Policies - Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Dogs are allowed in campgrounds, picnic areas, and along roads, but must be kept on a leash at all times. The leash must not exceed 6 feet in length. Dogs are only allowed on two short walking paths—the Gatlinburg Trail and the Oconaluftee River Trail. Pets are not allowed on any other park trails. Pet excrement must be immediately collected by the pet handler and disposed of in a trash receptacle. Pets should not be left unattended in vehicles or RVs.
Large national parks that have extensive backcountry areas as a rule do not allow dogs on trails. These include parks such as Yellowstone, Yosemite, Grand Canyon, Glacier, Rocky Mountains, and several others. Great Smoky Mountains National Park has prohibited dogs in the backcountry since the park was first established in the 1930s. The park prohibits dogs on hiking trails for several reasons:
• Dogs can carry disease into the park's wildlife populations.
• Dogs can chase and threaten wildlife, scaring birds and other animals away from nesting, feeding, and resting sites. The scent left behind by a dog can signal the presence of a predator, disrupting or altering the behavior of park wildlife. Small animals may hide in their burrow the entire day after smelling a dog and may not venture out to feed.
• Dogs bark and disturb the quiet of the wilderness. Unfamiliar sights, sounds, and smells can disturb even the calmest, friendliest, and best-trained dog, causing them to behave unpredictably or bark excessively.
• Pets may become prey for larger predators such as coyotes and bears. In addition, if your dog disturbs and enrages a bear, it may lead the angry bear directly to you. Dogs can also encounter insects that bite and transmit disease and plants that are poisonous or full of painful thorns and burrs.
• Many people, especially children, are frightened by dogs, even small ones. Uncontrolled dogs can present a danger to other visitors.
Campground Rules & Regulations:
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. 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 www.recreation.gov
Length of Stay
Your stay is limited to seven consecutive days from May 15 - October 31. A 14-consecutive-day limit applies from November 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.
You may have two tents or one tent in addition to a motor home or trailer. Please keep tents 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, Michigan, Ohio, New Jersey and New York 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.
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. During quiet hours, noise-producing equipment should be turned off and entry to the campground is limited to registered campers. Unreasonable noise, such as operating a generator for more than an hour at a time, is prohibited at any time. Please be considerate of other 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.
Fireworks, traps, and the use of chainsaws are prohibited.
Most visitors understand that feeding wildlife is against the law, but many people do not realize that disturbing park wildlife is also a violation of federal regulations and can result in fines and arrest.
The laws protecting park wildlife are contained in the Code of Federal Regulations. It states that “Willfully approaching within 50 yards (150 feet), or any distance that disturbs or displaces bear or elk is prohibited." In addition, feeding, touching, teasing, frightening, or intentionally disturbing wildlife is prohibited.
As a rule of thumb, if you approach an animal so closely that it changes its behavior, you have approached too closely. Instead use binoculars, spotting scopes and cameras with telephoto lenses to enjoy wildlife. Watch for any modification in an animal's behavior that indicates that you have approached too closely. Move away from the animal until you reach a distance at which the animal feels comfortable once again and resumes whatever activity it was engaged in before you approached.
Never feed wildlife or bait animals for closer observation or photography. Feeding park wildlife usually guarantees its demise.
Where to stay in the Smoky Mountains: