Officials with the Great Smoky Mountains National Park have announced fee increases at frontcountry campgrounds and picnic pavilions, starting on March 1, 2018.
The increases range from 10 to 15 percent, which average out to about $3 to $5, depending on the area. For example, a camping spot in Cades Cove or Elkmont will go from $20 to $25 in peak season. (see full fee increase chart below or here.)
Officials said the rate increases are necessary to meet the rising costs of operations, reduce a backlog of maintenance requirements on park facilities, and initiate needed improvements.
The park operates nine open campgrounds, seven group campgrounds, six picnic pavilions, and five horse campgrounds, and at most of them, fees have not risen since at least 2006.
Park officials are also improving the efficiency of campground management by adding three campgrounds to the national reservation system through Recreation.gov.
“Park visitors have long enjoyed camping and picnicking across the park in spectacular settings that offer space for relaxation and renewal,” said Superintendent Cassius Cash. “Maintaining and servicing these facilities in the mountains presents a unique set of challenges and, with increasing costs, these fee increases are necessary to ensure the continual care and operation of these special places.”
The park will also add three campgrounds--- Abrams Creek, Balsam Mountain and Big Creek. Visitors will be required to reserve and pay for spaces in advance at these remote campgrounds, and the park will not have to staff workers to collect the fees.