View Full Version : Pitching tent outside shelter?

10-02-2006, 22:07
I was going to do some hiking around smokemont in GSNP, until I realized that there weren't any campsites around the trails I wanted to take so I called the rangers about it. They told me that I'm not allowed to pitch a tent outside of a shelter? i just assumed I could if I could find space but I'm not allowed.

Now. I'm planning to spend 4 days hiking around Roan Mountain and am wondering about pitching a tent again. I don't really like shelters because I enjoy privacy, and not worrying about walking around at night to take a piss. Can I expect to pitch a tent outside these shelters, or just try to find a suitable spot for a tent elsewhere? I like the company of people around the shelter, but like sleeping on my own. I'm sure I'll definitely find all this out on my thru next year, but this would help for the upcoming weekend..

10-02-2006, 22:45
You will be good to go pitching a tent around the shelter in the Roan area. There aren't all that many areas where tenting is regulated. Mainly the national parks a few state parks the Whites and a few local areas such as here in central PA in the valley (Cumberland valley field walk), Just please follow LNT guidelines. Not sure of all the places best bet would be to get the guides for the sections you want to hike they will provide that information.

Daddy Longlegs
10-03-2006, 21:01
From what I know of the Smokies there are only shelters along the AT (except for maybe 1 other off of the AT) and at the AT shelters you have to sleep in the shelter (reservations I think are required) unless you are a thru hiker then if there is no room then you can tent outside.

Hikes in Rain
10-04-2006, 08:13
Two others, actually. LeCompte and Kephart. But the advice is correct; you're supposed to stay in the shelters. Of course, if they're full.....

Hikes in Rain
10-04-2006, 08:16
Note to self: check references prior to shooting off mouth!

Forgot the Laural Gap shelter on the Benton Mackaye trail.

10-04-2006, 08:55
Maybe things have changed in the past few years but during my thru in 2003 I got to a couple shelter areas late in the afternoon and had to pitch my tent because the shelters were full. In one case (Ice Water Springs) I pitched right outside the shelter and at Derrick Knob I pitched about 100 yards or so away from the shelter in the trees.


10-04-2006, 11:43
Is it in GSMNP that two spots are reserved for thru-hikers in the shelters? Is it like that in any other shelters along the way?

10-04-2006, 11:57
Is it in GSMNP that two spots are reserved for thru-hikers in the shelters? Is it like that in any other shelters along the way?

"Reserved" is probably a generous term in this case. Pretty hard to enforce unless a Ranger is right there at the time.

Here's the scenario ...you get to the shelter and it's full. You ask if all the people inside are thru-hikers and no one answers.

What do you do ...what do you do ??

As far as the rest of the shelters go, it's pretty much a first come/first serve system.


10-04-2006, 12:01
from what I have heard a lot of folks go up to Icewater Spring Shelter and stay w/out permits. It is usually crowded because of this. You can either ask everyone if they have a permit (ask to see it) or stay in your tent.

10-04-2006, 13:06
Thanks slogger. Good to know.

10-04-2006, 14:23
From the 06 Companion

Shelter policy—While other backpackers must make reservations to use backcountry shelters, thru-hikers are exempt from this park regulation. Instead, the park automatically reserves four spaces at each of the A.T. shelters Mar 15–Jun 15. During this time, it is rare that only four thru-hikers will share a shelter. As a result, shelters in the Smokies are often very crowded. Park regulations require stays in shelters, which complicates matters. If there is no room left in the shelter, you must set up your tent close by and use the bear cables. Only thru-hikers are permitted to tent-camp at the shelters, so the burden is on them to make room inside shelters for other campers who have reserved space.