The awe-inspiring Great Smoky Mountains, a splendid creation of nature that spans across the border of Tennessee and North Carolina, irresistibly invite explorers and enthusiasts of the natural world to witness the untamed magnificence they possess. Venturing into the Smoky Mountains to camp is an invitation to deeply immerse oneself in the core of this remarkable location, recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which boasts dense forests, an array of wildlife and mesmerizing waterfalls. In this guide, we are thrilled to present the best campgrounds in the smokies, ensuring that your outdoor escapade in this picturesque and captivating wilderness is nothing short of extraordinary.
1. Elkmont Campground
Elkmont Campground, nestled beside the winding Little River, is a tranquil sanctuary for outdoor enthusiasts. Boasting more than 200 meticulously maintained camping spots, it accommodates both tent and RV camping. Elkmont is highly regarded for its captivating natural marvel: the synchronous firefly showcase, which illuminates the late spring evenings. This enchanting spectacle is an absolute must-see, attracting visitors hailing from distant corners of the globe.
2. Cades Cove Campground
Situated within the enchanting Cades Cove valley, this campground offers an immersive experience in the heart of the Smokies. With 159 spacious sites, Cades Cove Campground accommodates tent and RV campers. The campground provides easy access to the historic Cades Cove Loop Road, a prime spot for wildlife viewing and scenic beauty.
3. Smokemont Campground
Nestled peacefully next to the calm Oconaluftee River, Smokemont Campground lures you in with its 142 alluring campsites. Beloved by hikers, it grants easy access to trailheads that lead to the renowned Alum Cave Trail and various parts of the Appalachian Trail. Embark on an enchanting journey as you soak in the captivating vistas from Charlies Bunion or enjoy a leisurely stroll to the nearby historic Mingus Mill.
4. Cosby Campground
If you are in search of a serene sanctuary within the bounds of the park, then look no further than the Cosby Campground. This idyllic haven promises an unparalleled camping sojourn, with its extensive selection of 157 meticulously cared-for camping spots. Serving as an ideal hub for intrepid explorers, the campground offers easy access to the plethora of hiking trails that grace the surrounding Cosby region. Notably, the arduous yet rewarding ascent of Mount Cammerer Fire Tower is one such trail that beckons adventurers, bestowing upon them breathtaking vistas that span the horizon.
5. Abrams Creek Campground
Abrams Creek Campground presents a tranquil and secluded sanctuary boasting 16 exclusive sites tailored solely for tent camping enthusiasts. Nestled in close proximity to the peaceful and gently flowing Abrams Creek, this campground emerges as an exceptional option for individuals yearning for a serene retreat within the embrace of Mother Nature. Here, you can indulge in the art of fishing, casting your line into the refreshing creek waters, or embark upon thrilling hiking expeditions along the neighboring trails, such as the captivating Little Bottoms Trail.
6. Cataloochee Campground
The Cataloochee Campground serves as an entrance to the park’s abundant past and extraordinary wildlife. It is a one-of-a-kind camping spot, housing significant buildings and the park’s initiative to reintroduce elk. With its 27 meticulously cared for sites, visitors can effortlessly explore the region’s historical landmarks and enjoy observing the magnificent elk, among other wildlife.
7. Deep Creek Campground
Deep Creek Campground serves as a thriving center for individuals who relish the great outdoors. Boasting a staggering 92 campsites, it presents an ideal opportunity for those seeking aquatic escapades and breathtaking hiking trails. Situated in close proximity to the renowned Deep Creek vicinity, visitors can delight in the exhilarating experiences of tubing downstream in the creek, as well as embarking on picturesque explorations along trails adorned with the natural wonders of Juney Whank Falls and Indian Creek Falls.
8. Big Creek Campground
Situated at the end of Big Creek Road, this campground offers a tranquil retreat. Boasting a total of 12 camping sites, it serves as a serene location for those looking to pitch their tents. In close proximity, the Big Creek Trailhead grants access to unspoiled wilderness paths, encompassing the famous Midnight Hole and Mouse Creek Falls.
9. Twin Creeks Campground
Twin Creeks Campground, situated in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, stands as the sole camping ground within the park’s vicinity. With 35 camping spots available, visitors can choose between pitching a tent or parking their recreational vehicle (RV). In close proximity lies the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail, a picturesque route that not only offers breathtaking views but also grants easy entry to various hiking trails like Grotto Falls and Rainbow Falls.
10. Fontana Village Resort and Marina
Situated on the charming Fontana Lake, this resort presents an unparalleled camping adventure. Outdoor enthusiasts have the privilege to select from an array of camping options, including tent sites, RV sites, and cozy cabins. The marina opens up delightful opportunities for indulging in fishing escapades, embarking on boating excursions, and venturing into the tranquil coves that grace the lake’s surface. In close proximity, the awe-inspiring Fontana Dam awaits, boasting breathtaking panoramas that are sure to captivate visitors.
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Camping in the Great Smoky Mountains is an opportunity to connect with nature’s splendor in its purest form. Each of these campgrounds offers a unique experience, from the tranquil riverside sites at Elkmont to the historic charm of Cataloochee and the adventure-packed Deep Creek area. Prepare for an unforgettable outdoor adventure as you delve into the pristine beauty of this Appalachian treasure. Whether you’re a seasoned camper or a novice explorer, the Smokies await your discovery, promising memories that will last a lifetime.