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View Full Version : Camping on the Smoky rivers??


Ryano
03-23-2008, 06:41 PM
Is it illegal to camp by the rivers in the Smokies?? Me and my buddies are students and dont really have the money to rent a cabin, or even a guide. We live to far away to just make a day's trip of it and probably need to stay. Our ideal situation would be to get there on a Friday and hike to a remote spot and set up camp and fish the area's waters. Is this possible, and if so, is it dangerous because of bears?? Thanks for all the help guys..

Ryan

pineman19
03-23-2008, 06:58 PM
Below is a link to the GSMNP information on camping in the Park.


http://www.nps.gov/grsm/planyourvisit/carcamping.htm

sammcdonald
03-23-2008, 07:46 PM
as long as you get your permit and camp only in a designated site you are good....don't be like the 4 that went into rainbow cave and had to be rescued....the park likes regs followed. permit is free, some must be reserved, but do not go backcountry without getting permits.......the citations can be very unpleasant and will follow you.
further back country info 865-436-1291
sam

Ryano
03-24-2008, 07:23 PM
Ok, thanks for all the useful information guys. I have a few more questions though.. I was looking into the campground maps and found that the closest place for me to get a permit would be at the Sugarlands Office. Okay, if I go there and get a permit, is this where I will camp?? Or do I have the option of going anywhere, as long as it is in the grounds? And when they consider it "back-country", I understand that there is still boundaries to camp, but how close can I get to the river? And will there be rangers walking around at nights checking on us to make sure we are fine or are we just kinda alone?? I am sorry for all the questions, but I looked on the site and couldnt find the answer to some of the things I really wanted to know. Thanks in advance..

Ryan

Byron Begley
03-24-2008, 08:10 PM
Ryano,

You have many options. You can camp at Elkmont or Smokemont Campgrounds for a fee but you will be near the rivers or right on them. You can camp at Cataloochee and be on that stream. These are developed campgrounds in the Park. Cades Cove is close to some streams. The backcountry offers many opportunities to camp on a stream. They are everywhere in this 1/2 million acre park. Send me an e-mail and I'll send you a free map of the Park. Please include your mailing address. Pineman gave you a link that will probably answer your questions. There is not enough room here to list all of the on-stream backcountry sites. The GSMNP is full of them. You could start with the map or the website and if you have any specific questions call the shop and we will try to answer them. You can get a backcountry permit and camp in any backcountry site in the Park. Permits are available at other locations as well. I have seen very few rangers or people in the backcountry sites that I use. Sometimes we are the only people there. It depends on the time of year of course and the campsite.

Byron

sammcdonald
03-24-2008, 10:40 PM
also www.nps.gov/grsm will give you info, a small map, and regs.....
may have duplicated info...but........if you go back country, get your FREE permit. there are more rangers this year and the emphasis is on enforcement.

PeteCz
03-24-2008, 11:49 PM
Ryan, if you shoot me your e-mail, I will send you an excel spreadsheet that lists about 46 backcountry campsites that are very near the major streams in the park. It lists the trail you would use to get there, the distance, approximate elevation gain and estimated time to hike it with a pack (at least its an estimate by/for an old guy, you could probably hike there faster...)

Here is a glimpse of it:
http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3285/2320468814_bb6909abbc.jpg

My suggestion if you are coming through the Gatlinburg side of the park would be to go to the Sugarlands center, get a permit and go to backcountry campsite #24 above Elkmont. It is an "easy" 4.2 mile hike and puts you in the middle of some great water and scenery.

Campsite 24 is one of a handful of sites that require a reservation. Here's what you need to do:
If your itinerary includes a reserved site or any shelter, you must call the Backcountry Reservation Office at (865) 436-1231 to make reservations. The Backcountry Reservation Office is open from 8:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. daily. You may make reservations up to one month in advance of the first day of your trip.

Whenever folks ask for opinions about where to camp, #24 seems to surface more than just about any other.

As far as some of your other questions...Typically a backcountry campsite will have a limited number of sites that you can pitch a tent on. They are not all obvious and are sometimes a small distance away from each other. Other times that are all together. Most of the better pads will have a fire ring in place, so use one of them (don't create a new one). There will be rangers out an about. Its hard to tell when or where you will see one, but make sure you have your fishing license and a backcountry permit with you, and you will be fine. Also, make sure that you keep all of your food in ziploc (or better) bags and that you hoist your backpack up using the bear cables at each site. You clip your backpacks to the d ring and hoist it up in the air. Also make sure you don't have any food in your tent or on you, and wash well before going to sleep and you won't have any issues with bears. There are some other threads on here that talk about bears, but as long as you use common sense you will be fine. Over 8 million folks visit the park each year and only one person has ever been killed by a bear in the park. You are in much more danger of slipping and falling in the stream than being attacked by a bear...

That was probably more info than you wanted...

Mac
03-25-2008, 07:38 AM
Hey Pete, being a old guy myself your spreadsheet looks interesting. Wonder if I could get a copy.

PeteCz
03-25-2008, 10:28 AM
Hey Pete, being a old guy myself your spreadsheet looks interesting. Wonder if I could get a copy.

Mac, I've had a few folks ask for this, so I've put it up on website, so anyone can grab it. Here is the link: http://webpages.charter.net/petecz/Fishing.html

There is an explanation of what the columns means and how I came to some of my conclusions. I hope you enjoy it.

Flying Trout
03-25-2008, 12:21 PM
Pete, Thank you so much for making your spreadsheet available. I believe a lot of us will be using your spreadsheet for future plans. I plan on taking my first backcountry trips this spring and summer. I just have to get a sleeping bag and I think I'll have anything. I look forward to some pics of woodworking on your website.

Aaron871
03-25-2008, 06:46 PM
Mac, I've had a few folks ask for this, so I've put it up on website, so anyone can grab it. Here is the link: http://webpages.charter.net/petecz/Fishing.html

There is an explanation of what the columns means and how I came to some of my conclusions. I hope you enjoy it.


Thanks.............

Ryano
03-25-2008, 07:57 PM
Pete,
Wow.. That was so much help! I still have a few questions though I was wondering about.. I was just going send you a pm but it said it was disabled. Anybody know how to get it to work??

snaildarter
03-25-2008, 09:10 PM
@ Ryano: PM's are disabled.

@ PeteCz: That spreadsheet is a wonderful resource! Thank you much.

PeteCz
03-25-2008, 09:11 PM
The PM function was disabled last year after some issues....

Send your questions to me at petecz at charter.net, or post them here, I'd be happy to help. I have followed the conversations on this board for quite sometime and have really benefited from it. Many folks much smarter than me have shared their knowledge quite freely, so I am more than happy to help where I can...

tire guy
03-25-2008, 10:56 PM
Your spead sheet is excellant. Thanks for the effort and for sharing.

Ryano
03-25-2008, 11:24 PM
Where would be a good spot to go if we didnt have reservations?? We was really hoping to get to go not this weekend, but next. I believe the sheet said that you needed reservations in advance no less than a month.. :frown:

PeteCz
03-26-2008, 08:09 AM
I believe the sheet said that you needed reservations in advance no less than a month.. :frown:

Actually its the other way around, you can't make reservations for more than a month in advance:
If your itinerary includes a reserved site or any shelter, you must call the Backcountry Reservation Office at (865) 436-1231 to make reservations. The Backcountry Reservation Office is open from 8:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. daily. You may make reservations up to one month in advance of the first day of your trip.

I doubt that any/many of the reservation-only sites have filled up for next weekend. Give the number a call and see.

If you would prefer not to have reservations then campsite #30 may be the way to go. Its a first-come-first-to-camp campsite, that's about 2 miles past #24 (6.2 miles from the Elkmont TH)

Ryano
03-27-2008, 05:35 PM
Ya, I actually talked to a women from LRO yesterday and that is what she suggested. I guess we will make the "easy" walk to camp #30. How is the fishing around this campsite?? Any good places around it we should try and hit while we are there? I guess our plan is to get to the mountains around 2 or 3 next friday and start the walk. We should have camp set before dark and be ready for fishing on saturday and sunday..

Ryan

Rog 1
03-27-2008, 05:46 PM
You will pass a lot of great water getting to 30....for such a short trip I would quit at 24....I would get up Sat. Morning and start fishing on Fish Camp Prong....hike up to where the trail narrows and start fishing....the stretch from the foot bridge back up to camp can be productive.....Sunday morning you can fish above the campsite and may hit some brookies.....while in camp also dabble in Rough Creek....usually can catch a couple of browns in some of the bigger pools....some nice water along the LR trail heading up....after you cross the Huskey Gap bridge and the trail comes back to the river there are some great dry fly runs along the road....just pick your spot and go for it...let us know how you do....

Ryano
03-27-2008, 06:10 PM
Appreciate the advice! We were just really wanting to get away.. From everybody hopefully! lol.. Thats kinda the reason for going on up to 30. We will definately give those spots a try. This is our first trip to the smokies and I am really starting to get excited.. Just one week!

Ryan