National Park Notes Changing Camper Tastes
A modest expansion of the Cades Cove Campground store in Great Smoky Mountains National Park is in the works, according to theMaryville (Tenn.) Daily Times.
The planned improvements will update these facilities to meet the increased visitor demand that has developed since their construction in 1958; however, use of the camping facilities has dropped since the beginning of the decade.
“Camping has been off through the park by about 20% since 2000,” said Bob Miller, park spokesman “That’s a park-service-wide trend.”
The park’s 2009 Public Use Report showed a decrease in frontcountry camping with about 285,319 camper nights in 2008 compared with about 324,339 camper nights in 2007.
Miller said that the tastes of the camping public have been changing.
“America’s demographic is aging,” Miller said. “Older people are less prone to maybe rough it and sleep on the ground and tend to be more prosperous. … Now that the kids are raised, they can afford to stay in motels or they can stay in an RV.”
The Cades Cove campground has relatively limited facilities — there are no RV hookups, no cell phone service and no showers.
“People’s expectations have increased over the years,” Miller said. “A lot of people don’t want to just camp for three days and get crusty. … Of all the facility improvements that people suggest, showers are certainly the most common. Even having said that, the amount of investment you’d have to put in to provide it, it’d be really, really difficult to recoup that.”