Great Smoky Mountains National Park Increases Frontcountry Camping Fees

Cosby in Great Smoky Mountains - HeySmokies

Sunset at the Cosby campground entrance to Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park Increases Frontcountry Camping Fees.  The increase for frontcounty campgrounds and picnic pavilions became effective March 1, 2018. Over the past year, officials reviewed public comments, operating costs, and projected budget levels to determine the rate of the increase from a range of 10% to 25%.

Park officials report the rate increase is necessary to meet the rising operational costs, reduce a growing backlog of maintenance on park facilities, and begin much needed improvements. Park officials are also working to improve the efficiency of campground management by adding three campgrounds to the national reservation system through Recreation.gov.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park Superintendent Cassius Cash

Great Smoky Mountains National Park Superintendent Cassius Cash

Park visitors have long enjoyed camping and picnicking across the park in spectacular settings that offer space for relaxation and renewal,” said Superintendent Cassius Cash. “Maintaining and servicing these facilities in the mountains presents a unique set of challenges and, with increasing costs, these fee increases are necessary to ensure the continual care and operation of these special places.

The park operates nine open campgrounds, seven group campgrounds, six picnic pavilions, and five horse campgrounds. The current fees have not been increased since 2006 or earlier at any facility aside from Cataloochee Campground which had an increase in camping fees in 2011 when it was added to the reservation system. The park is also adding Abrams Creek, Balsam Mountain and Big Creek campgrounds to the National Recreation Reservation System to improve operational efficiency. Beginning in early March of 2018, all sites will require advanced reservation and payment prior to arrival in the park through Recreation.gov either online or by phone. By placing these three geographically remote campgrounds on the reservation system, the park can reduce campground operation costs by eliminating the need for staff time for the collection of fees. The reservation system also provides a more efficient process for visitors to secure an overnight stay without traveling to the remote locations to check for vacancies.

By law, the park retains 100 percent of the camping and pavilion fees. The fees are used primarily to operate these facilities. This includes maintaining buildings, grounds, and utilities, providing visitor services, and funding rehabilitation projects, such as road resurfacing and replacing picnic tables and grills. Some revenues are also used to maintain park infrastructure and other special projects beyond these sites. Over the years, the park has had to compensate for rising costs from inflation by reducing visitor services, delaying maintenance repairs and improvements, and, at many sites, shortening the length of the season when facilities are open, having a particularly adverse impact on visitors during the shoulder seasons.

The park completed a 2016 comparability study with campgrounds in the surrounding communities and the study revealed that, while camping fees in the park have remained mostly constant since 2006, campgrounds in the surrounding communities have continued to rise. Even with the fee increase, park campgrounds will remain among the least expensive in the area.

For more information about campground facilities in the park, please visit the park website at NPS.gov.

More Hey Smokies Features:

Christmas Cookie Recipe
Christmas Cookie Recipe...
Christmas Cookie Recipe. When the holidays arrive in the Great Smoky Mountains there are many HeySmokies sweet treat favorites but the tradition[Read More >>]
HeySmokies.com Raises Money To Rescue Orphaned Black Bears
HeySmokies.com Raises Money To Rescue Orphaned Black Bears...
HeySmokies.com raises money to rescue orphaned black bears. HeySmokies.com, a travel blog showcasing events in the Smoky Mountain region, and Ap[Read More >>]
Great Smoky Mountains Rainbow Falls Trail Reopens
Great Smoky Mountains Rainbow Falls Trail Reopens...
Great Smoky Mountains Rainbow Falls Trail Reopens. After two diligent work seasons, the Rainbow Falls Trail has reopened!  From May through Nove[Read More >>]
Cades Cove Stargazing Event
Cades Cove Stargazing Event...
Cades Cove Stargazing Event Saturday, November 17, 2018 at 5:30 p.m. Great Smoky Mountains National Park, in cooperation with the Smoky Mountain[Read More >>]
Ornaments of Joy Event
Ornaments of Joy Event...
Ornaments of Joy event set to benefit Appalachian Bear Rescue. The event will be held Saturday, November 17, 2018. Ornaments of Joy is spons[Read More >>]
Four Great Smoky Mountain Real Estate Tips
Four Great Smoky Mountain Real Estate Tips...
Four Great Smoky Mountain Real Estate Tips What You Need to Know Before Buying a House in the Smoky Mountains Area With more than 11 million p[Read More >>]
Great Smoky Mountains National Park Foothills Parkway Hiking Event
Great Smoky Mountains National Park Foothills Parkway Hiking Event...
Great Smoky Mountains National Park Foothills Parkway Hiking Event. Great Smoky Mountains National Park invites the public to walk approximately[Read More >>]
29th Annual Gatlinburg Chili Cook Off
29th Annual Gatlinburg Chili Cook Off...
29th Annual Gatlinburg Chili Cook Off Wednesday, November 7, 2018. Grab yourself a bowl off red at 715 Parkway in Gatlinburg from 5 p.m. to 8 p.[Read More >>]
Great Smoky Mountains National Park Reopens Popular Trails
Great Smoky Mountains National Park Reopens Popular Trails...
Great Smoky Mountains National Park Reopens Popular Trails! Bullhead Trail and Sugarland Mountain Trail are set to reopen after extensive [Read More >>]
Great Smoky Mountains Foothills Parkway Opens
Great Smoky Mountains Foothills Parkway Opens...
Great Smoky Mountains Foothills Parkway Opens. Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials announce the long-awaited section of the Foothills [Read More >>]
Abrams Falls Trail
Abrams Falls Trail...
Abrams Falls Trail has it all! The 20-foot Abrams Falls is an amazing natural wonder and a rewarding rewarding hike! The five-mile round-trip Ab[Read More >>]
5th Annual Wears Valley Fall Festival
5th Annual Wears Valley Fall Festival...
5th Annual Wears Valley Fall Festival is fun for the entire family! Sixteen acres of family fun including crafters, storytelling, interactive ac[Read More >>]
Great Smoky Mountains Purchase Knob Stargazing Event
Great Smoky Mountains Purchase Knob Stargazing Event...
Great Smoky Mountains Purchase Knob stargazing event. Great Smoky Mountains National Park will host a stargazing event at the Appalachian High[Read More >>]
Bearly 5K Run/Walk
Bearly 5K Run/Walk...
Bearly 5K Run/Walk is your chance to get moving and help save orphaned black bear cubs! Mark your calendars for Saturday, October 27, 2018. Thi[Read More >>]
Giant Hogweed Invades Smoky Mountain Region
Giant Hogweed Invades Smoky Mountain Region...
Giant Hogweed Invades Smoky Mountain Region. Giant Hogweed looms large on it's march toward the Smokies. Giant Hogweed can reach up to 20-feet i[Read More >>]
Great Smoky Mountains Farm Museum Fall Harvest Celebration
Great Smoky Mountains Farm Museum Fall Harvest Celebration...
Great Smoky Mountains Farm Museum Fall Harvest Celebration. The annual Mountain Life Festival at the Mountain Farm Museum in Great Smoky Mountai[Read More >>]
Great Smoky Mountains Hosts Stargazing Event
Great Smoky Mountains Hosts Stargazing Event...
Great Smoky Mountains Hosts Stargazing Event. Great Smoky Mountains National Park, in cooperation with the Smoky Mountain Astronomical Society, [Read More >>]
Smoky Mountain Luxury Glamping
Smoky Mountain Luxury Glamping...
Smoky Mountain Luxury Glamping. Camping in luxury, Glamping, comes to the Smokies Glamping (short for glamorous camping) is the latest trend in[Read More >>]
Trails Forever Volunteers Needed
Trails Forever Volunteers Needed...
Trails Forever Volunteers Needed A group of dedicated volunteers has spent the last five years making much needed trail improvements in the Gre[Read More >>]
Eighth Annual Bear Necessities Event
Eighth Annual Bear Necessities Event...
Eighth annual Bear Necessities event on Sunday, September 23, 2018 will be a night to remember. The event will be held in Gatlinb[Read More >>]