BACKCOUNTRY TAX FEEASCO the unedited and uncensored edition

Our original Backcountry Tax blog on the gosmokies site was moderated by some folks who held an opinion in favor of backcountry fees.  As a result the blog operator, Jigsha Desai made several threats to shut us down but we remained in operation because it was the most popular blog post in the history of that site.  We decided to take our conversation to a place where our message wouldn't be suppressed.  This blog is the result.

Therefore, it is our collective opinion that the Backcountry Fee Proposal put out By Park Superintendent Dale Ditmanson and backcountry specialist Melissa Cobern is an egregious reach into the pockets of taxpaying citizens. 

A prominent study proves that access fees restrict use of National Park and forest lands.

The primary justification of the backcountry fee proposal made by park administration is campsite overcrowding which was proven false.  Click here for details and statistics to prove this fallacy for exactly what it is.  A federal fee grab.

Park management cozies up to the horse lobby but proposes a tax on  backpackers who are the best citizens of the Great Smoky Mountains.  In fact, Ditmanson recently signed off on a new horse concession smack dab in the middle of Cades Cove. is touted as a solution for reservation problems in the backcountry office but this Canadian based company is frought with problems.  72 hour reservations are required for the empty Smokies campsites you will be paying for the privilege of using.  Forget spontaneous weekend outings with the family.  Better pull out the wallet, you are going to pay just to talk to them.

This is not about money for any of us.  We love the Smokies and actually get out there and know the lies being spread by the Sugarlands swashbucklers.  It is a matter of deciding what type of National Park you want.  Should boy scout groups and single mothers and twenty somethings be discouraged from nature because of trumped up justifications for more rangers?  We think not.  Help us stop this double taxation now.  One fee will result in another.  We must make a stand.

(picture courtesy Kittzy Benzar, Western Slope No fee coalition)

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Comment by Jo Neuspickel on July 26, 2021 at 3:17pm

Sadly John you are probably right. I did read somewhere that they have a shuttle for Cades Cove too now. I believe it cost $25 a person! I guess my husband and I will have to start exploring the surrounding areas! We have wanted to but never have! This October might just be the time we start!

Comment by John Quillen on July 26, 2021 at 3:09pm

Yes Jo. No surprise to any of us here. Entrance fee is next.

Comment by Jo Neuspickel on July 26, 2021 at 1:12pm

We all knew this was going to happen! (or at least I did) The next thing will be parking fees at ALL trailheads or something like that!

Comment by Dustin M on July 26, 2021 at 12:42pm

GATLINBURG, Tenn. — The National Park Service is seeking public input on the Great Smoky Mountains National Park Laurel Falls Trail Congestion Management Pilot Project. The pilot would address visitor experience, safety and parking congestion at one of the park’s busiest trails from Sept. 7 through Oct. 3, 2021. 

During the pilot project period, parking in undesignated areas would be prohibited. Parking at the trailhead would be provided by reservation only through for a fee of $14 per car.

Comment by Jo Neuspickel on June 10, 2021 at 9:19am

Well that is kinda scary! I would like to think that the ranger's would be out enforcing more of the rules than bothering people doing what the park is for! When I say enforcing the rules I am talking about the Razors we saw a couple months ago in the lawn of the Sugarlands Visitor center tearing up the grass or the Razors we have seen riding through Greenbrier and tearing up the side of the road! But there I go thinking again!! lol

Comment by John Quillen on June 9, 2021 at 10:15pm
Comment by John Quillen on April 9, 2021 at 12:03pm

Jo, 12$ is over a third of our current monthly operating expenses! Thanks so much.

Comment by Jo Neuspickel on April 9, 2021 at 8:00am

Well I don't shop Amazon all that often but when I do I donate to SFW! I just checked and as of yesterday I donated a whopping $12.17!!! Maybe I need to shop Amazon more often!! I guess every little bit helps though!

Comment by John Quillen on April 9, 2021 at 7:26am

Thanks AJ!

Comment by Andrew Sisson on April 8, 2021 at 11:05pm

I just went to and selected Southern Forest Watch.  Thanks to John & Meyers for all you do!

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