Smoky Mountains seeks parking charges, campsite fee will increase | Life

GATLINBURG, Tenn. (AP) — Great Smoky Mountains National Park introduced a plan Wednesday to begin charging parking charges together with larger charges for campsites, day-use cabin leases and picnic pavilions beginning subsequent 12 months.

Visits to the park have elevated 57% over the previous decade to a document 14.1 million final 12 months and have taken a toll on services, the park mentioned in a information launch. Additional income from the adjustments would permit the park to handle renovations together with legislation enforcement staffing challenges and companies together with path upkeep and trash removing.

The park is searching for public remark by way of May 7 and has scheduled a digital public assembly on April 14 to debate the proposals. Comments may be submitted on-line or by mail.

“Great Smoky Mountains National Park is at a crossroads,” park Superintendent Cassius Cash mentioned within the assertion. “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.”

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The proposal contains $5 for day by day parking, $15 for as much as seven days and $40 for an annual tag. The charges have been decided by evaluating related entry on non-public and public lands, the assertion mentioned. The common parking fee in close by cities the place parking charges are charged is $15 per day and $68 per 30 days. In nationwide parks the place guests are charged for parking, the common fee is $9 per day and $50 per 12 months.

Visitors can be required to show a tag on automobiles parked in designated spots inside park boundaries. The tag wouldn’t assure a parking spot at a selected location. Parking would proceed to be out there on a first-come, first-served foundation. In addition, roadside parking can be eradicated to assist shield assets, help visitors circulate by way of congested areas and enhance motorist and pedestrian security.

Noting that it doesn’t cost an entrance price, the park mentioned parking tags wouldn’t be required for motorists who’re on scenic drives by way of the park or use park roads as a commuter route. Pedestrians and cyclists wouldn’t be required to buy parking tags.

Backcountry tenting charges would double to $8 per evening beneath the proposal, with a most of $40 per camper. The park mentioned such charges haven’t elevated in 10 years whereas web site use has risen to greater than 100,000 camper nights per 12 months.

Frontcountry tenting charges can be standardized throughout the park. Nightly household campsite charges can be $30 for primitive websites and $36 for websites with electrical hookups. The nightly charges beforehand ranged from $17.50 to $25, the assertion mentioned.

Rates for group camps, horse camps and picnic pavilions would enhance as much as 30%, relying on measurement and site. Proposed day by day rental charges can be $200 for the Spence Cabin and $300 for the Appalachian Clubhouse. Current charges are larger on the weekend.

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