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  1. Default Great Smoky Mountains

    Hello everyone, I am just looking to get some help with my trip to the Great Smoky Mountains. I've tried to roughly estimate the cost of the trip, but for some reason I feel like I'm not doing such a great job, because the price just seems too low. Here is what I have so far...

    There's going to be six of us leaving from New Jersey in one car (it's a Chevy Suburban, so I think we should be comfy enough). The Map Wizard on this site approximates the drive, one way, to be 660 miles, which would be 1320 miles two ways. I know you're supposed to account for extra miles that may add up, so I put 1500 miles in to the fuel cost calculator. At 20 MPG for $4.00 a gallon, it says it'll cost about $300 two ways, which is $50 a person. The campsite (Big Creek) is $14 a night, coming to $98 for a week, about $17 per person, which leaves us at $68 a person thus far. I figured the most we'd need for food would be $100 each (we're going to bring food for the road and then hit up a supermarket when we're closer so we don't have to pay for fast food), so that would be $168 each, final cost. For some reason, this number just seems too low to me. If anyone could provide some insight, I would be very grateful. I think I must be overlooking something, as I was expecting a figure much more than this, so don't be hesitant to break any bad news to me. Thanks guys!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default There's always extras

    There's a few area where I think you've underestimated.

    First, 20 mpg in a Suburban loaded down with 6 people and camping gear? That sounds extremely optimistic to me. For that matter, while the Suburban can certainly fit 6 people, will you be able to fit 6 people plus a weeks worth of luggage plus camping gear? Trying to sit 3 across a bench seat will get pretty old pretty quickly, and you've got about 14 hours of driving to get to your destination. If you have to put things on the roof, for example, that would bring your mpg down even more.

    Also with regards to gas, I don't think you've calculated enough for mileage. Your estimate is appropriate if you were just doing a down and back trip, but do you plan to stay at your campsite every day for a week? I'd assume you'll drive around for at least 50 miles each day exploring the park.

    You also aren't including anything other than the basics. You'll need money for firewood, ice, and general entertainment. Again, what do you plan to do during the week? Unless it is just sitting around your campsite, there's a good chance it will cost something. You need to factor that into your costs.

  3. #3

    Default Other costs

    Hello Imagine,

    At today's prices down this way (North Carolina), $4.00 gallon is a bit high, but perhaps not for long. I'd be very surprised if a heavily-laden Suburban would see 20mpg on a trip up and down the mountains and foothills between NJ and the Smokies while running the A/C. I rather suspect you'll be seeing 13.5 to 15.0 mpg, at best.

    You may not have factored in the admission fee to the National Park, either, as it looks like you're only factoring in the campsite fee itself. If your campground is outside of the Park and you intend to enter the park several times, you might want to look at buying an annual pass, as the pass provides for a number of persons' entrance in a given vehicle for one flat fee for a whole year, at any fee-charging National Park, Monument, and similar facilities. The National Park Service website has the scoop on the Annual Pass.

    Enjoy planning and taking your Summer Smokies RoadTrip!


  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default If All You Do Is Eat and Sleep

    Your cost estimate is fine as far as it goes. $600 can go a long way towards feeding a group as long as you limit yourselves to supermarket bought food, and can all agree on what to eat. You'll probably have to make at least a couple of trips to the food store just because of perishability issues, so you'll have the chance to change what you eat to get some variety into your menu. The problems, if there are any, are in things you haven't budgeted for. Incidentals such as showers (You were planning on taking at least a couple, weren't you?), souvenirs, admissions, entertainment, non-food purchases such as beer and wine, and even the occasional fast food foray just for the comfort factor. While most of those are personal preference items, they can add up fast. The other big ticket item you need to at least be ready for is any emergency that might come up, be it medical, mechanical, whatever. Just make sure that there is room on your credit card(s) for such things.


  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    Great Smoky Mountain National Park is one of the few national parks that does NOT charge an admission fee. A pass purchase wouldn't pay off. Even in the parks that do charge admission, the fee is usually good for unlimited entrances and exits for 7 days for the whole vehicle.

  6. Default

    Thanks for the help so far guys. As I thought, there seems to be some mistakes. With everything you guys have mentioned would $200-250 each be enough? That would come out to be $1,200-1500 in total for a one week trip for six people. Or is that still too little? We don't have any plans to do anything other than camp. Obviously, we'll be exploring the area, but nothing that will cause any serious expenses, I think. But as for souvenirs or other stops along the way, there won't be any of that. Also, I've been told that there is no entrance fee for the Smoky Mountains. Is this incorrect? Thanks again.

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