Press release is somewhat vague. Says system goes into effect on Feb 13 (should have been 14th for this "sweetheart deal"), yet system isn't up to make a reservation up to 30 days in advance. Glad I got the kids out on an overnighter before this happened so at least I can say they went when it was still free. I was really hoping that there would be a yearly fee, or some conseccion for the frequent user, but it looks like that is also a big NO.
Release Date: Immediate
Contact: Dana Soehn, Dana_Soehn@nps.gov
Phone number: 865-436-1207
Date: January 22, 2013
Park Announces Implementation of Backcountry Changes
Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials announced today that changes to its current backcountry reservation and permitting process will take effect on February 13, 2013. As reported last March, the National Park Service approved the Park�s proposal to begin collecting fees for use of the Park�s backcountry campsites and shelters. The changes include a $4 per person, per night fee for backcountry camping. The fee will be used to provide increased customer service for backcountry trip planning, reservations, permits and the backcountry experience.
A park-specific reservation and permit system, to which users will have 24/7 access, will allow backcountry campers to make reservations and obtain permits online from anywhere internet access is available. 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, the Park will 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.
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. On February 13, backcountry reservations and permits will be available at www.smokiespermits.nps.gov.
Public Affairs Office
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
(865) 436-1203 office
(865) 210-1983 cell
(865) 436-1204 (fax)