Superintendent's Compendium



1. Superintendent’s Compendium Described

The Superintendent’s Compendium is the summary of park specific rules implemented under 36 Code of Federal Regulations (36 CFR). It serves as public notice, identifies areas closed for public use, provides a list of activities requiring either a special use permit or reservation, and elaborates on public use and resource protection regulations pertaining specifically to the administration of the park. The Superintendent’s Compendium does not repeat regulations found in 36 CFR and other United States Code and CFR Titles, which are enforced without further elaboration at the park level.

The regulations contained in 36 CFR, Parts 1-7, are the basic mechanism used by the National Park Service (NPS) to preserve and protect the natural and cultural resources of the park and to protect visitors and property within the park. Parts 1 through 6 are general regulations applicable to all areas of the National Park system, and Part 7 contains special regulations specific to individual parks. Each of these Parts has many sections and subsections articulating specific provisions. Within some of these Part 1-7 sections and subsections, the Superintendent is granted discretionary authority to develop local rules to be responsive to the needs of a specific park resource or activity, park plan, program, and/or special needs of the general public.

As an example, 36 CFR 1.5(a) Closures and Public Use Limits provides the Superintendent certain discretion in allowing or disallowing certain activities. The authority granted by the Section, however, requires the Superintendent to comply with the Administrative Procedures Act (6 USC Section 551), which requires public notice on actions with major impact on visitor use patterns, park resources or those that are highly controversial in nature.

Another example is 36 CFR 1.6 Permits, which allows the Superintendent to require a permit for certain uses and activities in the park. This Section, however, requires that a list of activities needing a permit (and a fee schedule for the various types of permits) be maintained by the park.

A final example is 36 CFR 2.1(c) (1) Preservation of Natural, Cultural and Archeological Resources, which provides the Superintendent the authority to designate certain fruits, nuts, berries or unoccupied seashells which may be gathered by hand for personal use or consumption. This activity can occur, however, only if a written determination shows that the allowed activity does not adversely affect park wildlife, the reproductive potential of a plant species, or otherwise adversely affect park resources.

This Compendium should be used in conjunction with Title 36 CFR, Parts 1-7, to more fully understand the regulations governing the use and enjoyment of all the areas of the National Park System.

A copy of Title 36, CFR, can be purchased from the U.S. Government Printing Office at:

Superintendent of Documents
P.O. Box 371954
Pittsburgh, PA 15250-7954

The CFR is also available on the Internet HERE.

2. Laws and Policies Allowing the Superintendent to Develop This Compendium

The National Park Service (NPS) is granted broad statutory authority under 54 United States Code (U.S.C.) §102701 (Organic Act of 1916, as amended) to:

…regulate the use of the Federal areas known as national parks, monuments, and reservations…by such means and measures as conform to the fundamental purposes of the said parks…which purpose is to conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wildlife therein and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment for future generations (54 U.S.C. §100101).

In addition, the NPS Organic Act allows the NPS, through the Secretary of the Interior, to;

make and publish such rules and regulations as he may deem necessary or proper for the use and management of the parks, monuments, and reservations under the jurisdiction of the National Park Service(54 U.S.C. §100501).

In 1970, Congress amended the NPS Organic Act to clarify its intentions as to the overall mission of the NPS. Through the General Authorities Act of 1970 (54 U.S.C. §100101-101301), Congress brought all areas administered by the NPS into one National Park System and directed the NPS to manage all areas under its administration consistent with the Organic Act of 1916.

In 1978, Congress amended the General Authorities Act of 1970, and reasserted System-wide the high standard of protection defined in the original Organic Act by stating:

Congress further reaffirms, declares, and directs that the promotion and regulation of the various areas of the National Park System, as defined by Section 1 of this Title, shall be consistent with and founded in the purpose established by Section 1 of this Title, to the common benefit of all people of the United States.

54 U.S.C. §100501 defines the National Park System as:

…any areas of land and water now or hereafter administered by the Secretary of the Interior through the National Park Service for park, monument, historic, parkway, recreational, or other purposes.

In addition to the above statutory authority, the Superintendent is guided by established NPS policy as found in the NPS Management Policies (2006). The Superintendent is also guided by more specific policies promulgated by the Director, National Park Service, in the form of Director’s Orders. As stated in the Management Policies, the primary responsibility of the NPS is to protect and preserve our national natural and cultural resources while providing for the enjoyment of these resources by visitor and other users, as long as use does not impair specific park resources or overall visitor experience. The appropriateness of any particular visitor use or recreational experience is resource-based and will vary from park to park; therefore, a use or activity that is appropriate in one park area may not be appropriate in another. The Superintendent is directed to analyze overall park use and determine if any particular use is appropriate. Where conflict arises between use and resource protection, where the Superintendent has a reasonable basis to believe a resource is or would become impaired, than that Superintendent is obliged to place limitations on public use.

3. Consistency of This Compendium with Applicable Federal Law and Requirements

The Superintendent’s Compendium is not considered a significant rule requiring review by the Office of Management and Budget under Executive Order 12866. In addition, this Compendium will not have a significant economic effect on a number of small entities nor impose a significant cost on any local, state or tribal government or private organization, and therefore does not fall under the requirements of either the Regulatory Flexibility Act or the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act.

The actions and requirements described in this Compendium are found to be categorically excluded from further compliance with the procedural requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) in Department of the Interior (DOI) Guidelines 516 DM 6 and as such, an Environmental Assessment will not be prepared.

4. Development of the Requirements of the Superintendent’s Compendium

As outlined above, the NPS has broad authority and responsibility to determine what types of uses and activities are appropriate in any particular National Park System area. The requirements of the Superintendent’s Compendium are developed through an analysis and determination process. The decision criteria used during this process are:

  • Is there use or activity consistent with the NPS Organic Act and NPS policy?
  • Is the use or activity consistent and compatible with the park’s enabling legislation, management objectives, and corresponding management plans?
  • Will the use or activity damage the park’s protected natural and cultural resources and other protected values?
  • Will the use or activity disturb or be in conflict with wildlife, vegetation, and environmental protection actions and values?
  • Will the use or activity conflict with or be incompatible with traditional park uses and activities?
  • Will the use or activity compromise employee or public safety?

5. Applicability of the Compendium

The rules contained in this Compendium apply to all persons entering, using, visiting or otherwise present on Federally-owned lands, including submerged lands, and waters administered by the NPS within the legislative boundaries of the park. This includes all waters subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, including all navigable waters.

6. Enforcement of Compendium Requirements

NPS Law Enforcement Park Rangers enforce the requirements of the United State Code, 36 CFR, assimilated state regulations, and this Superintendent’s Compendium.

7. Penalties for Not Adhering to the Compendium Requirements

A person who violates any provision of the regulations found in 36 CFR, Parts 1-7, or provisions of this Compendium, is subject to a fine as provided by law (18 U.S.C. 3571) up to $5,000 for individuals and $10,000 for organizations, or by imprisonment not exceeding six months (18 U.S.C. 3559), or both, and shall be adjudged to pay all court costs associated with any court proceedings. You may receive a list of fines associated with any particular provision by contacting the Chief Ranger at the park address found below.

8. Comments on the Compendium

The Compendium is reviewed annually and revised as necessary. The park welcomes comments about its program and activities at any time.

9. Effective Date of the Superintendent Compendium

The Superintendent’s Compendium is effective on the approval date listed on the first page of this document and remains in effect until revised for a period up to one year.

10. Additional Information

Some of the terms used in this Compendium may have specific meaning defined in 36 CFR 1.4 Definitions.

11. Availability

Copies of the Compendium are available for viewing by contacting the Chief Ranger's Office at Great Smoky Mountains National Park, 107 Park Headquarters Road, Gatlinburg, TN. It may also be found online HERE.


The following regulatory provisions are established for the proper management, protection, government and public use of Great Smoky Mountains National Park under the jurisdiction of the National Park Service. These are in accordance with regulations and the delegated authority provided in Title 36, Code of Federal Regulations (“36 CFR”), Chapter 1, Parts 1-7, authorized by Title 54 United States Code §100751. Unless otherwise stated, these regulatory provisions apply in addition to the requirements contained in 36 CFR, Chapter 1 and Section 7 .14 Special Regulations.

Written determinations, which explain the reasoning behind the Superintendent’s use of discretionary authority, as required by Section 1.5(c), appear in this document identified by italicized print.


Bear Pepper Spray - Also known as bear deterrent, bear repellant or bear spray. Bear pepper spray is a chemical formula designed specifically to deter aggressive or attacking bears. It must be registered with the Environmental Protection Agency and individual states. It must be commercially manufactured and labeled as "Bear Pepper Spray". Bear spray must contain between I% and 2% of the active ingredients capsaicin and related capsaicinoids.


Note: See the current Facility Operating Schedule for a listing of opening and closing dates of park facilities.

(a)(1) Closures
Road Closures

The following roads are closed to motor vehicles during winter months:

  • Heintooga Ridge Road
  • Clingmans Dome Road
  • Balsam Mountain/Straight Fork Road
  • Little Greenbrier Road
  • Rich Mountain Road
  • Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail
  • Forge Creek Road

These roads are closed during the winter months due to weather and road conditions that make them impassable.

The following roads are closed intermittently due to extreme weather conditions:

  • Abrams Creek Campground Road
  • Big Greenbrier Road
  • Cades Cove Loop Road
  • Cataloochee Access Road
  • Cherokee Orchard Road
  • Cosby Campground Access
  • Foothills Parkway-East
  • Foothills Parkway-West
  • Gatlinburg By-Pass
  • Lakeview Drive
  • Laurel Creek Road
  • Little River Road
  • Newfound Gap Road (aka U.S. 441)
  • Old NC SR 284
  • Thomas Branch Road
  • Old NC SR 288
  • Upper Tremont Road
  • Wears Cove Gap

These roads are closed intermittently due to extreme weather conditions such as heavy snow or ice.

Travel on the Newfound Gap, Little River, and Laurel Creek roads may be restricted at times to vehicles with specific equipment, e.g. 4-wheel drive or vehicles with tire chains, due to weather/road conditions. Restrictions will be posted and enforced pursuant to 36 CFR 4.12.

The following roads will be closed to motor vehicle traffic daily at official sunset by the closing of access gates, or as indicated by posted signs:

  • Cades Cove Loop Road
  • Cataloochee Entrance Road beyond the ranger station access gate. Only authorized traffic is allowed beyond the ranger station access gate.

These roads are closed at night to allow undisturbed use of the area along the roads by wildlife species. This closure also provides security for irreplaceable historic structures that could not otherwise be afforded such protection.

Cades Cove Loop Road
The Cades Cove Loop Road will be closed to motorized vehicles from official sunrise until 10 a.m. on Saturday mornings and Wednesday mornings beginning on the Wednesday preceding the second Saturday in May until the Wednesday preceding the last Saturday in September. This restriction applies to all motorized vehicles except those having official business along the Cades Cove Loop Road.
The Saturday and Wednesday morning closures of the Cades Cove loop Road are in response to a large number of requests from the public to have an opportunity to view wildlife, the historic scene and natural beauty of the Cove without the intrusion of motor vehicles.

Cataloochee Valley Road may be temporarily closed to vehicles on the upper section (i.e. beyond the turn off to the horse camp) as determined by on-site personnel in response to traffic conditions.
The narrow road is sometimes unable to accommodate the volume of traffic generated by visitors watching elk. Temporary closures are intended to improve traffic flow and safety.

Wiley Oakley Drive Bridge
Pedestrian traffic is prohibited on the Wiley Oakley Drive Bridge, known locally as the Legion Field Bridge, which spans the West Prong of the Little Pigeon River on the Foothills Parkway Spur.
The Foothills Parkway Spur is a two-lane divided highway, which runs north and south between the cities of Pigeon Forge, TN., and Gatlinburg, TN. The speed limit on the Parkway is posted 45 mph, though vehicles typically travel between 50 and 55 mph. Wiley Oakley Drive Bridge is a vehicle crossover connecting the north and southbound spur, however, it was not designed for foot traffic. The sidewalk is too narrow and does not provide for safe distance from vehicular traffic. The guardrails are too low and do not provide a safe barrier for pedestrians from vehicular traffic. Intersections at Wiley Oakley Drive and Little Smoky are uncontrolled, having no traffic lights or established pedestrian crosswalks. Pedestrian traffic crossing the southbound spur at Wiley Oakley Drive and the northbound spur at Little Smoky, creates an unreasonable risk of pedestrian versus vehicle accidents.

Parsons Branch Road
Parsons Branch Road is closed to vehicular traffic.
Parsons Branch Road sustained washouts and other damage from several storms which has made it unsafe for vehicular travel. Additionally, an inspection has revealed that there are thousands of roadside trees killed by insects and diseases which pose a hazard to the public.

Area Closures
The following picnic areas are closed at 8:00 p.m. from May 1 through August 31 and closed at sunset from September 1 through April 30.

  • Cades Cove (open year round)
  • Chimneys (closed during winter months - see current Facility Operating Schedule)
  • Collins Creek (closed during the winter months-see current Facility Operating Schedule)

Wildlife, and especially bears, are adversely impacted by abandoned foodstuffs and garbage. Wild bears in picnic areas obtain food or garbage at night before becoming day active. Once habituated, they often cause property damage or personal injury. This closure assures sufficient daylight to allow picnickers and park personnel to gather up and properly dispose of all food and garbage before darkness falls.

Oconaluftee Visitor Center & Mountain Farm Museum
The collection of historic structures adjacent to the Oconaluftee Visitor Center and known as the Mountain Farm Museum, which includes the area within the wooden split-rail fence and all structures, extending from the wooden split-rail fence at the farm area down to the Oconaluftee River (which prohibits access to the walkway on the river side of the Mountain Farm Museum) are closed to public use from sunset to official sunrise.

This closure does not apply to the Oconaluftee River Trail, as it extends from the southern end of farmstead and leads into Cherokee.

The Mingus Mill area is closed to public use from sunset to official sunrise. The closure includes all developed areas at or near the Mill including all man made features associated with the Mill as well as all paved walkways which lead to the Mill, beginning behind the restroom structure. The dirt road bed, which leads from Highway 441 to the Mill as well as the trail, which borders the Mill water trough to its origin upstream from the Mill are also part of the closed area. The parking lot and restroom facility and its immediate walkway at the parking lot are not affected by this closure.
This closure is to protect the structures from vandalism and unauthorized access after hours.

Park Headquarters Building
The Park headquarters building is an administrative area used for official business. Access to the building is limited to NPS employees, volunteers, contractors and visitors with official business. Park visitors and guests may ring for assistance at the main door in the front of the Headquarters building.
There is a critical need to provide for the safety and security of employees and government facilities. Access to the park headquarters building will be maintained through the use of automatically locking doors, which require a PIV card to open.

South District Housing & Facilities Area
The following park areas are closed to all public uses and are designated for Official Use Only. Examples of public uses are vehicular traffic, walking, hiking and bicycling.

  • The primary Park housing area and South District Maintenance Facility. This area has a looped access Road.
    The closed area is the entire housing area along the Oconaluftee Residence Road. The northern section of the Oconaluftee Residence Road with access to the Luten Bridge parking area remains open to the public, but all housing driveways and non-paved areas along the southern road shoulder are closed to parking and all other public use. The interior section of the Oconaluftee Residence Road is closed to all vehicles, walkers and bicyclist. All mowed or maintained areas within the housing area are closed to public use. The South District Maintenance Facility is part of this closure and includes the parking and facility areas south of Oconaluftee Residence Road and the small field and woods between the facility and the primary Park housing area. The closed area boundary is defined by the South District Housing & Facilities Closure Map.

  • The temporary Park housing area. This area has a short road access known as the Oconaluftee River Road and provides access to seasonal apartment quarters and Park volunteer housing sites. The Oconaluftee River Road is closed to public access. All mowed or maintained areas within the temporary housing area are closed to public use. The closed area boundary is defined by the South District Housing Closure Map.

Official Use is defined as persons authorized to conduct official business with or for the National Park Service; employees, volunteers, and contractors. Official Use also includes Park housing residents, their family members and/or guests of residents as well as delivery service employees conducting official business. Official users of the Oconaluftee Job Corps Center are staff and students of the facility and those person(s) designated by the Center Director or his/her designee.

Closures may be advertised through public notice and will be implemented by one or more of the following methods: signs, gates, barricades, other traffic control devices, vehicles and/or as directed by authorized persons. Justification: Due to the layout of the designated area it is increasingly difficult to ensure visitor safety and elk safety with visitor/elk interactions coming at an increased rate due to the ever increasing elk population. Numerous Elk and other Wildlife viewing opportunities currently exist in other nearby park locations. Closing these areas prevents inadvertent contact between elk and visitors which could lead to the disturbance of the elk. Restricting public access to administrative facilities and employee housing areas provides improved security for employees and privacy for residents. Residences are rented and occupied by employees. Allowing visitor access significantly disturbs the privacy and disrupts the residential life of the occupants. Other buildings, facilities, and locations are administrative sites used by the NPS in the management and administration of the park. Visitor use of these areas interferes with the protection of government property, creates potentially hazardous conditions for visitors and interferes with park operations.

Whiteoak Sink
The Whiteoak Sink area is closed from September I to March 31. This closure includes all paths and "manway" routes that lead into the Whiteoak Sink area, as posted on the ground, and all off-trail areas within 0.25 miles of all caves in the area. The closure does not include any trails officially maintained by the National Park Service. Research activity will be permitted on a case by case basis at the discretion of the superintendent.
This closure is intended to protect natural resources and improve public safety. The paths and "manyway" routes to and from Whiteoak Sink are not official trails. Whiteoak blowhole cave is critical habitat for the endangered Indiana bat and other hibernating bats. Cave dwelling bat populations in the United States, including Great Smoky Mountains National Park, have undergone unprecedented declines due to white-nose syndrome (WNS). The US. Fish and Wildlife Service has designated Whiteoak blowhole as critical habitat; only one of 11 caves nationally whose protection is critical for the survival of the Indiana bat. They have specified that adequate protection includes forested buffer areas a minimum of ¼ mile surrounding critical habitat caves. Some bats affected by WNS have exhibited sick and or unusual behavior including erratic flight during daylight throughout the winter. Human disturbance causes bats to use reserves necessary to survive winter hibernation. Bats are the only mammal species in Great Smoky Mountains National Park to have tested positive for rabies. Physical skin to skin contact with a bat is considered a potential exposure to rabies and requires immediate medical attention. Therefore, it has been determined that this action is necessary to protect natural resources and public health.

Temporary Public Use Closures
All public use, including hiking, bicycling and horseback riding is prohibited on the Foothills Parkway between the intersection of U.S. 321 and the Foothills Parkway in Wears Valley (Lat/Log N35°43'15", W083°38'42") and the intersection of U.S. 321 and the Foothills Parkway in Walland (Lat/Long N35°43'05", W083°49'1 l".) The closure will be in effect from December 16, 2010 until further notice.
Public use of the roadway or the pioneer road on the missing link" would expose the public to construction vehicle traffic and/or construction activity, and would create an unreasonable public safety risk. This closure is also intended to minimize the opportunity for vandalism and theft of construction supplies and equipment at isolated sites.

Trail and Backcountry Closures
The rocky ridge adjacent to the Alum Cave Bluff area, commonly known as: "Eye of the Needle", "Little Duck Hawk", and "Raven's Roost" is closed to public access. The closed area is a narrow rocky ledge that runs in a north/south direction. Closure signs will be posted approximately I 00 yards from the junction with Alum Cave Trail along a manway leading to the mentioned ridge.
This closure is to prevent disturbance of nesting Peregrine Falcons. The success of Peregrine Falcons in raising their young is significantly decreased by human disturbances. Successful nesting has been observed

Chimney Tops
The Chimney Tops Trail is closed to all public use at the I. 7 5 mile mark from the trailhead. There is a trail closure structure installed at the closure point (GPS coordinates: N35°37.579, W083°28.687), which includes the gate structure to mark the closure of the remainder of the trail to the rock face known as the 'Chimney Tops.'

The rocky ridge that connects the Chimney Tops Trail with the manway on the North Chimney is closed to all public use.

The path commonly known as the manway" or the "backside of the Chimneys" (located in a north northeast direction between the north side of the North Chimney and the West Prong of the Little Pigeon River) is closed to public use.
The top most 0.25 mile section of the trail to the Chimney Tops pinnacles was heavily damaged by fire. The upper section of trail and rocky pinnacles are not safe for visitors. The manway access to/from the Chimney Tops is not an official trail. Public use of this very steep route has resulted in numerous search and rescue operations, many of which involved the removal of injured persons by litter and one of which involved a fatality. This area is closed to preserve the public health and safety and to preclude resource damage.

The summit of Mt Le Conte at Cliff Top - approximately a two-acre area west of Sunset Rock, including the ledges-is closed to public use.
Public use of this area has resulted in disturbances which threaten the survival of several populations of Federally endangered species.

Deep Creek and Indian Creek are closed to recreational tubing north of the intersection of the Deep Creek and Indian Creek trails, (approximately .7 miles north of the gate at the Deep Creek trailhead).
Both Deep Creek and Indian Creek are constricted with hazardous strainers north of the "put-in", which is approximately . 7 miles north of the gate at Deep Creek trailhead on Deep Creek. Two signs are posted; one on Deep Creek just above the "put-in", and one at the start of the Indian Creek trail which state, "No tubing above this point". This closure also prevents recreational tubing down Indian Creek Falls, located 100 feet from the intersection of the two trails.

(a)(2) Public Use Restrictions
For Informational Purposes: Bear Pepper Spray as defined in Section 1.4 of this document may be carried by individuals within the Great Smoky Mountains National Park for the strict purpose of protecting one's self or others from bodily Harm against aggressive wildlife. It should not be applied to people, tents, packs, or other equipment or surrounding area as a repellent.

Willfully approaching within 50 yards of bear or elk, or within any distance that results in their disturbance or displacement, is prohibited.
Wild animals have behavior that is often unpredictable. Engaging in any activity which places a person in close proximity to wild animals places the person at risk for injury or death. Wildlife may interpret this human behavior as threatening or aggressive, which in turn jeopardizes the well-being of the animal. This restriction does not apply to inadvertent or casual encounters with wildlife in developed areas where foot traffic is normal and routine, e.g. sidewalks and established walkways, campground roads, etc. or in other areas where there is no reasonable alternative travel route.

The open display and/or use of radio telemetry equipment, or other similar tracking devices (such as GPS devices and smart phone app's) that are commonly used to track wildlife and hunting dogs, are prohibited in the park without the prior permission of the Chief Ranger's Office [i.e. a commissioned law enforcement ranger or the Communications Center], and may only be used to expedite the retrieval of a dog that is believed to be running loose in the park. Persons seeking permission to display or use radio telemetry equipment shall, on a daily basis, provide their name, telephone number and vehicle description as well as a description of the dog/s sought and the area in which the search is to be conducted.

Permission to use this equipment to retrieve a loose dog does not exempt a person from any other regulation or law. Persons with a valid Research Permit are exempted from this requirement.
Radio telemetry is an efficient method of catching a dog that has entered the park. However, radio telemetry can also be used to track wildlife or to facilitate a hunt by tracking dogs in pursuit of wildlife. This restriction is intended to facilitate the legitimate use of telemetry equipment in the park and to assist law enforcement personnel in distinguishing legitimate from illegal use.

Entry into caves or mine shafts is prohibited except pursuant to a Scientific Research and Collecting Permit.
Pursuant to a cave advisory issued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service dated March 26, 2009, all caves and mine shafts are closed to all visitor activities until further notice. This closure is meant to protect fragile natural resources, including threatened or endangered species, from exposure to White-Nose Syndrome (WNS).

For infonnation about Scientific Research and Collecting Permits see htll)://

All fields are closed to pedestrian and horse traffic during the months of May through June and August through October or when elk are present in all of the following areas:

  • Cataloochee Valley area of the Park;

  • Either side of US Highway 441 (Newfound Gap Road) in the Cherokee Area of the Park, including the Towstring and Couche's Creek Area (mile 29), areas across from the Oconaluftee Job Corps or Mingus Mill, and the Mountain Fann Museum fields north of the Blue Ridge Parkway and south of the Oconaluftee Visitor Center;
  • NPS I Oconaluftee park housing areas
  • South District Maintenance Complex

The two critical periods of time for wildlife are the elk calving season and the elk rut. During both periods of time elk can become more aggressive and unpredictable. The increase in the size of the local elk herds often has them spread throughout the various fields and open areas. Some of the fields in these areas are smaller than the required 50 yards needed to prevent any disturbance of wildlife established earlier in this section.

Field closures are used as a management tool to better provide for safe and ethical wildlife viewing while mitigating risk of inadvertent contact between visitors and elk, which could lead to disturbance of the elk and or an attack by the elk, which may place an individual at risk for injury or death.

Unmanned Aircraft
Launching, landing, or operating an unmanned aircraft from or on lands and waters administered by the National Park Service within the boundaries of Great Smoky Mountains National Park is prohibited except as approved in writing by the superintendent.

The term "unmanned aircraft" means a device that is used or intended to be used for flight in the air without the possibility of direct human intervention from within or on the device, and the associated operational elements and components that are required for the pilot or system operator in command to operate or control the device (such as cameras, sensors, communication links). This tenn includes all types of devices that meet this definition (e.g., model airplanes, quadcopters, drones) that are used for any purpose, including for recreation or commerce.
The compendium closures required to implement this interim policy are necessary to maintain public health and safety in units of the National Park System and to protect park resources and values until the NPS can determine whether specific uses of unmanned aircraft on lands and waters administered by the NPS are appropriate and will not cause unacceptable impacts on park resources and values. This closure by the superintendent implements Section 1.5 of NPS Management Policies 2006, which provides that a new form of park use may be allowed within a park only after a determination has been made in the professional judgment of the superintendent that it will not result in unacceptable impacts on park resources and values. When proposed park uses and the protection of park resources and values come into conflict, the protection of recourse and values must be predominant.

The transportation or possession of firewood, imported from outside the park, which is not in the original packaging, and which is not labeled and does not bear a certification seal from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) or a state agency as heat treated firewood, is prohibited. Campers may collect wood, which is both dead and down, inside the Park to burn at park campsites.

For the purposes of this regulation, firewood is defined as any wood cut, sold or intended for use as firewood, including chips, limbs, branches, etc. with or without bark. Kiln-dried, finished and cut lumber or lumber scraps from which the bark has been cut, like that purchased from a hardware store, and commercially produced compressed wood logs, such as Duraflame, are not considered firewood and are not regulated as firewood.
This closure is intended to prevent or slow the introduction of exotic insects or diseases into the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. For example, the emerald ash borer (EAB) has already killed tens of millions of trees in those states that have been infested As a result, the movement of firewood within and from infested areas is regulated by the states and the federal government. The USDA has documented that a number of other harmful species can be transported in firewood

This requirement eliminates the risk of transporting pests, since insects and diseases do not survive heat treatment. Therefore, it has been determined that this action is necessary to protect the natural resources of the park.

Climbing on and or jumping from cliffs and rock faces of the shoreline of the Little River in the vicinity of the Townsend Wye, specifically from a point one-quarter mile east of the confluence of Little River and the Middle Prong downstream to a point one-quarter mile north of the confluence of the Little River and Middle Prong.
The Townsend Wye is a heavily used area for many water-related recreational activities. Climbing on and or jumping.from the rock faces and cliffs into the Linle River is a high-risk activity, and unnecessarily jeopardizes the safety of visitors recreating (swimming, tubing, fishing) in the river below.

The possession of glass containers is prohibited in all areas of the park where people gather to swim, wade or tube.
Broken glass on the river bottoms and along the river banks has caused a safety problem for persons wading, swimming and walking along the river.

A special use permit is required for all "trail angel" activities. "Trail angels" or "trail magic" are people or groups who provide some type of unsolicited, free assistance to A.T. thru-hikers, primarily providing food or drink.
Permits are issued for thru-hiker support activities to ensure the supplies and equipment is appropriate for thru­hiker needs, the management of backcountry resources, and compliance with backcountry regulations.

Reservations (via are required for the use of the following facilities:

  • Group Camping Areas, including the pavilion at Cades Cove
  • Cataloochee Campground

Reservations (via htt,ps:// are required for use of the following facilities:

  • Backcountry Campsites and Shelters

Reservations are required because of the high demand for the limited facilities and/or space available.

Reservations are strongly recommended, and the only way to guarantee access, at the following facilities:

  • Picnic pavilions at Collins Creek, Cosby, Deep Creek, Greenbrier, and Metcalf Bottoms.

The use of generators in park campgrounds is prohibited between the hours of 8:00 PM and 8:00 AM, except when a waiver has been granted for the powering of medical equipment. Persons who require the use of a generator during quiet hours should obtain a waiver from the campground office or by calling ahead. Generators may not be left running when the campsite is unattended.

  • Generator use is prohibited at all times in campground loops/sites designated as "generator free", as follows:
  • Big Creek Campground
  • Cades Cove: All of C loop, except when B loop is closed. When B loop is closed, generator use is permitted in C loop.
  • Cosby Campground: A29-4 l, B l-B2 l
  • Elkmont loops A,B,L,M,N
  • Smokemont: A, B and C loops, except when loops C, D, and F are closed. When loops C, D, and F are closed, generator use is permitted in loops A and B.
  • Deep Creek Tent Area: Sites 1-42

Generator use is prohibited in group sites.

Generator waivers should not be granted in generator free areas except at sites designated as accessible sites. The use of generators and the idling of engines to recharge batteries is strictly prohibited in designated generator-free areas of campgrounds.
Generator noise is counter to the semi-wilderness atmosphere sought by many campers, especially at certain times of the day or when present for extended periods of time. The lack of discretion displayed by some campers necessitates further restrictions on generators.

The use of hand-drawn, wheeled carts is prohibited on all but the following trails:

  • Hazel Creek from Fontana up to campsite #83;
  • Noland Creek from Fontana up to campsite #64; and
  • Forney Creek from Fontana up to campsite #74

A hand-drawn, wheeled cart is a two-wheeled cart, having tub dimensions no greater than 48"Lx24"Wx l 8"H. The cart should be easily moved by one person.
The use of wheeled vehicles such as carts and bicycles is counter to NPS management policies for recommended wilderness areas. The designated trails are excluded from the recommended wilderness area, as they are designated as administrative roads. Hand-drawn cart use has been allowed on these designated trails for several years, and provides the opportunity for individuals who may not be physically able to carry a heavy pack, to cart-in their equipment for a backcountry camping experience. The maximum size of the hand carts provides sufficient capacity for the equipment needs of the average backcountry camper.

The use of horse drawn carts is prohibited on all backcountry trails.
Horses are considered a pack animal, have the ability to pack equipment, and can haul a load into the backcountry. Therefore horse drawn carts are not necessary and are prohibited.

Horse drawn wagons are prohibited on all park roads and trails, except those being operated by authorized park concessions operations.

Drivers of commercial passenger-carrying diesel-fueled motor vehicles are prohibited from idling their engines in parking lots of developed areas.
The noise and fumes caused by these engines severely impacts the natural experiences sought by many visitors.

The searching of government-owned refuse containers and/or the removal of recyclable materials from these containers by persons other than the official collection contractor or authorized NPS staff is prohibited.
The removal of recyclable materials is contrary to the provisions of the park's refuse collection contract.

The parking of non-government (private) vehicles within fenced and or gated park compounds or installations is prohibited. An exception to this prohibition may be granted by the Superintendent or his designee. In these instances, employees would be directed where to park their vehicles within the compound.
Park compounds are limited in space and vehicle capacity, must provide for repeated ingress and egress by government vehicles, and must provide for the security of government-owned vehicles and property. The parking of private vehicles within these compounds increases vehicle traffic congestion, reduces parking areas for government vehicles, decreases work space within the complex, and presents a potential liability for the government should private vehicles incur damage(s) while parked within the complex.

I. 36 CFR §1.6 – PERMITS

Pursuant to the provisions of 36 CFR 1.6(t) the following is a compilation of the activities for which a permit is required.

  • Trail Angel Activities 1.5(a)(2)
  • Specimen Collection Permit 2.5(a)
  • Campground Permit (Developed Campground Fee Receipt) 2.10(a)
  • BackcountryCampingPermit 2.10(a)
  • Fee Waiver 71.13(d)
  • Pet Permit (park residents) 2.15€
  • Special Event Permit 2.50(a)
  • Agricultural Permit 2.60(b)
  • Memorialization (Scattering of human ashes) 2.62(b)
  • Business Operations Permit 5.3
  • Commercial Photography Permit 5.5
  • Commercial Vehicle Permit 5.6(c)

Please Note: Some activities under the following sections may require a permit:

  • Demonstrations 2.51(b)
  • Sale & Distribution of Print Matter 2.52(b)

Permits will be specific in nature to the activity being permitted. In those cases where permit use is frequent a specific permit form has been designed, i.e. backcountry permit, campground fee permit, commercial photography//filming permit. In most other cases a special use permit or letter of authorization will be prepared laying out the specific conditions under which the permitted activity is authorized. In all cases a permit or letter of authorization must be in the permitee's possession at all times and exhibited to any authorized person upon request.

Recreational Fee Permits for overnight stays in developed area campgrounds will be issued by a self-registration system, or by visitor contact collection system as posted at the campground entrance. In self-registration campgrounds, the application requirement shall be met by completing the fee collection envelope, inserting the required payment into the envelope, and depositing the envelope in the security container at the registration station. In campgrounds that use a visitor contact collection system, the application requirement will be met by purchasing the permit directly from the ranger collecting the fee or by having made payment through the National Park Reservation Service (NPRS). For the Cataloochee Campground, group sites, horse camps and picnic shelters that require reservations through the NPRS, the application requirement will be met by purchasing the permit through the NPRS.

(b) Backcountry permits: General backcountry, commercial use authorization and AT thru hiker permits may be purchased online at htt_ps:// or by contacting the Backcountry Office. Cross-country permits may be requested and purchased by contacting the Backcountry Management Specialist. Authorized staff may also issue backcountry permits in the field. Visitors have 72 hours from the last day of their backcountry itinerary to contact the Backcountry Office and pay for a field issued permit. Administrative backcountry permits will be issued by the Backcountry Office free of charge for staff and volunteers on official business, with supervisor approval. Permit holders may not transfer permits to another person and must be with the group in possession of the permit.


( a)( 4) Gathering and possession of dead and down wood ( dead wood that is on the ground), is permitted in all areas provided such wood is collected as fuel for campfires within the park and will be burned in a designated fire ring. Collecting only dead and down wood is specified so that living materials are not unnecessarily destroyed.

(a)(5) Public entry to any historic building or structure, or part thereof, is permitted, provided the building is open to normal public access.

(c)(l ) The following fruits, berries, nuts and above ground fruiting bodies of certain fungi may be gathered by hand for personal use or consumption ( commercial use is prohibited):

  • Blueberries (Vaccinium spp.)
  • Strawberries (Fragaria virginiana)
  • Blackberries (Rubus spp.)
  • Grapes (Vitis spp.)
  • Elderberries (Sambucus pubens)
  • Gooseberries/Currants (Ribes spp.)
  • Black raspberries (Rubus occidentalis)
  • Huckleberries (Gaylussacia spp.)
  • Cherries (Prunus spp.)
  • Serviceberries (Amelanchier laevis)
  • Persimmon (Diospyros virginiana)
  • Black walnut (Jug/ans nigra)
  • Hickory
  • American hazelnut (Cory/8mericanaana)
  • Apples, pears, and peaches
  • Red Mulberries (M. rubra L.)
  • Mushrooms are the fruiting bodies of fungi, and may be collected under the following conditions:

I) at least 100 feet away from roads, parking areas, picnic areas, campgrounds, structures or other facilities.
2) must be edible species only
3) may only be the fruiting bodies growing on soil or rotting logs on the ground
4) are limited to 1 pound per person per day for all fungal species combined.

It is prohibited to collect fungal fruiting bodies from trees that are standing, including dead standing trees, or where fruiting bodies are underground.

(c)(2)(i) The amount of fruits, berries, nuts and fruiting bodies of mushrooms, that are authorized for collection,shall not exceed 1 pound per person per day for each species, except for apples, pears and peaches.

The unrestricted collection of native fruits, berries, nuts and fruiting bodies could adversely impact plant propagation and/or wildlife food sources.

(c)(2)(i) Persons gathering edible fruits and nuts are prohibited from climbing trees, using stools or ladders.
The use of these methods are restricted to protect the vegetationfrom undue damage (i.e., broken branches, etc.), and allow sufficient supplies of food for wildlife species.

(c)(2)(ii) The gathering of designated fruits, berries, nuts, and mushrooms, is prohibited within 200 feet of nature trails, motor nature trails, handicapped accessible trails and scientific and natural study areas.
Gathering fruits, berries, nuts and mushrooms near nature trails, where visitors view nature, would irreversibly impact the natural scene. Gathering near research areas could negatively impact research results.

The collection of ramps is not allowed under 36 CFR or 54 USC. The exception that once existed within an earlier edition of this Compendium has been rescinded.


(d) Game animals lawfully taken outside of Great Smoky Mountains may be transported by vehicle through the park using the following roads:

Any paved section of the Foothills Parkway; Newfound Gap Road from Cherokee Indian Reservation boundary to Gatlinburg, Tennessee, or to U. S. 441 by way of the By-pass; Tow String Road from Newfound Gap Road Cherokee Indian Reservation boundary; U. S. Forest Service Road 288 within park boundary; Old NC 284 from U. S. Forest Service Road 288 North to park boundary; and U.S. 441 between Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg.

Wildlife taken lawfully outside the park, may be transported through the park on the above approved routes under the following conditions:

  1. Persons transporting will have in their possession a valid State/Tribal hunting license.
  2. Animal carcasses will display a valid State/Tribal game tag when required and will have been checked through a State/Tribal checking station.
  3. Animal carcasses must be covered or out of sight.
  4. Animal carcasses will be subject to inspection at any time by an authorized person.

The carcasses of animals legally taken adjacent to the Foothills Parkway outside of the Parkway boundary may not be transported on or across the Parkway without first contacting the Communications Center in Gatlinburg, TN.
The park does not wish to impede those hunting legally in jurisdictions outside the park, nor the transportation of legally taken game. However, the transportation of game through the park, an area closed to hunting, has elicited visitor complaints and could cause confusion with the park's hunting regulations if not managed in this manner.

(e) The viewing of wildlife or areas frequented by wildlife by using a hand-held light or vehicle headlight or any other type of mounted light within the park is prohibited.
The viewing of wildlife at night with the use of artificial lights temporarily blinds the animals, causing them to become unnaturally easy prey for predators.

I. 36 CFR §2.3 – FISHERIES

See section 7 .14 for reference to dropper flies, license exemptions and use of scented baits.


Pursuant to the authority found in 36 CFR 2.5, the Superintendent may issue permits for the collection of plants, fish, wildlife, rocks and minerals for research purposes according to general and park-specific conditions established by the National Park Service for scientific research and coIIecting permits. These conditions are found online at and are subject to revision. The guidelines found at that web site are hereby adopted and made a part of these orders.


(a) Camping is prohibited in areas being restored or revegetated and so posted, pursuant to 36 CFR l.7(a).
Restoration efforts are compromised by camping activities.

Camping in any historic structure or building is prohibited.
Historic structures are fragile and need protection from any activity that could adversely impact the structure or degrade the historic scene.

Frontcountry Camping
Camping is permitted only in designated campgrounds. Campgrounds are designated on a map located in the office of the park Superintendent, by appropriate signing, and by brochures available to the public at ranger stations and visitor centers.

Stay limits: No person or their equipment shall occupy a campground for more than (14) fourteen consecutive days, or more than ( 60) sixty total days in a calendar year in all campgrounds.
Long periods of stay are inconsistent with the management of public campgrounds, which are intended to provide a short-term national park camping experience to all interested visitors.

Fees: Camping fees, where applicable, are due upon occupying a campsite. Sites for which required fees are not paid will be considered unoccupied and available for use.

Vehicle limits: No more than two (2) motor vehicles or one vehicle with trailer are allowed per campsite. Vehicle(s) and wheeled camping units must be parked on pavement, when pavement is provided. In the absence of pavement, vehicles and wheeled camping units must be parked on the graveled area of the campsite. Any additional vehicles must be parked in a designated parking area. Campground staff may allow, on a case-by-case basis, more than two vehicles at a campsite when the size of the pad and the size of the vehicles allows for all wheels to be parked on the paved or graveled area.

Camping structure limits: Camping structures must be placed on the tent pad, where a pad is provided. One additional camping structure may be placed off the tent pad on the hardened/impacted area around the picnic table. The intent is to allow those structures which provide overhead protection from weather or protection from insects. All camping structures must be erected within the foot print of the campsite's impacted and hardened area. At those campsites without tent pads, camping structures must be located within the existing impacted/hardened foot print of the campsite. Campers wishing to use additional structures should consider renting two campsites or a group site. (Group sites may be occupied by a minimum of seven (7) persons.)
Tarps, para wings, and wings: Their use is permitted as long as they do not impact, injure or damage park resources by their deployment. Tarps, parawings and wings are not considered camping structures.

The combined use of portable structures and water­holding containers for the purpose of showering within developed campgrounds must provide for a way to collect grey water and dispose of it in an approved manner. Such equipment includes, but is not limited to, sun showers, shower shelters and rooms, privacy shelters, porta-showers, and shower systems.

The use of portable shower systems within developed campgrounds presents a sanitation issue if they do not provide for the proper collection and disposal of grey water.

Size limitations: No one camping structure shall exceed a maximum size of 170 square feet. Any one tarp, para wing, or wing may not exceed 625 square feet.

Motorhomes and camping trailers are prohibited in group campgrounds. Pickup mounted campers are permitted only as transportation I storage vehicles, i.e. campers cannot be used for lodging. Whereas the design of the Cataloochee group campground allows for the parking of wheeled units directly adjacent to the sites without adversely impacting resources, two (2) wheeled camping units are allowed per campsite.

With the exception of the Cataloochee Group campground, group campgrounds are intended to provide for a primitive camping experience by larger groups, particularly youth groups. RVs are inconsistent with that experience. Parking space is also limited.

Occupancy limits: Occupancy of developed campgrounds is limited to one (I) immediate family or six ( 6) persons per family campsite. Group sites may be occupied by a minimum of seven (7) persons; maximum occupancy is site specific and shown in the current Facility Operating Schedule.

Tents shall be placed on tent pads where provided.

Entry and occupancy of developed campgrounds is restricted to registered campers and vehicles between I 0 p.m. and 6 a.m.

The "holding" or "reserving" of additional campsites for other campers that have not yet arrived in campgrounds operating on a "first come first serve" basis, is prohibited. This includes pre-paying for campsites where the proposed occupants have not arrived at the campsite.

The use of campsites within designated campgrounds of the park operating on a first-come, first-serve basis. Individuals may not "hold" sites for individuals or groups who are not on-site, when other campers have a desire to use the site. Large groups should consider using group sites wherein reservations insure space availability.

When the "NO VACANCY" or "FULL" sign is erected at developed campgrounds on the reservation system, camping is limited to reservation holders only.

The pavilion in the Cades Cove group camp is closed from I 0:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. Sleeping and camping is permitted in the group site but not within the pavilion.

Tent camping by students and chaperones is permitted at the Great Smoky Mountains Institute (Tremont) between June and August as part of a formal Institute program teaching Leave No Trace principles.

This is a short term seasonal educational program restricted to the grounds of the Institute.

Tent camping by education groups and researchers is permitted at the Purchase Knob Learning Center as part of the park's science education program. Prior approval must be obtained from the Learning Center staff.

Lodging facilities at the site are inadequate for the numbers of people involved in the program. Until such time as facilities can be developed, limited tent camping will be permitted.

(b)(4) See section 1.5 regarding generator use restrictions.

Sites may not be unattended for more than 24 hours.

Frontcountry Developed Horse Camps:
Parties using developed horse camps must have at least one horse with them.

Reservations through the National Park Reservation Service are required for the use of developed horse camps.

Length of stay shall not exceed fourteen (14) consecutive nights.

Horses must be restrained or under physical control at all times. Horses shall not be tied to trees. Provided stalls or hitchracks must be used. Portable stalls and corrals are prohibited in frontcountry developed horse camps.

The use of portable stalls or corrals would create disturbances (mud holes) within the designated sites, that would require some time to recover and rehabilitate. Allowing the use of portable stalls and corrals that could be repositioned many times has the potential to create a very large disturbed area.

Last updated: August 4, 2021

Park footer

Contact Info

Mailing Address:

107 Park Headquarters Road
Gatlinburg, TN 37738



Contact Us