horses in Cades Cove

Top 4 Things to Know About the Great Smoky Mountains Parking Pass

Great Smoky Mountains National Park entrance
April 28, 2023

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park has recently instituted a parking tag program where you’ll need a pass to park anywhere within the boundaries of the Smokies, including along Cades Cove Loop Road! These passes can easily be purchased in advance online or in person at the park, then are required to be displayed at all times during your visit. Here are the top 4 things to know about the Great Smoky Mountains parking pass:

1. Parking Pass Rates

The parking pass rates start at $5.00 for a daily pass, or you can purchase a weekly pass for $15. If you plan on making several trips to the Smoky Mountains throughout the year, the best value is the annual pass which is available for $40. Note that the same rates apply for all vehicle sizes and types. All of the revenue generated from the parking pass sales remain in the Smokies to directly support operational costs for managing and improving visitor services, such as trail maintenance, custodial services, trash removal, and supporting more staffing to increase the presence of personnel across the park.

2. Where to Purchase the Pass

Cades Cove Visitor CenterAnother one of the top things to know about the Great Smoky Mountains parking pass is where to purchase the pass. Daily and weekly parking passes are available online through, but just make sure to print and display your pass! If you’re interested in the annual pass and want it shipped right to your door, annual parking passes are available online through the Great Smoky Mountains Association. There are multiple in-person sales locations in and around the National Park too, including all of the official Visitor Center facilities. You’ll also find Automated Fee Machines that take credit cards and are available 24 hours per day (the passes purchased from these machines must be used on the starting date of the purchase).

3. Displaying Your Parking Tag

Daily and weekly parking passes must be placed face-up on the front, lower passenger side dashboard, while annual parking passes have to be displayed in the front, lower passenger side windshield. If you happen to be driving a motorcycle, the annual parking pass is a cling that can be adhered to the motorcycle windshield or other highly-visible surface. The daily and weekly passes are paper but also need to be prominently displayed (one option is to tape the tag to the inside of the motorcycle windshield or instrument display). Daily and weekly parking passes expire at 11:59 PM on the date printed on the tag, while annual passes are valid for 12 months from the month of purchase.

4. When Are Parking Tags Not Required

sunny summer day on cades cove loop roadIf you’re just planning to enjoy a scenic drive along Cades Cove Loop Road and other areas of the National Park, a parking pass is not required as long as you don’t park anywhere for 15 minutes or more! However, you may want to purchase the daily pass just to be on the safe side. After all, once you drive into Cades Cove, you’ll discover many fascinating historical sites and hiking trails to explore!

Now that you have all of this handy information about the Great Smoky Mountains parking pass, you’re all set for a visit to Cades Cove and all of the other amazing destinations in the National Park! If this is your first time to the Smokies, find out why it’s worth driving to Cades Cove!

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