On the road to Clingman’s Dome in GSMNP.

If you’ve ever camped in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park (GSMNP) you know there aren’t showers at park campgrounds – but have you ever wondered why? Is this an idea no one has considered before? The Chattanooga Times Free Press has some answers.

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park celebrates its 75th anniversary this year and it’s still the most visited of all the National Parks (9.3 million visitors in 2006 alone!). Despite offering primative (by some standards) camping facilities, it can still be tough to snag a campsite in summer. So are hot showers being withheld to keep the crowds down?

It turns out the real reason has to do with cost and environmental concerns. Park managers want to keep fees low (GSMNP is still one of the few large National Parks that doesn’t charge a gate fee) and building showers would add to the cost of campsite rentals. Then there’s also the issue of what to do with all that extra wastewater in such a beautiful and natural area. Unfortunately GSMNP already has the distinction of being one of the most polluted parks in the NP system due to all the vehicles driving through each year and adding more pollution isn’t good for anyone.

The cool thing is that many of the facilities and campgrounds are just as they were nearly 75 years ago when the park was first designated and visitors get to experience a little history along with the nature beauty. Like someone once said: you don’t mess with a good thing!

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