More than a few folks have headed to Great Smoky during the summer months to relax in the shadows of the mountains. For some families, camping in the park has been passed down from generation to generation.
To accommodate these visitors, and others who might be making their one and only visit to the park, Great Smoky offers ten “front country” and dozens of backcountry campsites for hikers happy to strap a pack on their back and head away from the pavement.
Front country campgrounds, those you can drive to, are found at Abrams Creek, Balsam Mountain, Big Creek, Cades Cove, Cataloochee, Cosby, Deep Creek, Elkmont, Look Rock, and Smokemont. These facilities range from the tiny 12-site campground at Big Creek to the 220-site Elkmont Campground.
Each campground has restrooms with cold running water and flush toilets, but there are no showers or electrical or water hookups in the park. Shower facilities are available in the communities surrounding the national park. You can ask about the nearest facilities when you check-in at the campground. Each individual campsite has a fire grate and picnic table.
Which campground you choose depends both on where in the park you want to set up your basecamp to how much solitude you want.
Nightly fees range from $14 to $20.
Big Creek Campground
If you're looking for a small, quiet campground in Great Smoky Mountains National Park without being too far from a main road, you can't do much better than Big Creek Campground.
With only 12 tent sites, Big Creek is the smallest campground in the park. RVs are not allowed. The campground is described as a walk-in campground because you park your car in a small parking lot and walk maybe 100 to 300 feet to your site.
here's a friendly, comfortable feeling about Smokemont Campground in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Children race around on bicycles and adults visit with their camping neighbors. Two young men struggle to keep their fire going; it's clearly their first time camping. An old man reads in front of his old camper. From all the stuff around his campsite, you can tell that he's been here for a few days.
Smokemont Campground, three miles north of the entrance to the park on the Cherokee, North Carolina, side, is just off U.S. 441. The area was a large logging camp and village before it was became part of the park.
The Cataloochee Campground in Great Smoky Mountains National Park doesn't open until March 9 this year, but now is the time to make reservations for this small 27-site campground.
Until 2010, visitors had to drive into the deep valley to find that there wasn't a spot for their tent or trailer. That drives includes almost three miles of twisty unpaved road. But now you can reserve a site using recreation.gov.
The campground is laid out in a one-way loop with campsites on both sides of the road. With such a small campground, it's hard to say if any site is better than any other.