103 forum posts
I was given the weekend and a few extra days off for my birthday and I couldnt help but notice GSMNP has snow forecast for Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. I could not resist a trip and had the opportunity to use the new online permit registration process. I must say, for all my hesitation to the program, it turned out to be enjoyable, easy, and intuitive.
Anyone who has used the ever illustrious "recreation.gov" site to book a trip in our public spaces knows how vexing getting through red tape can be. Great Smoky Mountain National Park's new online paid permit registration is not that kind of experience. Try it out for your self, no need to commit and pay for the permit: https://smokiespermits.nps.gov/index.cfm
You are offered a simple set of choices that run very smoothly together. You start off with the option of back country permits or AT hiker permits. There is a basic AT hiker permit of 20$. The backcounty option brings you to a general information page about the permits and access to the reservation window: https://smokiespermits.nps.gov/index.cfm?BCPermitTypeID=1
You select you group size and stock. It brings you to an actual map that allows you to select sites. Clicking on a camp site brings up a reservation calender that displays to you information on the occupancy of the site. You need only to click on the day to reserve that site.
After you have completed you trip schedule you have a few options for direct payment of 4$ per person per night ($20 max per person). You permit is emailed to you to be printed out.
It has some advantages like starting some backpacking trips at the more obscure trailheads without having to go to a permit station. I can also get there as late as I want. The 4$ per person per night thing though is kinda lame...especially if you loved GSMNP for its free permits.