Great Smoky Mountains National Park Institutes Backcountry Camping FeesBy Rocky Thompson on March 8th, 2012
During a public commenting period 230 people wrote in and two petitions were launched. The overwhelming sentiment was “keep the Smokys free.” Beginning in 2013 people who camp overnight in the backcountry will have to pay a per-day fee, likely $4 per night. The park won’t use the off-the-shelf software from recreation.gov to manage the fee use. It has issues with lead times and often campers and hikers in the Smoky Mountains are on a more spontaneous schedule. But I have to wonder, how much will it cost to develop something that will work for them? Even if they find it reasonably cheap, it’s going to cut deep into those $4-per-day fees. On the upside, all money raised is meant to go to improving backcountry services including increasing and extending hours of the ranger staff (so they can spend their time catching scofflaws who don’t pay the user fee).