Great Smoky Mountains Backcountry Permits

Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials announced that all park areas, except the Foothills Parkway and the Spur, are closed as of noon on Tuesday, March 24 through Monday, April 6, in a continuing effort to support federal, state, and local efforts to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). Visitors will be unable to obtain a backcountry permit until the park re-opens.
The park will continue to assess changing conditions in our region and work with local communities to extend or terminate closures, as appropriate to ensure the health and safety of our visitors, employees, volunteers, and partners.
All access to the park, including the backcountry, ALL trails, roads and facilities, are temporarily closed in response to Executive Order 117 issued by NC Governor Roy Cooper, Executive Order 17 issued by TN Governor Bill Lee of TN, Executive Order 6 issued by Principal Chief Richard Sneed of the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indians, Graham County travel restrictions, Swain County closure request, Sevier County partial closure request, Bryson City, NC closure request, and Pigeon Forge, TN Safe-at-Home Advisory.
During the closure period, visitors can experience the park using digital tools including our social media platforms and website where near real-time views can be seen via park webcams at The NPS is working with federal, state, and local authorities to closely monitor COVID-19 and to consider other operational adjustments accordingly. We will notify the public when we resume full operations and provide updates on our website at and social media.

Appalachian Trail Thru-Hiker Backcountry Permit

You may obtain an AT thru hiker permit through this site.

IMPORTANT! To qualify for an AT Thru-Hiker Permit, you must begin and end your hike at least 50 miles outside Great Smoky Mountains National Park and only travel on the AT in the park. Hikers not meeting this definition should apply for a General Backcountry Permit

All users are strongly encouraged to read the basic permit information below before acquiring a 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.

Basic Trip Planning Information

  • Permits are required for all overnight stays in the backcountry.
  • Each thru-hiker must obtain a separate permit.
  • You must have a paper copy of your permit with you at all times while hiking through Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Please follow the instructions on your permit once you get to the park.
  • You may obtain an AT Thru-Hiker Permit up to 30 days in advance of the date you anticipate arriving in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
  • There is a cost of $20.00 per permit. The cost of the permit is non-refundable.
  • A Thru-Hiker Permit is valid for up to 38 days from the date you obtain it. Thru-Hikers have 8 days to get through the Smokies. A break to rest or resupply in a nearby town does not negate one's standing as a thru-hiker.
  • Thru-Hikers may tent in the immediate area around shelters only if the shelter is full. Thru-hikers are required to stay in shelters when there is space available. Thru-Hikers must always give up bunk space in shelters to those with shelter reservations.
  • You are responsible for compliance with all park regulations and are responsible for your own safety. To keep the AT Thru-Hiker experience as unrestricted as possible, it is important that Thru-Hikers are diligent in following all regulations and consistently practice Leave No Trace principles.
  • To help ensure that your trip is safe and enjoyable, we strongly encourage you to read Things You Need to Know before planning your trip or completing a reservation.
  • Backpacking in the Smokies is much more challenging than many people realize. Additional trip planning assistance may be obtained through the Backcountry Information Office by calling 865-436-1297.
Apply for a Appalachian Trail Thru-Hiker Backcountry Permit
Great Smoky Mountains National Park Backcountry Permits v3.0.015 - Last Update: October 22, 2018

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

107 Park Headquarters Road
Gatlinburg, TN 37738


(865) 436-1200

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