GATLINBURG, Tenn. (AP) -- Changes to the backcountry reservation and permitting process for the Great Smoky Mountains National Park take effect on Wednesday.
According to park officials, backcountry users will no longer be required to call the backcountry office to obtain reservations. They can be made online any time up to 30 days in advance. Permits also can be obtained online. The website is www.smokiespermits.nps.gov .
The park also will begin requiring a $4 per person, per night fee for backcountry camping.
Money collected from the fee will be used to expand the backcountry office hours and hire additional staff to provide trip planning assistance both over the phone and in person.
In addition, the park will expand its backcountry ranger presence to better protect the Smokies' natural resources.