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Free Camping Great Smoky Mountains

Free North Carolina Camping Spots Fishers Landing

Great Smoky Mountains National Park Camping Campgrounds and RV parks


Elevation: 4899

Management: Public Fish and Wildlife Service

Camping area in the Northwest corner on North Carolina. Located within the Pond Mountain Wildlife Management: area. This camp was makes a great home base while hunting the area, but open to everyone. Horseback riding is allowed during certain times of the year.

National Parks And Forests

While there is no free camping available within the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Cherokee National Forest shares a boundary with the national park and offers up some amazing places for free wilderness camping.

The areas with designated sites for dispersed camping are Citico Creek Area and the French Broad Creek Area. These areas also provide recreational opportunities for hiking, bicycling, and creek-play.

Citico Creek Area is known for its ample fishing opportunities . If staying at the French Broad Creek Area, youll need to look for signs directing you to the Paint Creek Corridor, as this is where the designated dispersed campsites are located. The Paint Creek Corridor is known for its scenic drive and picturesque picnic opportunities.

All of the dispersed camping sites within the Cherokee National Forest are primitive, without running water or electricity. Be sure to check out the Cherokee National Forest website for any restrictions or warnings before heading out.

Additional National Parks in Tennessee

Horse Campsites At The Great Smoky Mountains

Horseback riding is another fun way to experience the National Park. Fortunately, there are 5 areas within the park where you can tie up your stock overnight without having to leave the area. Anthony Creek, Big Creek, Cataloochee, Round Bottom, and Tow String are all horse camps.

You can learn more about the rules and regulations of horse camping in the smokies here.

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Top 10 Campgrounds And Rv Parkssmoky Mountains

Every year, people from all over the world head to Tennessee to get a glimpse of the mighty mountain ranges, perhaps the most popular of which is the Great Smoky Mountains. The lush landscapes are filled with diverse plant and animal life, making for wonderful sights. The mountains are especially popular in the fall months when the leaves start to change and the mountains are covered with striking shades of orange and red.

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is without a doubt the best way to experience the Smokies. Miles upon miles of hiking trails wind through the hills, taking visitors on an adventure unlike any other. Mighty waterfalls, rushing mountain streams, towering trees, and abundant wildlife are among the sights to be seen.

With so much natural wonders, its no surprise that the Smoky Mountains are a popular destination among campers. Seeing as its one of the best RV trips in Tennessee, youd probably like to see these breathtaking mountains for yourself. But where do you start when planning a trip? Well, finding a good place to camp is a good choice! Thats what were here for weve gathered the top RV trailer parks and campgrounds near the Smoky Mountains. Take a look at the parks, pick your favorite, then youll be ready to book a site and start your adventure!

  • Showers: Yes
  • Pets Allowed: Yes

Free North Carolina Boondocking

Big Creek Campground (great Smoky Mountains National Park)

If you enjoy camping, there are numerous possibilities for free camping in North Carolina. In the Appalachian Mountains, near the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, there are several fantastic possibilities. Greensboro, Winston-Salem, and High Point, all in the Piedmont region, offer wonderful options for people interested in history and urban camping. The inner coastal range is home to some of the best BBQ in the world, as well as an interesting historical site. Camping along the coast and on the outer banks is ideal for water lovers. There are several boondocking spots in North Carolina, no matter where you look.

North Carolina is a state that is as gorgeous as it is diverse in natural treasures, from the beaches of Cape Hatteras to the ancient highlands of Great Smoky Mountain National Park. Theres an outdoor experience waiting for you, whether its a day of surfing in the Atlantic Ocean or a hike up Mount Mitchell, the tallest mountain east of the Mississippi.

If free tent camping in NC amid sand dunes isnt your thing, pack your belongings and head to the mountains of Western North Carolina, an area known across the southeast for its abundance of outdoor recreation opportunities. You wont run out of reasons to go outside, whether youre rafting down the Nantahala River through the magnificent and isolated Nantahala National Forest or hiking the 1,175-mile Mountains-to-Sea Trail that runs the length of North Carolina.

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What Are The Best Free Camping Spots In The Smoky Mountains

There are no free campgrounds in the Smoky Mountains. However, you can get to camp near the Smoky Mountains at some free nearby campsites. It is important to note these campsites provide primitive camping options that are not for everybody.

Free camping sites near the Smokies include the Nantahala National Forest, Cherokee National Forest, Pisgah National Forest, and Harmon Den Wildlife Management Area.

Can You Camp On Public Land In West Virginia

Even though its our tenth smallest state, West Virginia has more than 12 million acres of national forest. The National Park Service maintains lots of acreages, too. Thats great because it means lots of places for free camping in beautiful, protected settings.

In general, state and federal agencies that maintain public lands allow camping when it doesnt conflict with other uses. For us, this means lots of wonderful options for camping for free in places that are essentially nature preserves.

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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.

Free North Carolina Dispersed Camping Locations Fires Creek Dispersed Camping

Elkmont Campground in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. Remote but, close to Gatlinburg, TN


Elevation: 2277

Management: Public Forest Service

The road in is Dirt. Avery Creek Roadside Camping is open year round, weather permitted. There are 6-15 campsites at this location and the maximum RV length is 25 feet. You may stay 14 days at Avery Creek Roadside Camping. Free campsites along Avery Creek, just north of Davidson River. Being close to a paved road, these campsites are very popular. Small rigs only as the parking is just pullouts along the road. The campsites are blocked by boulders. Campsite eleven is high up on a steep mountain but its totally worth it, if thats your bag.

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Is Dispersed Camping Legal In National Parks

Yes, generally speaking, dispersed camping is legal in national parks, but it depends on which park. Many national parks allow backcountry camping which is primarily tent camping, but only in specific areas of the park. Many others simply dont allow it at all. The National Park Service allows dispersed camping in many National Recreation Areas. The only way to know for sure is to walk into a park visitor center, and ask.

Raleigh Oaks Rv Resort

Kick back, relax, and camp incomfort and style at Raleigh Oaks RV Resort.

This popular North Carolina RVpark has just over 100 sites with full hookups. Both back-in and pull-thruspots are available. Wi-Fi and a slew of additional amenities, like a swimmingpool and mini golf, are available to guests. Take your stay to the next levelby renting a hand-crafted cottage instead.

But perhaps the best reason tostay here is the proximity to Raleigh.Its the excellent home base for campers interested in exploring NorthCarolinas state capital.

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Also Check: Channel Islands National Park Camping

Nearby Hotels Cabins Airbnb`s

There are a wide variety of hotels, cabins, and guest housesnear Great Smoky Mountains.

Almost all of the areacommunities, especially gatewaycommunities, have at least a small selection of lodging available.

Gatlinburg, to the north of the park in Tennessee, has the most accommodations, including large hotels like the Hilton Garden Gatlinburg, budget motels like Motel 6 Gatlinburg Smoky Mountains, and cabins like Parkside Cabin Rentals.

On the southern side of the park, Cherokee has numerousaccommodations, such as Harrah`sCherokee Casino Resort, HamptonInn Cherokee, and GreatSmokys Cabin Rentals.

Airbnbis another option for finding guesthouses, cabins, and other lodging near GreatSmoky Mountains National Park.

What You Need To Know About Free Camping

Camping in Deep Creek, Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Because most free campsites do not provide any amenities, be prepared to provide your own:

  • Water
  • Power
  • Waste Management
  • It is also good practice to take a close look at the prospective site before you bring your RV or trailer to the location. This confirms that your rig can handle the road access and will fit into the camping area without problems.

    You can do this by driving your tow vehicle or toad into the destination first, or by utilizing Google Maps with Street View and Satellite View. Some tech-savvy campers even send a drone over the campsite for real-time images.

    Here are 5 terrific locations in the Volunteer State that provide free camping:

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    What People Are Saying About Smoky Bear Campground & Rv Park

    Awesome campsites. The staff is very friendly and treat you like family. We loved the campsite and stayed an extra 2 days. Thank you for a great time. Chad, Google reviews


    Learn more on the locationswebsite!


    • Daily/Weekly/Monthly Rates: from $39/none/none # of RV Sites: 175 Full Hookups: Yes 30/50 Amp: Both Back-in/Pull-through Sites: Back-in Pool/Hot tub: Both Showers: Yes Pets Allowed: Yes Additional Services: Fire Rings
    • Arcade
    • WiFi

    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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    Sams Throne Recreation Area Arkansas

    Sams Throne Recreation Area in Ozark National Forest is popular among campers, hikers, photographers, and nature enthusiasts alike. Theres no fee to stay in the Newton County campground, but previous visitors have warned that those with large RVs may struggle to make their way toward the campsites on small, winding roads.

    Free North Carolina Boondocking Locations Kistler Memorial Roadside Camping

    Great Smoky Mountains National Park Campsites | How to get a campsite Smoky Mountain National Park

    AddressNC 1238 Marion, North CarolinaElevation: 3307

    Management: Public Forest Service

    You may stay 14 nights at Kistler Memorial Roadside Camping. Dispersed primitive car camping on the edge of the Linville Wilderness Gorge. See a spot, pull in and set up. However, you must camp at least 200 ft away from any trailheads.

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    South Mountains State Park

    Located in one of the most ruggedregions of North Carolina, South Mountains State Park is a mecca for winter camperslooking for the most remote camping experience possible.

    It boasts a single drive-incampground with a mix of tent and RV sites. No hookups are available except fortwo sites with electric hookups. Although the camping area is primitive, amodern bathroom with hot showers is located nearby. 24 additional backcountrycampsites and an equestrian camping area are alsoavailable.

    During the summer, mountain bikingand hiking are by far the most popular activities with horseback riding a closethird. Other visitors simply like to take in the gorgeous mountain scenery,including a cascading 80-foot waterfall. Winter is the perfect time to visit ifyou prefer to explore in solitude as the number of daytime and overnightvisitors goes way down when cold weather hits.

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    Camping For Appalachian Trail Hikers

    Roughly 71 miles of the 2,180-mile long AppalachianTrail passes through Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

    In fact, the highest point of this famous trail is locatedin the park the 6,625-foot summit of Clingmans Dome.

    Most section hikers and backpackers will need around 7 daysto hike the portion of the trail that passes through the national park .

    Appalachian Trail thru-hikers often spend much less time on the trail, between 3 and 5 days, depending on their pace.

    No matter how many days you plan to spend camping in Great Smoky Mountains National Park while hiking the Appalachian Trail, it`s important to apply for an overnight backcountry permit.

    Specialbackcountry permits are available for Appalachian Trail thru-hikers toensure that all thru-hikers have a place to stay overnight.

    Do note that, unlike some sections of the trail, those hiking through Great Smoky Mountains must camp in designated backcountry campsites or shelters.

    The national park provides 12 totalshelters along the 71-mile stretch of trail. These shelters fill up quicklyduring the prime hiking season, especially in rainy weather.

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    Where To Buy Groceries/supplies

    Fortunately, stocking up on groceries and other supplies iseasy when camping in the Smokies.

    Several towns are located just outside the park`s borders,including Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, Townsend, Cherokee, Bryson City, and more.Most of these gatewaycommunities have a variety of grocery stores, gas stations, general stores,and more.

    Slightly further away from the national park are Knoxville and Asheville . Both of these cities have even more options to buy groceries and supplies, including REI and Cabela`s as well as smaller mom and pop outdoor retailers.

    Do note that options for groceries and supplies are limitedwithin the national park itself.

    Cades Cove Campground Store, Elkmont Campground Concession,Smokemont Riding Stables, and Cades Cove Visitor Center sell limited groceriesand supplies as well as snacks, limited prepared food, and beverages.

    Do note that there are no gas stations within Great SmokyMountains National Park.

    Free North Carolina Boondocking And Camping Spots In The National Forests

    Big Creek Campground (great Smoky Mountains National Park)

    Were all aware that camping on the East Coast is both limited and expensive. Fortunately, this isnt the case in North Carolina if you know where to search. The amount of national forest land in North Carolina is one of the main draws for free camping. Within specified camping areas, dispersed camping is available. These areas are undeveloped and lack amenities such as restrooms, showers, electricity, and other amenities found in developed campgrounds. As a result, its critical to plan ahead of time and pack out anything you brought into the camp. After all, being well-prepared in any scenario allows for greater enjoyment and relaxation.

    Despite the limits, you will quickly discover that there are a plethora of sites to select from, many of which are entirely free and in beautiful places. Another key thing to know is that camping on public land is limited to 14 days . This safeguards the land and ecosystem from normal human activity while also allowing others to enjoy the place. And, fortunately, there are many of free camping spots scattered over the huge National Forests.

    For starters, North Carolina contains four national forests that range from the Great Smoky Mountains to the Atlantic coasts extensive stretches of seashore. With so much natural beauty, its no surprise that 7 million people visit these forests each year, making North Carolina a favorite destination for outdoor enthusiasts from all over the world.

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    Activities On The Natchez Trace Parkway

    Travelers can enjoy other recreational activities like exploring hiking trails, bicycling, and horse-back riding on the Natchez Trace Parkway. The section that winds through Tennessee is known for its waterfalls and hiking trails. Cultural enthusiasts will enjoy the Parkways rich history and landmarks.

    The National Park Service has designated five campgrounds available to cyclists only. These bicycle-only free park campgrounds are first come, first serve and are spaced out to allow for a typical days ride between sites .

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