Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Great Smoky Regulations


Bears: Feeding the bears is illegal! It makes them bold and potentially dangerous. Keep a clean camp and deposit garbage in park trash cans or dumpsters. 


Bears: Feeding the bears is illegal! It makes them bold and potentially dangerous. Keep a clean camp and deposit garbage in park trash cans or dumpsters. 

Bears cause much property damage every year trying to get food, so be sure to "bearproof" your food, toothpaste and cosmetics. If you are car camping, keep food stored in the trunk of your car or in a strong food locker. If you must store food in the passenger compartment, cover it so that bears can't see it; they have learned to identify packaged food. If you are backpacking, suspend your food and food garbage on the cable system located at all backcountry campsites. Keep your tent, sleeping bag and other gear clean and free of food odor. Food storage regulations are strictly enforced at the park.

If you see a bear, do not approach it. The bear may display signs of aggressive behavior such as charging, making loud noises or swatting the ground—all indications of the bear demanding more space. If this happens, don't run. Instead, slowly back away, always watching the bear. If a bear follows you, change direction or stand your ground. Talk loudly or shout at it and make yourself look as large as possible to try to intimidate the bear. Don't run and don't turn away.

Poison Ivy and Ticks: To reduce your risk of poison ivy and ticks, stay on trails and avoid brushy areas. Wearing a hat, long pants and a long-sleeved shirt helps considerably. If you think you've brushed against poison ivy, remove and isolate the clothes you wore until you can wash them. Apply insect repellent to ward off ticks, and check yourself and your clothes for ticks after hiking. If a tick attaches itself to you, remove it with tweezers and then wash the area thoroughly with antiseptic or soap and water. Seek medical attention if part of the tick remains in your skin. Ticks transmit Lyme Disease, which is characterized by skin changes, flu-like symptoms and joint inflammation. 

Streams and Waterfalls: Be careful when walking around streams and waterfalls. Mist and moss make rocks and logs extremely slippery. Stay on trails. Don't drink untreated water which may contain impurities and parasites that can make you ill.

Swimming: Swimming is not recommended because streams contain submerged rocks, logs and debris, and flash floods may occur with little or no warning.

Valuables: Protect your belongings by not leaving valuables in your car. They are an easy target in a locked or unlocked car.

Weather: Storms can take you by surprise and temperatures on the Smokies' ridges are often much cooler than in the valleys. Dress in layers and always carry rain gear for comfort and to prevent hypothermia. This potentially fatal condition occurs when the body loses heat faster than it can generate it. 


Help protect the park by observing a few NPS regulations.

•â€‚ Alcoholic beverages are permitted only in designated picnic and camping areas. Possession of open alcoholic beverages in motor vehicles is prohibited. 

•â€‚ Bicycles, mountain bikes and motorcycles are allowed on paved roads and in campgrounds, but are prohibited on trails and administrative roads behind locked gates. Motorcyclists are required to wear helmets. Skateboarding is prohibited in the park.

•â€‚ Please don't feed, chase or harass park wildlife.

•â€‚ Camp in designated areas only. To camp overnight in the backcountry, you must obtain a free backcountry permit. Permits are available at campgrounds, visitor centers and ranger stations.

•â€‚ No fireworks or weapons, including firearms, bows and arrows and slingshots, are allowed in the park. Hunting is strictly prohibited.

•â€‚ Fires are allowed only in established fire rings or fireplaces. Cutting trees for firewood is prohibited. Concessioners sell firewood from spring to fall at Cades Cove, Elkmont and Smokemont campgrounds.

•â€‚ Fishing is allowed within the park from sunrise to sunset. A valid Tennessee or North Carolina state fishing license is required and may be purchased at sporting goods stores in gateway communities and at the Gatlinburg Welcome Center at the North entrance to town. Fishing with any natural bait is prohibited, so use single-hook artificial lures. After 30 years of being off- limits to anglers, brook trout can now be kept under new experimental park fishing regulations. Park fisheries biologists have found that "brookies" are able to co-exist with the non-native trout in most park streams. As part of an experimental regulation to continue to monitor impacts of fishing activity, approximately 700 miles of park streams will be opened for fishing brook trout. Before you cast any lines, check at a ranger station to learn which stream segments will be closed.

•â€‚ Pets must always be leashed. They are allowed along paved roads, in parking lots and in campgrounds accessible to motor vehicles. Pets are not permitted on trails (exceptions: Gatlinburg Trail and Oconaluftee River Trail), in public buildings or in the backcountry. Service animals are allowed throughout the park. 

•â€‚ Vandalism, or the removal of rocks, plants or any natural feature, is strictly prohibited.