January 26, 2022

You’ll enjoy spending time in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park if you love being outdoors. The national park offers lots of ways to experience the outdoors for those who love nature, and one popular option is to go camping. Planning to go camping during your next visit to the Smokies? Here are 6 of the best campgrounds in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park:


1. Cades Cove Campground

Cades Cove Field

The Cades Cove Campground is near Townsend TN. This year-round campsite for tent and RV camping can be found in one of the most visited areas of the Smokies! During your stay, you’ll have the chance to take horseback, hay, and carriage rides or go bike riding. Also, Cades Cove is a great place to see wildlife like black bears, coyotes, and white-tailed deer or hike to Abrams Falls, which is part of a 5-mile, roundtrip trail. Finally, if you choose to spend some time at this campground, you have access to a general store and a ranger station if you need supplies or assistance.

2. Elkmont Campground

Interested in staying at a tent or RV campsite close to Gatlinburg TN? Try the Elkmont Campground, which is 9 miles away from the popular vacation destination! The Sugarlands Visitor Center is also just a 15-minute drive from the seasonal campground. If you want to bring your furry friend along, pets are permitted to stay with you at this campground. Just ensure that they are leashed and are not taken on any trails. If you stay long enough, you can take some time to explore the Elkmont Ghost Town and find the troll bridge off Little River Trail! The Elkmont Campground area is also close to Laurel Falls, a waterfall with 80 feet of cascades.

North Carolina

3. Cataloochee Campground

cataloochee valley

The tent-only campground in Cataloochee Valley has a peak season of April to October. You’ll find grills, a fire pit, and a comfort station available for use at this campground. After you’ve settled in, try hiking the almost 6 miles of Boogerman and Caldwell Fork Trails. You could also go on a backpacking adventure from this site. If you’re into history, you’ll be able to explore some historical buildings like Palmer Chapel or the Caldwell House. When you’re in this area, don’t forget to see if you spot any elk, as they mostly populate the Cataloochee Valley area of the Smoky Mountains!

4. Smokemont Campground

Like the Cades Cove Campground, the Smokemont Campground is also available for camping year-round in tents or RVs. You can find paved parking, restrooms, utility sinks, and other helpful amenities here. This pet friendly campsite near Cherokee NC is perfect for scenic views of the mountains as well as beautiful wildflowers in the spring or vibrant fall foliage too! Smokemont Campground is close to the Bradley Fork River, and you also have creek access if you stay here. Furthermore, Smoky Mountain camping guests at the campground have the choices to hike, fish, picnic, view wildlife, and take auto tours in this area.

Tennessee/North Carolina State Line

5. Cosby Campground

NC TN Mountain View

If you want to camp closer to the North Carolina/Tennessee line, the Cosby TN area is a great place to start. This site is versatile, as it allows for tent and RV camping. Right next to Cosby Creek, the Cosby Campground could easily be one of the best campgrounds in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park because of its amenities. These include: a picnic area and shelters, an emergency phone, restrooms, and much more! Other notable aspects of the Cosby Campground are that it has handicap accessible sites, and pets are allowed with the same restrictions in place that are at the Elkmont Campground.

6. Big Creek Campground

Big Creek Campground is near Waynesville NC in the northeastern corner where Tennessee and North Carolina meet. It hosts those who are tent-only campers and features a picnic area and a fire pit. If you love hiking, this is the campground to visit! It has access to: Big Creek Trail, the Appalachian Trail by way of Chestnut Branch Trail, and Baxter Creek Trail. You can also visit Mouse Creek Falls near Mouse & Big Creeks, and Midnight Hole, which is a deep pool formed from Big Creek flowing through big boulders.

You don’t have to go far to find some of the best campgrounds in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park for a great camping experience. Not quite ready to go on a camping trip yet? Check our full list of things you can do in the national park!