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News for July 3, 2022

Great Smoky Mountains National Park to Impose Parking Fees, Increase Campsite Rate

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Great Smoky Mountains National Park will begin charging parking fees and higher campsite, day-use cabin rentals, and picnic pavilions fees starting next year.

According to the park’s release, visits to the park have increased by 57% over the last decade, reaching 14.1 million last year. Additional revenues from the price hike will enable the park to tackle improvements and law enforcement staffing challenges and services, including trail maintenance and trash removal.

The park is seeking public comment until May 7 and is scheduled to hold an online meeting on April 14 to discuss the proposed plans. Comments can be submitted either online or via mail.

“Great Smoky Mountains National Park is at a crossroads,” park Superintendent Cassius Cash said.

“We’re proud to be the most visited National Park, but it does present challenges due to wear and tear on aging facilities and a strain on park resources and employees. Parking tag sales, at a modest fee, would provide critically needed support to protect and enhance the visitor experience not just for tomorrow but for generations to come. We appreciate the public’s input throughout this process,” Cash added.

The proposed fee is $5 per day for parking, $15 for up to seven days, and $40 for the annual tag. The rates were determined by comparing the same access on private and public land.

The typical parking rate in the nearby towns in which parking fees are charged at $15 per day and $68 for a month. In national parks, where visitors pay parking fees, the average cost is $9 per day and $50 per year.

Visitors are required to display a tag on vehicles parked in designated spots within park boundaries. The tag does not guarantee parking at a particular location. Parking will be available on a first-come, first-served basis. Additionally, parking on roadsides will be removed to protect resources, improve traffic flow through congested areas and enhance pedestrian and motorist safety.

Backcountry camping fees would double up to $8 per night in the proposed plan, with a maximum of $40 per person. The park says that charges have not gone up over the past ten years, while site use has risen to over 100,000 camper nights per year.

Frontcountry camping costs would be standard throughout the parks. The nightly fees for family campsites will be $30 for primitive sites and $36 for sites equipped with electric hookups. According to the statement, the nightly charges previously ranged from $17.50 to $25 to $17.50.

Rates for group camps, horse camps, and picnic pavilions would increase up to 30%, depending on size and location. Proposed daily rental rates would be $200 for the Spence Cabin and $300 for the Appalachian Clubhouse. Current rates are higher on the weekend.

This story originally appeared on Daily News-Record.

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Hi, you might find this article from Modern Campground interesting: Great Smoky Mountains National Park to Impose Parking Fees, Increase Campsite Rate! This is the link: https://moderncampground.com/usa/tennessee/great-smoky-mountains-national-park-to-impose-parking-fees-increase-campsite-rate/