The National Park Service issued the following backcountry regulations for anyone entering Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Park rangers have the authority to enforce backcountry regulations with penalties up to $5,000 and 6 months in jail.
- Camping is permitted only at designated backcountry campsites and shelters. If you want to overnight at a campsite or shelter in the backcountry, you must apply for a permit.
- You may not stay at any backcountry campsite for more than 3 consecutive nights. You may not stay consecutive nights at campsite 113 or at any shelter.
- Maximum party size is eight persons. Two parties affiliated with the same group may not stay in the same campsite or at the same shelter on the same night(s). Special permits may be issued for a few sites that accommodate parties of up to 12.
- Fires are only allowed at designated campsites and shelters and must be contained in a fire ring. Constructing new fire rings is prohibited. You may only burn wood that is dead and already on the ground. You may not cut any standing wood.
- Beginning 1 March 2015, only heat-treated firewood that is bundled and certified by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) or a state department of agriculture may be brought into the park. Campers may also collect dead and down wood found in the park for campfires. Certified heat-treated firewood is packaged and clearly marked with a state or federal seal. Heat-treated wood is available from a growing list of private businesses in communities around the park. Concessionaires at Cades Cove, Smokemont, and Elkmont will provide heat-treated wood for sale during their operating season (typically March through October at Smokemont and Elkmont and through December at Cades Cove). Visit Nature.org for a map of local stores and businesses that sell certified firewood.
- Building a fire in the fireplace of any historic structure or removing any parts of a historic structure, including brick or rock, is illegal.
- Backcountry permit holders may not use tents at shelters.
- Hammocks may only be used within designated backcountry campsites. They may not be used inside shelters and may not be attached to shelters in any way.
- All odorous items (e.g., food, trash, lip balm, toothpaste, stock feed, hay etc) must be hung on the bear cable system at each campsite or shelter.
- Human waste must be disposed of at least 100 feet from any campsite, shelter, water source or trail and must be buried in a hole at least 6 inches deep.
- All food, trash, clothing, equipment or personal items must be packed out.
- Burning food, trash or anything other than dead wood is prohibited.
- Carving into or defacing trees, signs, shelters or other backcountry features is illegal.
- Soap, even biodegradable soap, may not be used in any water sources. Bathing and washing dishes should be done well away from water sources and campsites. For example, do not bathe in a river, lake, etc. Remove the water from the source and move away from the water source to wash.
- No dogs or other pets are allowed on any park trails except the Gatlinburg Trail and the Oconaluftee River Trail. No dogs or other pets may be carried into the backcountry. See Paws in the Park Pet Policy.
- No motorized vehicles are allowed in the backcountry.
- No hunting is allowed anywhere in the park.
- Feeding, touching or teasing wildlife is prohibited. You may not willfully approach within 50 yards (150 feet) of elk or bears.
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“The information contained herein has been obtained through sources deemed reliable but cannot be guaranteed as to its accuracy. Any information of special interest should be obtained through independent verification.” Please visit the National Park Service website to verify.