Now lets go back to Great Smoky Mountains National Park not charging an entrance fee. I’ll admit from the start that I don’t know the history behind why they don’t charge, but I have heard that it has something to do with John D Rockefeller giving the National Park system a couple million dollars so that the park would always be free to the public. Again, I don’t know how accurate this is, but this is what I have heard. So now lets fast forward multiple decades to present time where you have a National Park system severely underfunded with more and more pressure on the parks due to increased visitation numbers.
And here you have the most popular National Park in the country by visitation numbers (Smoky Mountains NP) not charging an entrance fee. Where is the logic and common sense? Instead of the most popular and subsequently the most profitable park funding the rest of the struggling system, the smokies are siphoning resources from the rest of the system. At eight million visitors a year Smoky Mountains NP dwarfs Yosemite’s four million visitors a year, which is the second most popular National Park by visitors. Eight million visitors a year and the National Park system doesn’t see a dime from entrance fees. True they collect money from campground fees and visitor center souvenir sales, but I doubt that even covers the facility and
Smoky Mountain Rant
It has recently come to my knowledge that Great Smoky Mountains National Park does not charge an entrance fee. While almost every other National Park/Monument and most other National Recreation Areas charge a nominal fee, this grand Eastern park does not. In most of these parks prices may vary, but somewhere around the $25 for a week pass rate is common. Or you can pay the $80 for an annual pass that gets you into every park in the country. This is without a doubt the best deal for entertainment in the world, not to mention unrivaled natural beauty. And this generally under priced fee includes you, your spouse and kids. If you divide that $25 among the average family of four, you get a week of entertainment for less than it cost you all to go to a movie theater for an hour and a half film. Crazy right!?
maintenance cost. By simply driving through the gateway cities of Gatlinburg or Pigeon Forge you can see the hordes of money flowing into these beautiful mountains. And the shame is none of it goes towards the park. John D Rockefeller would be spinning in his grave right now if he knew how his intended good will is actually hurting the park system as a whole.
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Binge drifting is a way of life for us. Since we met in 2008, we have worked seasonally in 10 different states, driven across this amazing country of ours countless times, hiked from Mexico to Canada, bicycled from coast to coast, and traveled the world. We hope you enjoy these tales of our journey chasing adventure!