|Backcountry||Be Bear Aware||Campgrounds|
|Emergency Services||Fishing Guide||Group Camping||Horse Camp|
Great Smoky Mountain camping is primitive by design. Ten campgrounds operate in the Park. Besides sites nestled in the woods and along rivers, all campgrounds provide cold running water and flush toilets. No hook-ups are available in the Park. Two campgrounds, Cades Cove and Smokemont, will remain open all winter. Most campgrounds are open from early spring through the first weekend in November. Fees range from $12.00 - $20.00 per night depending on the campground and time of year.
Sites at Cades Cove, Elkmont, and Smokemont may be reserved for the period May 15 to October 31 through the National Park Service Reservation Service at 1-800-365-2267 or on-line. Reservations can be made up to five months in advance, depending on the date of stay. The remaining seven campgrounds are first-come, first-served only.
|Campground||Open||Close||Sites||Elevation||Water||Fire Grills||Tables||Flush Toilets||Fee|
|Abrams Creek||Spring||beg Nov||16||1,125 ft||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||$12.00|
|Balsam Mountain||Spring||mid Oct||46||5,310 ft||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||$14.00|
|Big Creek||Spring||beg Nov
|Cades Cove||All Year||159||1,807 ft||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||$14.00 / $17.00|
|Cataloochee||Spring||beg Nov||27||2,610 ft||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||$12.00|
|Cosby||Spring||beg Nov||175||2,459 ft||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||$14.00|
|Deep Creek||Spring||beg Nov||92||1,800 ft||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||$14.00|
|Elkmont||Spring||mid Nov||220||2,150 ft||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||$14.00 / $20.00|
|Look Rock||Spring||beg Nov||92||2,600 ft||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||$14.00|
|Smokemont||All Year||142||2,198 ft||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||$14.00 / $17.00|
Additional Camping Information
Camping in bear country necessitates the proper storage of food, and leave no trace principles need to be followed to care for the park. All backcountry water should be treated before drinking. The frontcountry campground, located at an elevation of 1807', offers 159 sites, two of which are wheelchair accessible. Sites can accommodate trailers up to 35' or motorhomes up to 40'. There are no hook-ups. 13x13' tent pads can accommodate two tents and six people.
No more than six people may occupy a site. Two tents or one RV and one tent are allowed per site. The maximum stay is seven days during summer and fall and 14 days during winter and spring.
All drive in horse camps are closed for the winter.
Pets are allowed in campgrounds as long as they are restrained on a leash or otherwise confined. Pets are not allowed on most trails in the national park.
The park has seven areas where groups may camp. These areas are listed below, along with the operation dates and numbers to call for information. They are open only during the months listed. You must have reservations to stay at these areas. These areas will accommodate tents only. Trailers, campers, or other wheeled units are not permitted. Also be aware that showers and electric hookups are not available.
The minimum party size is eight, and the maximum length of stay is seven nights in these areas. Check out time is noon. You are welcome to call the ranger station to obtain site-specific information, but be aware that the ranger stations are field offices and are not staffed during all hours!
All group campsites require reservations. To make reservations, you must call the National Park Reservation Service at: 800-365-2267
Camping dates may be reserved up to five months in advance, and payment is required at the time the reservation is made.
|Campground||Phone #||Open||Close||Sites||Max # of people||Fee|
|Big Creek||828-486-5910||mid Mar||beg Nov||1||25||$ 40.00|
|Cades Cove||800-365-2267||mid Mar||beg Nov||2||20||$ 33.00|
|Cades Cove||800-365-2267||mid Mar||beg Nov||1||30||$ 48.00|
|Cades Cove||800-365-2267||mid Mar||beg Nov||1 (pavilion)||30||$ 63.00|
|Cataloochee||828-497-1930||mid Mar||beg Nov||3||25||$ 30.00|
|Cosby||423-487-2683||mid Mar||beg Nov||3||20||$ 20.00|
|Deep Creek||828-488-3184||beg Apr||beg Nov||3||20||$ 30.00|
|Elkmont||800-365-2267||mid Mar||beg Nov||1||12||$ 23.00|
|Elkmont||800-365-2267||mid Mar||beg Nov||1||15||$ 23.00|
|Elkmont||800-365-2267||mid Mar||beg Nov||2||20||$ 33.00|
|Elkmont||800-365-2267||mid Mar||beg Nov||1||30||$ 48.00|
|Smokemont||800-365-2267||mid Mar||beg Nov||1||15||$ 23.00|
|Smokemont||800-365-2267||mid Mar||beg Nov||2||20||$ 33.00|
Backcountry sites, including shelters along the Appalachian Trail are quite popular. All backcountry campers need a free backcountry permit. They are available at most ranger stations and visitor centers. One can be obtained at a self-registration station outside of the Cades Cove campground office. Anyone staying overnight in the backcountry must camp in a designated site or shelter. Over 100 sites and shelters are located in the park. Campers need reservations to stay in all 16 shelters and at 14 other sites. To reserve a site or shelter, call: 865-436-1297 or 865-436-1231 between 8:00 am and 6:00 pm The reservation office is open seven days a week during business hours.
To obtain an official backcountry map which lists all of the trails, regulations, and campsite, stop at any park visitor center.
Be prepared before heading into the backcountry. Get a local weather forecast and be aware of the local climate. Proper clothing, food, water, and equipment are all musts. Proper food storage and environmental use are also required.
Visitors with their own horses may stay in the auto access Anthony Creek horse camp from late March through early November. This camp, with a capacity of 12 horses and people, requires reservations, which can be made through the national camping reservation number. The phone number is 1-800-365-2267. Some backcountry sites also accommodate horses.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park Rangers provide Emergency Medical services throughout the Park. They cooperate with local ambulance services and medical helicopters for transportation and advanced life support. Most law enforcement rangers are trained and equipped at the basic Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) level. Some are trained as Park Medics who work under the direction of Dr. Christopher Brooks at the University of Tennessee Medical Center and can administer medications. Many rangers are also trained in search management and in technical rescue and search techniques.
Though some medical emergencies will occur as an illness, most injuries are preventable. It is important that you use common sense while visiting the Park because some activities can be hazardous. Visitors should dress properly for the backcountry visits, including shoes and equipment, watch your footing on trails, avoid swift water, wear helmets when bicycling and seat belts when driving. Rangers rarely use helicopters or vehicles in the backcountry so it will take a while before EMTs can respond to the scene. It takes a long time and lots of people to carry someone out from the backcountry. It is better to be careful in the first place.
How does one get help in the backcountry? Many people today carry cell phones but coverage in the Park is spotty. If you do report an emergency by phone, it is important that you know the location and provide the best description of the situation as possible.
Search and Rescue
Park Rangers in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park are involved in a great number of search and rescue operations each year. Most of the situations are "carry-outs." However, these Rangers are also trained in skills, such as swiftwater rescue, vertical cave rescue, tracking , and high and low angle rescue techniques where ropes and other specialized gear are used to remove injured persons from precarious spots.
Most of the time reports about injured or lost persons come from other park visitors or people with the victim. At that point, the Ranger must determine an appropriate course of action to be followed. Usually a Ranger who is either an EMT or Park Medic is sent in to the backcountry to do a first-hand assessment of the situation and provide initial treatment. The Ranger then relays by radio information, such as the equipment and personnel expected to be needed, along with the present condition of the victim to the other Rangers who are making preparations for the "carry-out" or technical rescue. The response team of Rangers with the requested equipment starts up the trail to the injured person. It can take anywhere from 30 minutes to four hours for this team to reach the victim depending on the location of the injured person in the backcountry.
The rescue team can include anywhere from six to 18 Rangers depending on the conditions, such as time of day, terrain, weather, and distance to the nearest trailhead. The patient, once at the road, is transferred to a waiting ambulance or helicopter and transported to a local hospital.
How you can Help
First, don't become a statistic! If you plan a trip to the park, be cautious of your surroundings. Very few of the Search and Rescue (SAR) incidents involve illness, and most accidents are preventable! If you plan to backpack, watch your footing and be familiar with the regulations and suggestions the staff makes for these trips. If you are around one of the many streams in the park, be aware that rainfall higher in the mountains can come downstream quickly causing the river to rise suddenly. Don't become stranded on the other side of the creek, or worse on a rock or in the stream itself. Be cautious of footing when crossing streams as the rocks can be very slippery. It is best to avoid swift water or climbing around the waterfalls altogether. This is especially important when carrying a backpack. Watch your footing on trails. Always wear helmets when bicycling and seat belts when driving.
To help offset the cost of providing search and rescue services, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park has established a Search and Rescue Fund. This fund is used exclusively for the purchase of SAR equipment, emergency medical equipment, and providing advanced training to Park Ranger Search and Rescue personnel. If you would like to help the park continue to provide these much needed services send your tax-deductible donation to:
Great Smoky Mountain National Park
Search and Rescue Fund
107 Park Headquarters Road
Gatlinburg, Tennessee 37738
Memorial donations are also welcomed. For further information, contact the Chief Ranger's Office at the above address or call 865-436-1225.
Fishing is permitted year-round in the park, but Anglers 13 years and older (16 and older in North Carolina) need a valid Tennessee or North Carolina fishing license to fish in the Park. The Park does not sell licenses. Check with local chambers of commerce for purchase information. No trout stamp is needed. Fishing is permitted year-round in open waters, from 30 minutes before sunrise to 30 minutes after sunset. Stop by a park visitor center or ranger station to get a full copy of the regulations.
Daily possession limits
Any combination of rainbow trout, brown trout, smallmouth bass totaling - 5
Rockbass - 20
It is illegal to possess brook trout
A person must stop fishing once reaching the limit.
Rainbow and brown trout: 7inches minimum
Smallmouth bass: 7inches minimum
Rockbass: no minimum
All brook trout and any fish below the minimum must be immediately returned to the water.
Lures, bait, and equipment
Only one hand-held rod may be used
Single hook only
Bait must be fully artificial
Liquid scents are prohibited
All equipment is subject to inspection by authorized Park staff
A few words about brook trout and other fish
Brook trout are the only trout native to the Smokies. Heavy logging during the early 1900's eliminated the fish from half its range. Brown trout and rainbow trout, stocked in the mid 1900's, out competed the brook trout, further limiting its range. Restoring the brook trout to its native range is a primary objective. The goal of the brook trout restoration program is to foster a self- sustaining natural population able to support angling pressure. Streams populated only by brook trout are closed to help this be a future reality.
In total 40 species of fish including darters, dace, suckers, bass, shiners, and trout populate the Smokies' streams. Salamanders, crayfish, aquatic insects, and algae are other important components of local aquatic ecosystems.
Black bears in the Park are wild and their behavior is sometimes unpredictable. Although extremely rare, attacks on humans have occurred, inflicting serious injuries and death. Treat all bear encounters with extreme caution and follow these guidelines.
Encounters Along the Trail
Remain watchful. If you see a bear at a distance do not approach it. If your presence causes the bear to change its behavior (stops feeding, changes its travel direction, watches you, etc.) - YOU'RE TOO CLOSE.
Being too close may also promote aggressive behavior from the bear such as running toward you, making loud noises, or swatting the ground. The bear is demanding more space. Don't run but slowly back away watching the bear. Try to increase the distance between you and the bear. The bear will probably do the same.
If a bear persistently follows or approaches you, typically without vocalizing, or paw swatting, try changing your direction. If the bear continues to follow you, stand your ground. If the bear gets closer, begin talking loudly or shouting at it. Act aggressively and try to intimidate the bear.
Act together as a group if you have companions. Make yourselves look as large as possible (for example move to higher ground). Throw non-food objects such as rocks at the bear. Use a deterrent such as a stout stick if you have one. Don't run and don't turn away from the bear.
Don't leave food for the bear; this encourages further problems. Most injuries from black bear attacks are minor and result from a bear attempting to get at people's food. If the bear's behavior indicates that it is after your food and you're physically attacked, separate yourself from the food and slowly back away.
If the bear shows no interest in your food and you're physically attacked, fight back aggressively with any available object -- the bear may consider you as prey! Help protect others, report all bear incidents to a park ranger immediately! Above all, keep your distance from bears!
Encounters in Camp
The best way to avoid bears is to not attract them. Keep cooking and sleeping areas separate. Keep tents and sleeping bags free of food odors; do not store food, garbage or other attractants (i.e., toothpaste, soap, etc.) in them.
A clean camp is essential to reducing problems. Pack out all food and litter; don't bury it or try to burn anything. Proper food storage is required by regulation. Secure all food and other attractants at night or when not in use. Where food storage devices are present, use them. Otherwise: Place all odorous items in your pack.
Select two trees 10-20 feet apart with limbs 15 feet high. Using a rock as weight, toss a rope over a limb on the first tree and tie one end to the pack. Repeat this process with the second tree. Raise the pack about six feet via the first rope and tie it off. Then pull the second rope until the pack is up at least 10 feet high and evenly spaced; it must be four feet or more from the nearest limb.
Garbage Kills Bears!
Activities for Children
Activity & Calendar Page
Address, Email & Phone Guide
Backcountry Camping Guide
Brochures, Maps, Written Info
Emergency Medical Services
Horse Riding Information
Jobs, SCA, Volunteer Positions
Newfound Gap Road
Roaring Fork Motor Trail
Copyright © 1995 - 2007 Hillclimb Media
Click Here to obtain Advertising Information on this Page
This site is in no way associated with the United States Government, the Department of the Interior or the National Park Service