New Smokies backcountry fees start Wednesday

3:22 PM, Feb 13, 2013   |    comments
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New backcountry camping fees start Wednesday in the Great Smoky Mountains, but a new website makes reservations easier for campers.

After two years of researching the idea, park officials decided to implement a $4 dollar fee per day per person for backcountry campers.

That money will be used to off-set the cost of a brand new reservation website, and two new rangers who will solely focus on taking care of the backcountry.

Also, the backcountry office at the Sugarland Visitors Center will now be staffed from 8-5, seven days a week.

"Take a look at our new website and look at all our information. It provides a lot of great trip planning advice on things you should know before heading out on a backpacking adventure. Most of our users backpack for 2 to 3 nights and it's a great way to experience the Smokies like you never have before," said Dana Soehn, a Park Spokeswoman.

"I hope people see it as a benefit to the natural resource that we have here at the park. It will help provide for better staffing and convenience for the customer," said Park Ranger Nick Yarnell.

There was opposition over the new backcountry fee, but the park hopes overall the new change will be welcomed, especially with the new upgraded system and new employees, making it easier to make a reservation.

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