Great Smoky Mountains National Park Bans Backcountry Campfires

Smoky Mountain campfire ban in effect.

Smoky Mountain backcountry campfire ban in effect.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park bans backcountry campfires. Park officials have placed the ban due to recent drought like conditions in the mountains and surrounding area. These conditions sharply increase the chances for wildfires starting and spreading. Backcountry visitors should expect the ban to remain in place until conditions change.

Only people enjoying trail shelters and backcountry campsites will be affected by this ban for now. Front country camp sites like Cades Cove, Cosby, Elkmont, and Smokemont are still allowed to use the fire rings at campsites. Picnickers can continue to enjoy charcoal grills for now also. Visitors are advised to use extreme caution with fire and always be sure and use water to extinguish them. The use of backpacking stoves with pre-packaged gas canisters is currently still allowed in the backcountry.

The park is experiencing abnormally dry and moderate drought conditions throughout the park,” said Superintendent Cassius Cash. “With little rain and hot, dry conditions predicted over the next week, it is imperative that we reduce the risk of human-caused wildfires.

Finding  drinking water may also be difficult for hikers and backpackers. Some locations that still have running springs have significantly reduced water flow. If flowing, a quart – sized bottle may take over five minutes to fill. The water sources at campsites 5, 16, 26  and Mollies Ridge Shelter are currently bone dry.

When entering the backcountry use your head and plan your route to maximize available water sources whenever possible. If you know you are heading into a dry area carry as much extra water as you can. Unseasonably high temperatures continue to dry out the region and heat stroke is a real possibility.

Symptoms of Heat Stroke

  • Throbbing headache.
  • Dizziness and light-headedness.
  • Lack of sweating despite the heat.
  • Red, hot, and dry skin.
  • Muscle weakness or cramps.
  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • Rapid heartbeat, which may be either strong or weak.
  • Rapid, shallow breathing
Source material AMA and GSMNP

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