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