View Full Version : Reservations needed for shelters?

04-11-2012, 19:35
I found the following statement on the Smoky Mountain website. Can anyone tell me if shelter reservations are really needed in the Smoky Mtn. Nat. Park? I have also included a URL to the page speaking about reservations.

The park requires that you stay at designated campsites and shelters while camping in the backcountry.

Advance reservations are required to camp at the following sites:
All shelters
Backcountry Campsites 9, 10, 13, 17, 20, 21, 23, 24, 29, 36, 37, 38, 46, 47, 50, 55, 57, 60, 61, 71, 83, 84, 85, 86, 90, 113.

You can download a park trail map (http://www.nps.gov/grsm/planyourvisit/upload/BC-Map-july-11.pdf) to find the location of backcountry shelters and campsites in the park.
Plan your trip and determine which sites you wish to camp at. If your itinerary includes a reserved site or any shelter, you must call the Backcountry Reservation Office at (865) 436-1231 to make reservations.


04-11-2012, 19:53
Are you a thru hiker? Then only a permit and follow established shelter policy. See this link and scroll down to "Where are permits required and fees charged"


Section hiker? Then yes, you need one.

max patch
04-11-2012, 21:21
I'll just add that the definition of a thru-hiker (reservations not needed - just register as Spokes mentioned) is a hike that both starts and ends at least 50 miles from the parks borders.

Rain Man
04-11-2012, 22:58
Can anyone tell me if shelter reservations are really needed in the Smoky Mtn. Nat. Park?

Yes. And, yes. But I had no problems getting reservations when I "thru'd" the GSMNP. Just don't wait till the last day. Get them early as possible, which was then 30 days out.



Northern Lights
04-11-2012, 23:07
I have my reservations all booked. Didn't take long, just have to be patient as the signal is often busy. Just keep dialing!

Tennessee Viking
04-12-2012, 08:27
If you are a thru-hiker or a section hiker starting more than 50 miles outside of the park, reservations are not required. As Spokes mentioned, only a permit is needed. If sectioning less than 50 miles from the park or just doing the park trails, you are required to get shelter reservations and permit. Reservations should guarantee you a spot in the shelters. Most thru-hikers actually like tenting instead of sleeping in the shelters.

04-12-2012, 13:58
Thanks for answering my question - Y'all are great!

05-16-2012, 19:58
Are reservations needed at Fontana Dam Shelter? It's just outside the Park boundaries and doesn't show up on GSMNP materials. I'm hiking from IceWater Springs in the Park to Fontana Dam Shelter. Thanks.

05-16-2012, 20:43
Fontana Dam shelter is outside the park, no reservation required.

05-16-2012, 21:22
And BTW, it's also referred to as the "Fontana Hilton" - in fact when I stayed there on an '04 section hike (http://www.trailjournals.com/entry.cfm?id=84125), the sign read Fontana Hilton.

http://www.trailgallery.com/photos/2153/tj2153_112404_205215_73194.jpg (http://www.trailjournals.com/photos.cfm?id=73194&back=1)

05-20-2012, 22:32
I sectioned, and I did make the required reservations. On day one, we made it to Mollies Gap shelter and our reservation was for the next shelter. As I was passing through the shelter area, I was stopped by a ridge runner who questioned me about my permit and my reservations. I had both, so it was no big deal, but they do have ridge runners and rangers who will check the various shelters along the way and push hikers along to where they are registered.

Cherokee Bill
05-21-2012, 19:46
Yep! Trail Police. Just to make that hike that more enjoyable:mad: Next year we'll have the Drones flying overhead demanding U hold up a Permit/Reservation, or you'll be executed from the sky !