"Campers who enjoy using state park campsites have requested an advance reservations system for many years," said Meg Lockhart, spokeswoman for TDEC. "Implementation of the new system is just one of the ways we are providing additional or upgraded services to our customers."
Traditionally, campsites at Tennessee state parks have been offered on a first-come, first-served basis. On a popular weekend, that meant campers might arrive with no guarantee of getting a campsite.
"Not every single state park system throughout the country has a reservation system, but many do, and there are other campgrounds or entities in the state of Tennessee that do offer reservations, so this keeps us also in line with our competitors," Lockhart said.
While the park system hasn’t officially announced the reservation capability system-wide, Lockhart said campsite reservations are being accepted at various parks as part of a "phased approach."
Roan Mountain State Park, Warriors’ Path State Park and Davy Crockett Birthplace State Park are among those now accepting reservations. The complete listing is available at http://www.tn.gov/environment/parks/findapark/camping.shtml.
The phased approach has been used, Lockhart said, so that training could take place and any issues or concerns could be addressed. The official announcement - and a new, customer-friendly online reservation system - is expected to be unveiled in the coming months.
Until the online system is rolled out, details for making reservations are located on each park’s individual page. At Roan Mountain, Warriors’ Path and Davy Crockett, reservations can be made up to a year in advance by visiting or calling the park office during its regular daytime hours.
A listing of phone numbers for Tennessee state parks is also available at http://www.tn.gov/environment/parks/reservations/.
Reservations can currently be made online for inns and cabins at a handful of parks in other parts of the state. For backcountry camping in the parks that offer it, campers are required to get a free permit by visiting or calling the park office.
Lockhart said the $3 reservation fee being charged for state park campsite reservations will help offset the cost of the new reservation system - and charging such fees is an industry standard, whether it is identified as a reservation fee or simply included in the overall cost of a particular campsite.
For campers making reservations, the $3 fee will be added to the existing prices of $14 (no hookups) to $25 (full hookups) for a site. Those who come to a park without a camping reservation and select an unreserved site will not be charged a reservation fee.
"Camping at Tennessee State Parks is still a bargain," Lockhart said. "The ease and convenience of being able to reserve your campground now is going to make a lot of our annual campers very, very happy."