Cataloochee Campground in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park will re-open next year under a new advance reservation system.
When the campground opens March 11, campers will be required to have made advance reservations through Recreation.gov. Historically, the popular but remote 27-site campground has operated on a first-come; first-served basis, which did not provide prospective campers a way of knowing whether they would be able to get a site until after they arrived at the campground.
“Cataloochee Campground offers one of the park’s most sought-after camping experiences, but getting there involves a 30- to 40-minute, 11-mile, drive off I-40, with much of that along a very-narrow and circuitous gravel road,” said GSMNP Superintendent Dale Ditmanson. “There is no cell or landline phone service, and no regularly-assigned staff assigned at the campground, so there is no way for anybody to check to see if sites are available. The reservation system will eliminate the frustration of finding no campsites left after having made the difficult drive to the campground.”
The reservation system typically allows reservations to be made up to six months in advance, but the reservation database for Cataloochee in this first year is not expected to be active until Feb. 1. On that date, reservations for sites from the March 11 campground opening date through Aug. 1 will be reservable at once. Each day after Feb. 1 a new date, six months ahead, will become available. Reservations will be made either online at: www.recreation.gov or toll-free at 1.877.444.6777.
Cataloochee Campground is too small to have regularly-assigned staff on-site to collect fees, so reservations must be made in advance by phone or on-line. The cost of camping at Cataloochee in 2011 will be $20 per night beginning in March.