Before the official chartering of the national park, Tennessee and North Carolina started working on a modern highway to connect the two states. Using money from the state governments and local communities, Newfound Gap Road was constructed. The road stretches from Gatlinburg, Tennessee all the way to Cherokee, North Carolina.
When the Great Smoky Mountains National Park was established, the two states transferred their ownership of Newfound Gap Road to the federal government. North Carolina transferred its land through abandonment, but Tennessee had a different idea. In the deed that signed the rights to Newfound Gap Road over to the federal government, Tennessee included a clause that stated “no toll or license fee shall ever be imposed” to travel the road. This was because the state wanted to ensure that the creation of the national park did not interfere with interstate travel on the road. To this day, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is one of the only national parks with no entrance fee.
To cover all the park’s educational programs, historical preservation efforts and repair work, it accepts donations from a number of nonprofit organizations like Friends of the Smokies and the Great Smoky Mountains Association!