A new fee is coming to the most visited national park next year

Forrest Brown, CNNPublished 18th August 2022
CHEROKEE, NC - OCTOBER 22:  A line of cars and people pull over to view Manitoba elk grazing in a meadow at the Oconaluftee Visitor Center on October 22, 2016 near Cherokee, North Carolina. Visited by more than 9 million people each year, the Great Smoky Mountains are a range rising along the Tennessee/North Carolina border in the southeastern United States, and are part of the Appalachian and Blue Ridge Mountains. (Photo by George Rose/Getty Images)
(CNN) — You'll still be able drive through Great Smoky Mountains National Park for free, but if you park your vehicle for 15 minutes or more, you're going to need to cough up a little money starting in March 2023.
The park in North Carolina and Tennessee announced the new fee on Monday, and it goes into 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 will be required to be displayed on any motor vehicle parked within the park boundary," the park said in a news release.
The rates will be:
• $5 for a daily parking tag
• $15 for a parking tag for up to seven days
• $40 for an annual parking tag
Money collected from the "Park it Forward" program will be used to maintain the park's roads, trails and structures, the release said.

'Protected for visitors'

"We take great pride in being the country's most visited national park, but that distinction comes with tremendous strain on our infrastructure," said Superintendent Cassius Cash. "Now we will have sustained resources to ensure this sacred place is protected for visitors to enjoy for generations to come."
All park roads will remain toll free, and the parking tags will not be required for motorists who pass through the area or who park their vehicles for less than 15 minutes, the park said.
The tags will not guarantee a parking spot at a specific place. Parking will still be on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Camping fees

Camping fees are going up as well.
For instance, the backcountry camping fee will be $8 per person per night (for up to eight days and seven nights with a $40 maximum fee). Currently, the fee is $4 per person per night with a $20 maximum. Click here for more information on other types of camping fees.
National parks across the country -- especially the big names -- are adding or increasing fees and requiring reservations to deal with all the visitors. Some examples of fees and reservations:
Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks in California are proposing a fee increase at 14 country campgrounds.
Indiana Dunes National Park, which was once free, starting charging an entry fee on March 31 of this year.
Pecos National Historical Park in New Mexico has a reservation system for its 2022 fall fishing season that begins September 8 and ends November 14. There's also a $15 charge for that.