if you plan to park somewhere for fewer than 15 minutes. So you can still pull over and enjoy the view from a roadside vantage point, or if you intend to run into a visitor center just to use the restroom facilities, that's OK too. Also, if your plan is to simply drive the Cades Cove Loop Road without stopping for any length of time, no parking tag is needed for that. Finally, drivers who display a handicap tag or license plate are not required to also display a parking tag, and that applies to both the Tennessee and North Carolina sides of the national park.

But let's say you do plan on visiting the park to do some hiking or if you plan to camp for a night or two. Then you'll definitely need a pass. Three options are available: You can purchase an annual tag for $40, a weekly pass for $15 or a daily pass for $5. According to the Great Smoky Mountains Association, the first run of annual tags sold out, and a second run was expected to ship earlier this month.

Here are some other tidbits related to the parking tags that might be helpful to know:

  • Annual parking tags must be displayed in the front, lower, passenger-side windshield. Daily and weekly passes must be placed face-up on the front, lower, passenger-side dashboard.
  • Tags are not replaceable, refundable, transferrable or upgradeable
  • Each tag is only valid for a single vehicle and must include a license plate number matching the vehicle on which it is displayed.
  • Parking tags can be purchased both online and inside the park.
  • Display of the actual physical parking tag is required; digital images will not be accepted.
  • Parking tags are not location-specific.

Park officials have noted that this new tag system, dubbed Park It Forward, has been implemented to generate revenue for operational costs and for managing and improving services to visitors of the park. Due to rising costs and increased visitation, additional revenue is needed to support upkeep of the park and to also regulate the number of visitors entering the park.

If you want to buy an annual tag, you can purchase it online through the Great Smoky Mountains Association. Beginning February 21 at 10:00 a.m., visitors will be able to purchase daily or weekly parking tags online through You must print and display your tag as noted above, and you'll need to enter the date of your visit and license plate number at the time of purchase. You can purchase tags as many as six months in advance of your visit.

In-person sales locations include the Gatlinburg Welcome Center on The Spur as well as park visitor centers at Sugarlands, Townsend, Cades Cove, Clingmans Dome and Oconaluftee. They're also available at the Swain County Visitors Center and the Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont store.

So next you come back to Tennessee to enjoy our Smoky Mountains zipline adventure, consider including a visit to the national park, and be sure you've already made arrangements for your parking pass.


This content posted by Smoky Mountain Ziplines. Visit our home page, for more information on zipline adventures in the Smoky Mountains.

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