Great Smoky Mountains National Park Superintendent Dale Ditmanson is inviting the public to two open houses to discuss changes the park is considering in the way it manages its backcountry campsite reservation system. The open houses are set for Tuesday, August 16 at the Old Oconaluftee Visitor Center at 1194 Newfound Gap Road in Cherokee, NC and on Thursday, August 18 at Park Headquarters at 107 Park Headquarters Road in Gatlinburg. Both events will run from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.
“I look forward to the open houses as informal opportunities for park neighbors to talk about the proposed changes one-on-one with the park staff.” Ditmanson said. “There will be no formal presentations, so folks can show up at any time between 5:30 and 7:30.”
Park managers are proposing changes to the system by which backpackers make reservations for the use of the park’s remote campsites and shelters and they also plan to increase the presence of Rangers in the backcountry. If implemented, the changes will include charging a reservation fee. No fees are being contemplated for day hiking. Details of the proposal may be found at the park’s website: http://www.nps.gov/grsm/parkmgmt/index.htm