Appalachian Traveller


Smoky Mountain Park Campsites

The National Park Service maintains ten developed campgrounds in the Park. Amentities such as water, fireplaces, picnic benches, bathrooms, tent and camper spaces are available for a fee. There are no showers, electrical hookups, or water hookups. Reservations are recommended for Cades Cove, the Cosby Campground, Elkmont, and Smokemont by calling 1-800-365-CAMP. You can download a Park map to find the location of these campgrounds in the Park.

Abrams Campsites

16 - Sites, Elev. 1125'
Mar. 12th. - Oct. 31st.
Max. RV length 12'
$12 Overnight Fee

Just west of Cades Cove and accessible from US 129 and Happy Valley Road, the Abrams campground has a few campsites for tent and/or tailer camping. Rabbit Creek trail follows Abrams Creek eleven or twelve miles into Cades cove. Along the way at Scott Gap four other trails splinter from it, and Hanna Mountain trail forms a loop back to the campground. At the far side of the campground there is a eleven mile loop that is a moderately difficult day hike.

Balsam Mountain Campsites

46 Sites, Elev. 5310'
May 14th. - Oct. 11th.
Max. RV Length 30'
$14 Overnight Fee

Balsam Mountain is a highly elevated Park campground on the eastern end of the Park and features a 3/4 mile nature trail. The Balsam Mountain Trail connects this campground with the Big Creek campground via the Gunter Fork and Camel Gap trails, and the Appalachian Trail. Accesssible from the Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina take Balsam Mountain Road to the end of the pavement.

Big Creek Campsites

12 Sites, Elev. 1,700'
Mar. 1st. - Oct. 31st.
No RV's
$12 Overnight Fee

A very small campground at the eastern end of the Park, Big Creek can easily be accessed off I-40 at the Waterville exit at the border of Tennessee and N. Carolina, or reached by paved then gravel road from TN Hwy 32 out of Cosby. It features trailheads to Big Creek Trail and the Baxter Creek Trail to the Mt. Sterling firetower.

Cades Cove Campsites

161 sites, Elev. 1807
Open Year Round
Max. RV Lenght 35'
$14-$17 Overnight Fee

Reservations are recommended for the Cades Cove campground featuring 161 sites. The Cades Cove motor loop, welcome center, and historical homes, churches, and mill from the post colonial settlement are nearby. Trails to Abrams Falls, Cades Cove Mountain, Russell Field, Spence Field, Rocky Top, Gregory Bald, Hannah Mountain, and the Appalachian Trail are accessible from Cades Cove.

Cataloochee Campsites

27 Sites, Elev. 2,610'
Mar. 12th. - Oct. 31st.
Max. RV Length 31'
$12 Overnight Fee

Known for its historic buildings, large trees, and many streams, brooks, and footbridges the Cataloochie area is located in the southeastern edge of the Park. To get to the campground from 1-40 take the Waynesville- Maggie Valley, NC exit to US 276 and turn almost immediutely on Cove Creek Rd. At 2 miles bear right to stay on Cove Creek Road, you'll encounter a paved road at 7-8 miles, follow it 3-4 miles more to the campground. Rough Fork Trail connects to Caldwell Fork Trail that will take you back to the Cataloochee campground. Or for a shorter (7.4 miles) loop trail take Caldwell Fork Trail to the Boogerman Trail loop and back to the campground.

Cosby Campsites

157 Sites, Elev. 2,459'
Mar. 12th. - Oct. 11st.
Max. RV Length 25'
$14 Overnight Fee

Located on the eastern side of the Park, the Cosby Campground is one of the largest. Bordering Cosby Creek, you can access the trail heads to Mt. Cammera's firetower and the Snake Ridge Den Trail to Maldron Bald and the Appalachian Trail. There is also a very nice 1 mile nature hike at the campground.

From US Hwy. 321 at the Cosby post office take TN Hwy. 32 two miles to the entrance.

Deep Creek Campsites

108 Sites, Elev. 1,800'
April 2nd. - Oct. 31st.
Max. RV Length 26'
$14 Overnight Fee

Site of the first Cherokee village, you can reach the Deep Creek Campground from Bryson City, NC. Take US 19 from Cherokee and at Bryson turn right on Everett street. Wildfloweres, waterfalls, large streams, and several connector trails highlight the Deep Creek trail.

Elkmont Campsites

220 Sites, Elev. 2150'
Mar 12th. - Nov 30th.
Max. RV Length 32'
$14-$20 Overnight Fee

Take Little River Road five miles west of the Sugarlands Visitor Center into Elkmont. There you'll find a short nature trail where the Little River Railroad once operated.

Look Rock Campsites

92 Sites, Elev. 2,600'
May 14th. - Oct. 31st.
Max. RV Length 35'
$14 Overnight Fee

The Chilhowee Mountain lookout tower offers a splendid view of the Smokies Crest. Reach it from the Foothills Parkway on the western edge of the Park between US 321 and US 129.

Smokemont Campsites

140 Sites, Elev. 2,198'
Open Year Round
Max. RV Length 27'
$14-$17 Overnight Fee

You can reach the Smokemount campground from Newfound Gap Road (US 441) about 3 miles north of the Oconalufte Visitors Center in North Carolina. Use the Bradley Fork trail to reach Chasteen Creek Trail, Hughes Ridge Trail, and on to the Appalachian trail. From Chasteen Creek Trail take the Smokemont Loop trail featuring several stream crossings back to the campground.

Backcountry Campsites - Mt. LeConte

There are several trails to the summit of Mt. LeConte from Cherokee Orchard Road in Gatlinburg or take the shortest route (five miles) via the Alum Cave trail off the Newfound Gap Rd. (US 441) about 4 miles from Newfound Gap towards Cherokee. There are campsites for public camping and LeConte Lodge where you must make prior reservations for overnite lodging. Reservations can be made by calling 865/429-5704, fax 865/429-5705 or e:mail

All backcountry campers are required to have a free backcountry permit available at most ranger stations and visitor centers. Camp in a designated site or shelter. Campers need reservations to stay in any shelter, and 14 tent areas also require reservations. Campers can make reservations by calling (865) 436-1231 daily during regular business hours. A backcountry map, showing all the hiking trails, camping areas, and a list of rules, regulations, and safety concerns is available through the Great Smoky Mountains Association's online bookstore . For questions about the backcountry (but not reservations) phone the backcountry office at (865) 436-1297. Be prepared before heading into the backcountry! Get a local weather forecast and be aware of the local climate. Proper clothing, food, water, and equipment are all musts. Food storage regulations are in place and should be followed. Click here for more information on bears and regulations.

Copyright © 1998-2004. Appalachian Traveller, Inc.
All Rights Reserved.