Laws & Policies

View from East Rim Overlook

Winter snows blanket the Cumberland Plateau and the Big South Fork River gorge.

Steven Seven

The following listing of basic park regulations covers some of the most common questions visitors to Big South Fork may have.

Natural and Cultural Features

Do not destroy, injure, or remove plants or other natural features. Reasonable quantities (2 gallons berries or one bushel fruits) of edible berries and fruits and nuts may be gathered for personal use daily.

The harassing, injuring, or killing of any wildlife is prohibited. Help wildlife remain wild by never feeding any animal.

Possessing, destroying, injuring, defacing, removing, digging, or otherwise disturbing cultural and archeological resources is prohibited.

Driving in Big South Fork

Speed limits and all other state traffic laws are enforced on roads within Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area.


Pets are allowed within Big South Fork, however, in order to protect your pet and the parks wildlife, all pets must be kept on a leash (no longer then 6 feet) at all times.

During hunting season, a dog that is actively following game does not have to be leashed. However, when entering a designated Safety Zone hunting dogs must be restrained on a leash, crated or caged.


Firearms may only be carried while engaging in hunting activities during appropriate state seasons. While transporting firearms they must be unloaded and rendered temporarily inoperable. Firearms must be unloaded when carried within marked safety zones, and in either front country or backcountry campsites.

As of February 22, 2010, a new federal law allows people who can legally possess firearms under applicable federal, state and local laws, to legally possess firearms in this park.

It is the responsibility of visitors to understand and comply with all applicable state, local and federal firearms laws before entering this park. As a starting point, please visit these state website's:

Kentucky State Police: Concealed Deadly Weapons


Tennessee Handgun Carry Permit Reciprocity

Federal law also prohibits firearms in certain facilities in this park; those places are marked with signs at all public entrances. For further information please follow the link below.

Possession of Firearms and Dangerous Weapons in Federal Facilities.

Food Storage

When camping in a developed area such as a campground, place coolers, grills, cooking utensils, horse feed, any food not in use, and anything with food odors inside the locked compartment of a vehicle or trailer. Keep a clean campsite, wipe off picnic tables, grills, and discard aluminum foil used for cooking. Avoid burning garbage in fire rings because it will leave behind grease and food scrapes.

If camping in the backcountry, use the standard method of hanging your backpacks and food sacks between two tall trees. The packs should be in the center of the two trees in cast the bear tries to climb the tree and reach for the packs. Any food not in use should be stored in this manner while in the backcountry.


We encourage all visitors and campers to separate waste and place it in the appropriate receptacles. Dumping of refuse brought into the park by anyone other than private campers. This requirement is intended to ensure the refuse handled by the park is generated by activities occurring within the park.

Federal Laws

Laws are created by Congress and establish the highest order of legal authority over national parks.

NPS Policies

Service-wide policy for the National Park Service is developed by the Office of Policy with public input and in accordance with applicable laws. Policies dictate many of the overall directions and procedures used by all parks. More...

Park Regulations

The Code of Federal Regulations 36 CFR parts 1-199 and the Park Compendium provide a complete listing of park rules and regulations. These most specific rules are developed with public input to implement applicable law.

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