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Best Camping In Great Smoky Mountains

Are The Smoky Mountains Worth Visiting

Cades Cove Campground Review | Great Smoky Mountains | Best Camping in the Smokies

The Smoky Mountains are worth visiting more than once. Theyre beautiful year-round, and because theyre so expansive, you can keep going back to see something new. The national park also provides an education on the region, wildlife, plants, geography, and history. You can learn and experience a lot on a visit. Theres no shortage of adventure and entertainment, from Gatlinburg to Pigeon Forge and throughout the national park.

We hope you visit the Smoky Mountains soon. Be sure to tag us in some of your photos. We would love to hear about your experience!

Total Immersion Into The Natural Environment

Another reason why youll love camping in the Smoky Mountains is because youll feel totally immersed into the natural environment! Wake up each morning to the ambiance of a gently flowing creek, birds chirping in the distance and other peaceful sounds of the forest! While its certainly understandable that some folks prefer the comforts and amenities of a hotel room, it is the campers who get the full Smoky Mountain experience!

Free Camping Near Great Smoky Mountains National Park

There are numerous opportunities for free camping in GreatSmoky Mountains National Park if you know where to look.

Well, not exactly in the national park but near thepark. Most of these free campgrounds are located in the national forestssurrounding the national park.

Although it`s primitive camping only at most of these free campsites, exploring these national forests, particularly camping in Cherokee National Forest, gives you a great taste of the Great Smoky Mountains without all of the crowds in the national park itself.

A few of the very best free camping areas are the Bear Creek HuntCamp, LakeSanteetlah, and Panther Creek

Campingat Lake Santeetlah is particularly beautiful and peaceful. If you can`tfind any of the free campsites, there are a multitude of cheap campsites in thesame general area.

Do note that most of these free campsites are dispersed camping areas without any amenities. They often lack any development .

A handful of the free campsites near Great Smoky Mountainsdo have basic amenities such as picnic tables, designated firepits, and vaulttoilets but plan for the experience to be completely primitive.

For tent campers, you might want to bring a camping toilet or, at least, know how to go to the bathroom outdoors.

Another idea is to bring a camping shower and learn about camping hygiene. You might consider bringing a complete camp kitchen to make cooking your favorite camping meals that much easier.

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Free Camping Near The Smoky Mountains National Park

One of the best things about the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is that its surrounded by National Forests and Wildlife Management Areas on all sides so you dont need to spend a dime in order to stay the night for free.

West of the park is the Nantahala National Forest with tens of RV and tent camping sites. Many of these campsites come with amenities such as fire rings, and vault toilets. A few of the campgrounds located here cost just $20 per night and have showers, flush toilets, and electric hookups. Free campsites in the Nantahala National forest have quick access to the Appalachian Trail and are dog-friendly so you can bring your pet in areas you wouldnt be able to throughout the great smoky mountains.

East of the park youll find the Pisgah National Forest. Pisgah offers free dispersed camping, tent camping, and RV campsites. This is an excellent place to spend the night if you want to stay nearby Ashville, Tennessee or take a morning drive along the Blue Ridge Parkway.

In the greater surrounding area, you can find free camping in the Cherokee National Forest, the Chattahoochee National Forest, and in the Harmen Den Wildlife Management Area.

Smoky Mountains Campgrounds: Yogi In The Smokies

Great Smoky Mountains  Backcountry Camping Family

Yogi in the Smokies is a full-service campground located within a pristine forest cove just north of the city of Cherokee, North Carolina on the banks of the picturesque Ravenfork River, a top destination for trout fishing in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The campground offers a plethora of overnight camping and lodging options, ranging from tent and RV hookup campsites to deluxe cabins offering modern amenities. Visitors can enjoy modern amenities like complimentary wireless internet, cable television access, and access to full-service bathhouses with modern showers and restrooms. Onsite amenities include a children’s playground, a heated family swimming pool, a game room, a camp store, and a day-use picnic pavilion. During peak season, planned activities offer fun for the entire family, while outdoor equipment rentals let visitors take advantage of the campground’s beautiful surroundings and opportunities for nearby outdoor activities.

317 Galamore Rd, Cherokee, NC 28719, Phone: 828-497-9151

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Great Smoky Mountain National Park Campgrounds

You can definitely camp within the boundaries of Great Smoky Mountain National Park, but you have to realize two things. One, these campsites are as highly competitive as tickets to a production of Hamilton during peak season. Two, youll have to be up for dry camping since there are no hookups offered in the park. So if youre up for it, be prepared for a magical camping experience.


This beautiful campground is a family favorite on account of the riverfront sites. The sites are spacious with a picnic table and fire ring. The bathhouses have flush toilets, but no showers.

Cades Cove

While Elkmont is the perfect place to have the Smokies mountain river experience, Cades Cove Campground puts you in the middle of the most iconic wildlife and scenic loop. The campground has a nice camp store with supplies, souvenirs, and ice cream. You can also rent bikes right onsite.

North of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Anchor Down

Located about 45 minutes north of Gatlinburg, this RV resort opened just a few years ago and the word spread quickly. The campground is on the shores of Douglas Lake, and the camp sites are legendarily Instagrammable. Many have large, custom stone fireplaces with water and mountain views. Anchor Down also has all the resort amenities you could want including a pool and lake beach with swimming and inflatables. There are also many options for watercraft rentals.

About Great Smoky Mountains National Park Camping

North Carolina’s Great Smoky Mountains National Park draws millions of visitors annually for its unbridled beauty and free admission. Expect long entrance lines but know that your experience will make it all worthwhile.

Great Smoky offers 10 front-country camping locations for tents and RVs. For those looking for a longer trek, the park has a host of backcountry campgrounds at just $4 per night. Ideally, you camp in the park. However, as this is the most visited national park, you may have to make other plans. If you cant stay in the park, the best camping near the Great Smoky Mountains is usually found in the nearby national forests. If youre looking for something with more amenities, the eclectic city of Asheville, NC is where youll want to be.

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Is Camping In The Smoky Mountains Free

All overnight camping in the Smoky Mountains requires reservations and permits. You must visit the parks backcountry permit website to make your reservations, pay fees, and print your permit before camping. If youre planning to camp in one of the established campgrounds, you can make reservations through

Smoky Mountains Campgrounds: Standing Indian Campground

Smokemont Campground Review | Best Campsites in the Great Smoky Mountains | Cherokee North Carolina

Standing Indian Campground is located less than 20 minutes from the city of Franklin, North Carolina, offering four campground areas with both reservation and first-come, first-served campground areas. The campground makes for a great launching-off point for exploring the Great Smoky Mountains National Park or the attractions of the gorgeous Nantahala National Forest. Tent and RV hookup campsites are showcased throughout the campground, complemented by modern amenities like flush toilets, showers, day-use picnic tables, and campfire rings. A dump station is offered for visitor convenience. Groups can make use of a lovely group camping area at Kimsey Creek. Nearby, excellent opportunities for big and small game hunting, fishing, whitewater rafting, and kayaking are offered within the national park’s boundaries.

Off Forest Development Rd 67, Franklin, NC 28734, Phone: 828-524-6441

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The The Great Smoky Mountains National Park Camping 25 Miles: Harmon Den Dispersed Camping

Address Cold Springs Road Hot Springs, North Carolina Elevation: 2795

Management Public Forest Service

The road in is Gravel. You may stay 14 nights at Harmon Den Dispersed Camping. Roadside camping is generally allowed beside most gravel roads. However, along Cold Springs Road in Harmon Den, roadside camping is permitted only at sites with a camping symbol.

These sites are designated to minimize damage to Cold Springs Creek. At primitive camps, you must provide your own water, bury all human waste and toilet paper, and take out your trash. Use existing fire rings, and never wash in a creek.


Management Public Forest Service

The road in is Paved. Santeetlah Lake, Pine Ridge Road NCSR #1147 is open April to October . There are 6-15 campsites at this location and the maximum RV length is See comments. You may stay 14 Days at Santeetlah Lake, Pine Ridge Road NCSR #1147. 10 primitive sites along Pine Ridge Road next to Santeetlah Lake. Sites P-1, P-2, P-4, P-5, P-7, and P-8, are very small and are suitable for tents or very small RVs. Site P-3 is only suitable for tents as there is only enough parking for a small vehicle.


Elevation: 1237

Management Public Forest Service


Elevation: 4184

Management Public Forest Service


Management Public Forest Service


Management Public Forest Service


Elevation: 6207

Management Public Forest Service


Elevation: 1611

Management Unknown

Discover The Best Free Camping Across The Usa

To be honest with you, we hate paying for camping. There are so many free campsites in America .

You should give it a try!

As a matter of fact, these free campsites are yours. Every time you pay federal taxes, youre contributing to these lands.

Become a FREE CAMPING INSIDER and join the 100,000 campers that love to score the best site!

Well send you the 50 Best Free Campsites in the USA . Access the list by submitting your email below:

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Will I Be Able To Camp In The Smoky Mountains This Summer Without Reservations

Campsites in the Smoky Mountains are a hot ticket in the summer. If you come to the area without reservations, theres a good chance that you will struggle to find a campsite. A few of the campgrounds in the national park require year-round reservations, but others require seasonal reservations between March and November.

Go Zip Lining At Legacy Mountain

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Legacy Mountain zip lines are close to Pigeon Forge and about 10 minutes off the Smoky Mountains parkway. Youll soar across the trees with epic views of the mountains. There are seven zip lines at 500 and speeds up to 50 mph. Its a once-in-a-lifetime adventure that creates lasting memories. This activity is for ages seven and older, and they offer group reservations.

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Why Youll Love Up The Creek Rv Camp

Every campsite has full hookups, a large patio, a fire ring, and picnic table, as well as WiFi and Cable! Best of all, the sites allow for privacy and room to enjoy the surroundings. This Smoky Mountain RV park may not have some of the fancy amenities of a resort-style park, but the stunning views and the affordable rates more than makeup for it. Up the Creek RV Camp is the embodiment of the classic camping experience!

Smoky Mountains Campgrounds: Deep Creek Campground

Deep Creek Campground is a beautiful campground located alongside the banks of picturesque Deep Creek, considered to be one of the most popular creeks within Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The primitive campground area offers traditional camping experiences set against the stunning backdrop of the Great Smoky Mountains, located within the park’s southeastern edge near the city of Gatlinburg. Visitors can choose from three group campsites or a plethora of primitive and electric hookup individual campsites, which offer lovely amenities like campfire rings, barbecue grills, and day-use picnic tables, along with access to flush toilets and drinking water. Nearby, visitors can access a variety of hiking trails leading to lovely waterfalls or make use of one of the park’s few areas for mountain biking.

107 Park Headquarters Road, Gatlinburg, TN 37738, Phone: 865-436-1200

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A Brief History Of Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Before the arrival of European settlers, Great Smoky Mountains National Park was the homeland of the Cherokee. The tribe had permanent towns, cultivated croplands, a sophisticated political system, and an extensive network of trails.

In 1830 the Indian Removal Act forced the Cherokee from their land, though some refused to leave and hid out in what would later become Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Some of the descendants of the Cherokee now live in the boundary just south of the park.

European settlers arrived in the valley between 1818 and 1821. By 1830 the settler population was over 270. They lived primitively, hunting off the land, growing food, and using timber to build houses.

But life changed drastically with the arrival of logging in the 1900s. Within 20 years the self-sufficiency of the settlers was replaced with a dependence on manufactured items, store-bought food, and money.

Loggers rapidly decimated the forest. If the Great Smoky Mountains National Park hadnt been formed in 1934, the entire ecosystem likely would have crumbled. The establishment of the park saved 20% of the forest that remained uncut at the time.

Today, Great Smoky Mountains is Americas most visited National Park, receiving upwards of 11 million visitors per year. Its also a UNESCO World Heritage Site and an International Biosphere Reserve.

Why Youll Love Smoky Mountain Premier Rv Resort

Great Smoky Mountains National Park Best Campsites

Because of the fantastic location, theres plenty to do in the area. One of the most popular attractions being the Smoky Mountain Adventure Tours off-road UTV tours that let you get a fix of adrenaline while appreciating the marvelous scenery! Of course, theres plenty to do on-site as well, including swimming in the pool, playing friendly games of horseshoes and disc golf, and working out in the fitness room.

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Cataloochee Campground East Best For Solitude

If you truly want to escape it all in a remote location in the Great Smoky Mountains, then Cataloochee is the best option for you. Its easy to escape the crowds and spend your days alone. They offer drinking water and flushing toilets, but no showers, so come prepared. If you love horseback riding, theres a horse camp on site where you can easily ride a horse. There are scenic trails nearby that offer spectacular viewing opportunities. If youre into hammock camping, youre allowed to bring your hammock here, as long as you follow several guidelines like a limit of 2 hammocks per tree and keeping the limit to trees that are 10 inches in diameter. Give yourself some quality alone time and head to Cataloochee.

Amazing Campgrounds Near Great Smoky Mountains National Park

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Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the most visited national park in the entire country. Its also pretty huge with dozens and dozens of campground options. So it can be pretty overwhelming to choose from all of the amazing campgrounds near Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

In fact, one of the most frequently questions asked in our private Facebook group is, Whats the best campground in the Smokies?

Well, theres no single answer to that question. Where you should stay will depend on what geographical area you want to be in and the type of environment you want to experience. There are campgrounds smack dab in the middle of Pigeon Forge with all the amenities and campgrounds in the heart of the national park without any hookups. And yes, its hard to pick just one out of all the amazing options. Perhaps thats why we ended up staying at three different campgrounds on our last visit to the Smokies. Just call us campground hoppers.

In other words, theres something for everyone. And well help you find the right one for your visit. Heres a roundup of 12 of the most amazing campgrounds in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park region. All of these campgrounds come highly recommended from experienced campers in the RVFTA community. Good luck finding your perfect place.

Heres a Google Maps list of the 12 campgrounds we are featuring in this roundup. .

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