Starting early next year, backcountry campers will see some changes in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, including a new fee.
Last March, the National Park Service approved the park's proposal to begin collecting fees for use of backcountry campsites and shelters, which includes a $4 per person per night fee for backcountry camping.
The money collected will provide increased customer service for backcountry trip planning, reservations, permits and the backcountry experience
Reservations and permits will be obtained through an online reservation system, which will be available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
"It is anticipated the online reservation and permit system will be available to the public within the first few months of 2013," says Superintendent Dale Ditmanson." We will provide notification of a specific implementation date later this year."
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.
For more information about the changes, please visit the Park's website at www.nps.gov/grsm and follow the Management link on the left side of the page or call the Park's Public Information Office at 865-436-1207.
For general backcountry information or backcountry reservations, call the Backcountry Office at 865-436-1297.