Sleeping quarters

4:41 p.m. on July 16, 2010 (EDT)
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I have been reading as many of the posts as I can, I ordered a book a month ago and it is still not here. My question is--I read that people sleep in shelters, are there places other than the shelters where you can put a tent? Thanks....Mike

4:48 p.m. on July 16, 2010 (EDT)
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Where are you refering to? There are tons of areas that have shelters but you can also tent near the shelter or anywhere else on the trail that is 200ft from water or dwelling etc

Other places you have to stay at the shelters or "designated" campsites

7:00 p.m. on July 16, 2010 (EDT)
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I am reading AT Trail Guide to NC/Ga. Page 28" the park service issues for a given night only as many camping permits as the capacity of the shelter. Camping adjacent to the shelters, as well as at unaughorized places along the trail is forbidden." This is in the Great Smokey Mountain section of the book. I have also read about a hike in a section called Standing Indian Mountain. That is probably where I will do my first try at this, can you camp along this trail or just at specific sites?

8:10 p.m. on July 16, 2010 (EDT)
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I don't have a trail guide in front of me to look at but, is standing indian mountain in the Smokies?

The Smokies is one of the sections on the AT where you must register and get a permit from the rangers. And you must register for specific shelters. I think there are a few campsites you can register for. Campsites being tent only.

I would plan out the logistics of your trip, and when you get to the point of calling the rangers to arrange your stays in the Smokies I would ask if you register for a shelter site if you could tent at the shelter area.

Actually I just checked out whiteblaze, here is a thread on just the topic

It seems as if you qualify as a thru hiker you don't have to use the shelters.

From Code Of Federal Regulations - Title 36, Chapter 1. The following regulatory provisions are established for the proper management, protection, government and public use of Great Smoky Mountains National Park under the jurisdiction of the National Park Service...
The use of tents at shelters is prohibited except by persons qualifying as thru-hikers on the Appalachian Trail (by definition an Appalachian thru-hiker is a backpacker who is using the Appalachian Trail exclusively while in the park and whose trip begins and ends a minimum of fifty miles outside the park). Thru-hikers may pitch tents outside shelters only when all bunks are otherwise occupied.

Hope this helps some, one of the quirks of a national park, GSMP in this case.

1:18 a.m. on July 17, 2010 (EDT)
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Great Smoky Mountain Park Shelter Procedures

As a thru-hiker, you won't have to register for particular shelters in GSMNP, and their use is reserved for thru-hikers first. You won't have a problem staying in or out of the shelters. If a shelter is full, you can just tent outside of the shelter but within the fenced-in area. (As far as I know, shelters in the park are fenced because of the bear population, but I could be wrong. This is why it's mandatory to stay at, but not necessarily in, one of the shelters when camping.)

When you reach the park, you fill out a registration form. If you're heading northbound, then after you cross NC 28 you'll arrive at a parking lot with payphone, restrooms, coke machines, and a self-registration kiosk/park map. The AT itself crosses this parking lot, so you can't miss it. The descent to NC 28 is pretty brutal, so this is a sweet spot for a coke machine--just make sure you have $1 bills or change! ;-)

At the map kiosk, you just take a form, fill out your information, and instead of listing the shelters you plan to stay at, just write in "Thru-Hiker" across the bottom. Make sure to take your copy of the form or you face the possibility of getting a fine. Then you have to hike over a small but sadistic piece of land to get to Fontana Dam itself. Once you cross the dam, you are in GSMNP. (The next road crossing will be at Newfound Gap, US 441, from where it's pretty easy to hitch into Gatlinburg.)

I know this procedure because I did it--I just never actually entered the park but quit the trail at Fontana Dam instead. You can also register at Fontana Dam itself according to my guidebook.

I'm sure the procedure is the same when going southbound, but the AT Thru-hiker's Guide will tell you where to fill out the registration form. I don't remember the name off the top of my head.

Hope this helps,


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