GSMNP Announces New Backcountry Camping Policy

Smoky Mountain CampsiteChange is coming for those planning to camp in the backcountry of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park starting in 2013. Reservations and permits for backcountry campsites will now be available 24/7 online. There will also be a new $4 per person fee for each campsite each night.

Previously, all backcountry campsites were free and only some required reservations. However, planning backcountry trips was often a hassle because permits could only be acquired at the backcountry office and service was very limited regarding information on campsites. The new fees will help support better customer service for obtaining backcountry reservations and permits and also improve the overall backcountry camping experience.

Reservations can be made online up to 30 days in advance and users will be able to print their own permits at their convenience. Backcountry office hours will be increased so that reservations can also be made over the phone or in person at the Sugarlands Visitor Center. Additionally, designated backcountry Park Rangers will be able to better enforce wildlife violations and food storage at campsites.

“It is anticipated the online reservation and permit system will be available to the public within the first few months of 2013,” says GSMNP Superintendent Dale Ditmanson.” We will provide notification of a specific implementation date later this year.”

More information regarding the changes can be found at: http://www.nps.gov/grsm/parkmgmt/bc-reservation-permit-faq.htm