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Great Smoky Mountains Superintendent Dale A. Ditmanson has announced that the Park's proposal to begin collecting for the use of the Park's backcountry campsites and shelters has been approved by the National Park Service. This approval clears the way for the Park to move forward with developing an on line system to collect fees beginning in 2013 for reserving and use of the Park's backcountry by overnight hikers and equestrians.
The Park developed the plan in order to improve its trip-planning and reservation services to users and to expand its backcountry Ranger presence to better protect park resources through enforcement of food-storage and other regulations and improved visitor education regarding Leave-No-Trace principles.
"There was also a significant amount of concern about our initial plan to utilize the same computerized federal reservation system, www.recreation.gov that virtually all national parks use to reserve drive-in sites in front country campgrounds. We acknowledge that some of the policies, such as the lead time for making reservations and cancellations, are not a good fit for more spontaneous backcountry users. We will not use that system unless we are convinced that it can provide the level of service we want to offer, and are exploring the alternative of developing a stand-alone software program tailored specifically to the Smokies. The system developed will also need to be practicable for Appalachian Trail thru hikers whose itineraries evolve from day-to-day."
Last updated: April 14, 2015