Great Smoky Mountains Backcountry Permits

LAKEVIEW DRIVE is closed to ALL ACCESS from August 14-November 14, 2023

Parking is limited and obtaining a parking tag does not guarantee a parking spot at a specific location.  Parking is available on a first-come, first-serve basis throughout the park.  Backcountry users should plan to arrive early in the morning to secure a parking spot for their intended backcountry itinerary, especially at the busier trailheads in the park - including but not limited to: Laurel Falls, Alum Cave, Deep Creek, Big Creek, Clingmans Dome, Cades Cove, Rainbow Falls, and trailheads along Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail. Upcoming 2023 Fee Free Days include: August 4, September 23, and November 11.

Proper food storage in the backcountry is critical.  Backpackers must hang all food/scented items on the cable system regardless of what type of container they are in.  Bear canisters are not required nor recommended in the backcountry.  If you choose to carry a bear canister, it must be placed in your pack and hung in the cable system to comply with the park requirement. 

To make a change to a permit you have already purchased, please call the Backcountry Office at 865-436-1297. You are not able to change the dates or itinerary of an existing permit online but Backcountry Office Staff can assist you.  

General Backcountry Permit

  • Backpackers are required to stay at designated campsites/shelters in the backcountry and all overnight stays in the backcountry require a permit.
  • As of March 1, 2023, backpackers who are planning to park a car in the park during their backcountry trip will need both a valid backcountry permit and appropriate parking tag.  Click here for more information about the parking tag.
  • General Backcountry Permit fees are $8.00 per person per night with a maximum fee of $40.00 per person per permit.
  • Permit fees are non-refundable and non-transferable.  To make a change to a permit you have already reserved, call the Backcountry Office at 865-436-1297.
  • Up to 7 nights can be on one permit.
  • You may not stay consecutive nights at any shelter or campsite 113. You may not stay more than 3 consecutive nights at any other campsite.  
  • As the permit holder, you are responsible for your group, including everyone's safety and compliance with park rules and regulations. In order to obtain a permit, you must agree to all permit conditions.  
  • Two parties affiliated with the same group may not stay in the same campsite(s) or shelter(s) on the same night(s).
  • Maximum party size is 8, unless a specific site has a lower total capacity. 
  • Campsites 17, 20, 46, 60, 86 and 90 can accommodate party sizes up to 12. Contact the Backcountry Office at 865-436-1297 for more information about making a reservation for a group of 12 at one of these sites.  
  • Permits may be obtained up to 30 days in advance of the first night of your trip itinerary.
  • You must have a paper copy of your permit with you at all times while in the backcountry.
  • The campsites/shelter sites open for reservations on the online permit system at midnight Eastern Time. Permits may also be obtained by contacting or visiting the Backcountry Office in person, located at Sugarlands Visitor Center, near Gatlinburg, TN. 
  • The Backcountry Office is open daily, from 8 am to 5 pm Eastern Time (865-436-1297).

From this online backcountry permit system, you may obtain basic trip planning information, check backcountry campsite and shelter availability, and secure, pay for and print your backcountry permit. If you purchase a permit and then need to make a change to it, please call the Backcountry Office at 865-436-1297.  You are not able to change the dates or itinerary of an existing permit online but Backcountry Office Staff can assist you.  

Your permit is built based on your itinerary - where you are entering the backcountry, spending each night and exiting the backcountry.  Please be sure to have this information ready before obtaining your permit. 

Permits obtained through this system are issued by email. If you do not have an email address, please contact the Backcountry Office at 865-436-1297.

All users should read through the information contained on the Things You Need to Know page before planning a trip and also download a copy of the park trail map before contacting the Backcountry Office for trip planning assistance. 

There are shuttle companies permitted to operate within Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  For more information, see the available shuttle options.

The Smokies backcountry is a mountainous, wilderness environment and is much more challenging than many people realize. Any backcountry trip, even a short one, involves risk and requires careful planning.

Please note that seasonal and weather-related road closures may affect your ability to access trailheads. Prior to starting your trip, please check the Road, Facility, and Backcountry Updates page and a weather forecast.  For updated road and weather information you can also call 865-436-1200 and once you hear a voice press 1, then press 1 for road information or 2 for weather forecast. Please remember that road and weather conditions change constantly. Be prepared for the unexpected!

Reservations for frontcountry campgrounds and horse camps are made through

For instructions on how to use the system, click the help button. Help

Begin Reservation

General Backcountry Permit Application


(Max stock per person = 2, 1 stock + 1 pack stock, not to exceed a total of 10 stock or the stock capacity of a site.)

Permitted stock are horses, mules, burros and llamas. Stock users must have a copy of a negative Coggins test for every equine in their party and keep a copy on hand at all times while they are in the park.

Not all trails are open to stock use. Please check the map to ensure your planned route of travel is appropriate.

Your Itinerary Information

Date # Nights Campsite/Shelter Remove

When you are finished selecting your campsites/shelters for your itinerary, click the "Continue With Permit Application" button to fill out the rest of your backcountry permit application.

Add Night Continue With Permit Application

How to Use the System

  • Enter the system by clicking the "Begin Reservation" button.
  • Enter the number in your party and the number of stock if applicable.
  • Click on a campsite or shelter to view basic information and a calendar of availability.
  • Hiker only sites are shown in red. Sites that allow stock are shown in green. Boat in only sites are shown in blue.
  • Choose all the sites for your itinerary before checking out and obtaining your permit.
  • IMPORTANT!! A session lasts only 15 minutes. So, when you start to make your itinerary, you must stay active on the site to keep your itinerary reserved. If you are inactive for 15 minutes, your itinerary is deleted and you will need to start a new itinerary. If you are having trouble with your itinerary not being saved, make sure you have session cookies enabled in your browser.

How to use the map

  • When this map first loads, the whole map is displayed.
  • You can zoom in on certain areas of the map in order to view the map details better. Use the buttons at the bottom of the map to zoom in or out on the map.
  • You can use the pan right/left/up/down buttons to move around on the map or you can drag the map with your mouse.
  • If you know site names or numbers, you can select them using the drop down in the upper right corner of the map. You can view the legend of the map in the lower right corner by zooming into it, or selecting it from the drop down (the last one in the list).
  • Selecting a site from the drop down will navigate to the site by zooming and centering the site in the map viewing window.
  • You can display basic site information, including a calendar of availability by clicking the red, green, or blue site numbers or shelters representing the site on the map.
  • Choose all the sites for your itinerary before checking out and obtaining your permit.

Calendar Instructions

Calendar example image
  • The date is in the upper right corner.
  • The number in the lower left corner indicates the number of user spaces available for the site or shelter for that day.
  • The number of stock spaces available at sites or shelters where stock is permitted is shown in parentheses.
  • If space is available for the date you want, click on the date in the upper right corner to select that day and add it to your itinerary.
  • If the site allows for more than one night, you will need to select the number of nights you want to use the site, then click the Continue button to add it to your itinerary and return to the map display page. Or click the Cancel button to display the calendar again.


Great Smoky Mountains National Park Backcountry Permits v3.5.119 - Last Update: September 12, 2023

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

107 Park Headquarters Road
Gatlinburg, TN 37738


(865) 436-1200

Contact Us