Entrance to Great Smoky Mountains National Park is Free

Skip the entrance fee for this national park - it's free to enter! Campsites, lodging, and some tours still have a fee.
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West entrance sign for Great Smoky Mountains National Park on of Lakeview Drive near Fontana Dam.

West entrance sign for Great Smoky Mountains National Park on of Lakeview Drive near Fontana Dam. 

Skip the entrance fee for this national park - it's free to enter! Campsites, lodging, informational booklets, maps, and some tours still have a fee, so don't totally leave your wallet at home.

Why is this national park free? Back in the 1930's the park was being assembled from privately-owned land and still-active communities. These communities and the states of Tennessee and North Carolina paid for Newfound Gap Road which joins two main entrances of the park. When the area was handed over to the Federal government, there was a stipulation that "no toll or license fee shall ever be imposed…" to travel the road.

Get In for Free at All National Parks

Active military receive free annual parks passes for themselves and their dependents when they show a military ID. Travelers under 16 years of age, as well as those visiting parks for educational or scientific purposes, also receive an entrance waiver. And if you have a permanent disability and show documentation, you get in for free and get a discount on camping. Is there a fourth grader in your family? Visit everykidoutdoors.gov for your free pass.

Don’t fit those categories? Hit your favorite park on a free admission day. There are usually 6-10 free days every year. Check our event calendar for dates.

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Sunset in Cades Cove in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Photo by Lee Coursey via Flickr

Cades Cove in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

This popular valley is known for its abundant wildlife, idyllic scenery, and preserved historic buildings dating back to the late 1800s. Take an auto-tour.

Man walking dog on a forest trail

Can I Bring My Pet to Great Smoky Mountains National Park?

Pets are not allowed on any trails in Great Smoky, except for two - the Gatlinburg Trail and Oconaluftee River Trail.

Entrance sign to Great Smoky Mountains National Park at Gatlinburg

Park Entrances to Great Smoky Mountains National Park

The majority of visitors enter through the Sugarlands entrance on the park’s north side by driving through Gatlinburg, Tennessee.

Map of location of Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North America

Where is Great Smoky Mountains National Park?

Great Smoky is in the eastern part of the United States on the Tennessee-North Carolina border. Gatlinburg, TN is the most popular gateway town.

The Tremont River in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Water Safety in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Water is everywhere in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Although the waterfalls and streams are beautiful, these waters can also be dangerous.

Cades Cove Visitor Information Center.

Visitor Centers in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

There are four main visitor centers in the park: Cades Cove, Clingmans Dome, Oconaluftee, and Sugarlands.

The Mountain Farm Museum at Oconaluftee Valley inside Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Oconaluftee in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

At the main south entrance, tour the Mountain Farm Museum, pioneer buildings, stroll along the Oconaluftee River, and up the road see a historic gristmill.

Overview map of Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Great Smoky Mountains National Park Map PDF

Download the official national park map to see the major park roads, rivers, park visitor centers, and the Appalachian Trail which bisects the park.

Woman hiking next to a cascade in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

What to Pack for a Great Smoky Mountains Park Vacation

How do you pack for the nation’s most visited park? Here are the top 14 items to bring to the park.