Great Smoky Mountains Superintendent Dale A. Ditmanson announced today that when the park’s Cataloochee Campground reopens for the season next March 11th, campers will be required to have made advance reservations through Recreation.gov. Historically, the popular, but remote, 27-site campground has operated on a first-come-first-served basis, which did not provide prospective campers any way of knowing whether they would be able to get a site until after they arrived at the Campground.
“Cataloochee Campground offers one of the park’s most sought-after camping experiences, but getting there involves a 30 to 40 minute, 11-mile, drive off I-40, with much of that along a very-narrow and circuitous gravel road.” Ditmanson said. “There is no cell or landline phone service and no regularly-assigned staff assigned at the campground, so there is no way for anybody to check to see if sites are available. The reservation system will eliminate the frustration of finding no campsites left after having made the difficult drive to the campground.”
“The new reservation system will allow all interested campers an equal chance to plan their visits up to six month in advance with the assurance that they will have a site.” Ditmanson continued. “
The reservation system typically allows reservations to be made up to six months in advance, but the reservation database for Cataloochee in this first year is not expected to be active until February 1, 2011. On that date, reservations for sites from the March 11 campground opening date through August 1 will be reservable at once. Each day after February 1, 2011 a new date, six months ahead, will become available. Reservations will be made either online at: www.recreation.gov or toll-free at 1-877-444-6777.
The Cataloochee Campground is too small to have regularly-assigned staff on-site to collect fees, so reservations must be made in advance by phone or on-line. The cost of camping at Cataloochee in 2011 will be $20 per night beginning in March 2011. This fee is consistent with other park campgrounds with similar amenities that are available via the reservation system.
The park has been using the same reservation system with a high degree of visitor satisfaction for many years at its other three most popular campgrounds; Smokemont, Elkmont and Cades Cove as well as at all park horse camps, group campsites, and picnic pavilions.