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Top image: A line of cars and people stops across a meadow at the Oconaluftee Visitor Center. (Photo by George Rose/Getty Images)

Top image: A line of cars and people stops across a meadow at the Oconaluftee Visitor Center.  (Photo by George Rose/Getty Images)

By Forrest Brown, CNN

You can still drive through it Great Smoky Mountains National Park free, but if you park your vehicle for 15 minutes or more, you will have to cough up some cash from March 2023.

The park in North Carolina and Tennessee announced the new fee on Monday, and it will take effect March 1.

The most visited national park in the United States – 14.16 million people came in 2021 – will also increase its camping fees.

“Parking tags must be displayed on any motor vehicle parked within the park boundary,” the park said in a press release.

The rates will be:

• $5 for a daily parking tag
• $15 for a parking ticket for up to seven days
• $40 for an annual parking pass

The money raised from the “Park it Forward” program will be used to maintain the park’s roads, trails and structures, the release said.

‘Secure for visitors’

“We are proud to be the most visited national park in the country, but that distinction puts a huge strain on our infrastructure,” Chief Inspector Cassius Cash said. “Now we will have sustainable resources to ensure this sacred site is protected for visitors to enjoy for generations.”

All park roads will remain toll-free, and the parking tags are not required for motorists driving through the area or parking their vehicles for less than 15 minutes, the park said.

The tags do not guarantee parking in a specific place. Parking will still be on a first come, first served basis.

camping fees

Camping costs are also going up.

For example, the backcountry camping rate is $8 per person per night (for up to eight days and seven nights with a maximum rate of $40). Currently, the fee is $4 per person per night with a maximum of $20. click here for more information about other types of camping rates.

National parks across the country — especially the big names — add or increase costs and require reservations to accommodate all visitors. Some examples of fees and reservations:

Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks in California are proposing a rate increase at 14 campgrounds nationwide.

Indiana Dunes National Parkwhich was once free, started charging entrance fees on March 31 this year.

Pecos . National Historic Park in New Mexico has a reservation system for the 2022 fall fishing season that begins September 8 and ends November 14. There is also a $15 charge for that.

The-CNN-Wire
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Top image: A line of cars and people stops across a meadow at the Oconaluftee Visitor Center. (Photo by George Rose/Getty Images)