Backcountry Office & Permit System Restructuring
Great Smoky Mountains National Park will implement changes to its current backcountry reservation and permitting process early next year. The National Park Service approved the park's proposal to begin collecting fees for use of the park's backcountry campsites and shelters. The changes include a $4 per person per night fee for backcountry camping. The fee will be used to provide increased customer service for backcountry trip planning, reservations, permits and the backcountry experience.
A park-specific reservation and permit system, to which users will have 24/7 access, will allow backcountry campers to make reservations and obtain permits online from anywhere internet access is available. Reservations may be made at any time up to 30 days in advance, allowing maximum flexibility for those making last minute plans. Backcountry users will no longer be required to call the Backcountry Office to obtain reservations. Reservation and permit requests will also be accepted in person at the Backcountry Office, which is located at the Sugarlands Visitor Center.
Backcountry Office hours will be expanded with additional staff available to provide trip planning assistance both over the phone and in person. In addition, Park Rangers assigned exclusively to the backcountry will provide enhanced enforcement for issues such as wildlife violations and food storage.
Did You Know?
Approximately 1,500 black bears live in the park. This equals a population density of approximately two bears per square mile. Bears can be found throughout the park, but are easiest to spot in open areas such as Cades Cove and Cataloochee Valley.