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Great Smoky Mountains Park Rules and Regulations

  • While camping you must have a “backcountry permit”
  • Designated sites & shelters are available for campers
  • Only allowed to stay 3 nights at a shelter or site
  • Maximum of 8 people in a party
  • Open fires are banned except at designated sites. Use of only dead wood is allowed
  • Tents & shelters are prohibited
  • When food is not being consumed or transported, it must be suspended in the air at least 10ft high & 4ft from the tree trunk
  • Toilet use must be at least 100ft from water source & campsite. Must also be buried 6in below the surface
  • ALL trash must be taken out
  • DO NOT cut or carve any trees. ALL plants, wildlife, natural & historic features are protected by law
  • DO NOT wash dishes of bathe in stream. Polluting the water is prohibited
  • Pets, motorized vehicles & bikes are not permitted in the backcountry
  • Hunting is forbidden
  • Feeding and/or harassing the wildlife is also forbidden

Campground Regulations

Food Storage
All food and equipment used to prepare and store food (stoves, pots, coolers, etc.) must be kept sealed in a vehicle (preferably the trunk) or in a camping unit constructed of solid, non-pliable material or as otherwise directed at all times when not in use. If your vehicle does not have a trunk for storing food and equipment, the following campgrounds have food storage lockers: Balsam Mountain, Big Creek, Cades Cove, Cataloochee, Cosby, Deep Creek, Elkmont, and Smokemont.

Dispose of garbage promptly in dumpsters provided. Unattended or improperly stored coolers and food may be impounded by campground staff and stored at the campground office. This regulation will be strictly enforced and violators are subject to fines.

You must register and pay a fee. Check in at the campground office or follow instructions on the Pay Station sign. Checkout or re-register by noon.

Family campgrounds are operated on a first-come, first–served basis, except that family sites at Cades Cove, Cosby, Elkmont and Smokemont can be reserved in advance for the period May 15 – October 31. Group sites require a reservation. Reservations can be made be calling 1-877-444-6777 or by visiting

Length of Stay
Your stay is limited to seven consecutive days from May 15-Oct 31. A 14-consecutive-day limit applies from Nov. 1-May 14.

You may have up to six people per campsite.

No more than two motor vehicles or one vehicle with trailer are allowed per campsite. Please keep wheels, including trailer wheels and guest cars, on the pavement. Park only in designated spaces.

All tents must be pitched on the pad, where provided.

Fires and Wood Gathering
Campfires are permitted only in fire grates. You may collect wood only if it is on the ground and dead. Firewood from the states of Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and the Canadian provinces of Ontario and Quebec can not be brought into the national park. Also firewood from Knox and Loudon counties in the state of Tennessee can not be brought into the national park. The United States Department of Agriculture has quarantined firewood from these states to prevent the spread of highly destructive insects that may be living in the wood.

Pets are allowed in the campground but must be confined or on a leash (6′ maximum). Pets are not allowed on trails and should not be left unattended in the campground or your car. Please prevent excessive barking and properly dispose of pet waste.

Waste Water
Dish water and bath water must be drained at utility sinks or dump stations, not on the ground. Do not wash or bathe in streams or at water fountains. RV sewage should be drained only at a dump station. Showers and utility hookups are not available in the park. Showers may be available in nearby towns.

Quiet Hours and Generators
Quiet hours are in effect from 10 pm to 6 am. Generator use is prohibited from 8 pm to 8 am. Generator use and battery charging by engine idling is prohibited in generator free areas. During quiet hours, noise-producing equipment should be turned off and entry to the campground is limited to registered campers.

Alcohol is permitted in campgrounds and picnic areas, provided the person in possession is at least 21 years old.

Bicycles, Inline Skates and Skateboards
Bicycle riders must comply with all traffic regulations and are restricted to public roads, parking areas, and designated routes. The use of inline skates, skateboards or scooters is prohibited.

Prohibited Items
Fireworks, traps, and the use of chainsaws are prohibited.