Masters Theses

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science



Major Professor

Walter Shouse

Committee Members

Kenneth Kenney, A. J. Gray


The purpose of this thesis was to study the problems associated with the growing demand for tent and trailer camping facilities. In order to study the problem under controlled conditions, a case study of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park was undertaken. The study reviewed campers on three levels-- wilderness, primitive, and modern. Each of these categories was then divided into ten and trailer campers and a model campground facility developed for each. The facilities which presently exist in the park were then compared with the models. The comparison revealed that study area facilities were lacking in many of the conveniences desired by campers. The differences between the model and the study area facilities were most dramatic in the modern campgrounds where no electrical or water hookups were provided for individual sites nor were showers available for the campgrounds.

Overall the results of the study revealed that the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, like most of the recreational facilities across the country, has a growing demand for its camping facilities. The study further indicated that because of the increased demand park authorities have experienced an increase in littering, traffic congestion, vandalism, destruction of vegetation, and an increased workload for park personnel.

Potential for the development of commercial camping outside the study area appears to be good. Physically the area adjacent to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is similar to that found inside the park. To date commercial camp developers have not taken full advantage of this factor, but indications are that demand for quality facilities will increase, forcing commercial interests to reevaluate future development plans.

After completing the review of commercial developments surrounding the study area including the growth trends for study area visitation and existing camping facilities, the following recommendations were made:

1. Develop a system of reservations and central check-in stations.

2. Allow no additional expansion of existing camping facilities.

3. Undertake the redesign of existing park facilities.

4. Remove horse traffic from hiking trails.

5. Undertake a systematic removal of internal trailer camping with a greater emphasis on external commercial facilities.

In conclusion, if objectives established by the National Park Service for the maintenance and operation of our parks are to be met, restrictions on use patterns and levels will have to be rigidly enforced. It is also essential that park officials and private enterprise work together to protect the environment by controlling development in the area. Unless positive measures can be taken to protect the park and its perimeter from the growing pressures of increasing visitation much of the natural beauty of the area will be destroyed.

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