Camping in the Smokies
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The Smokies offers "frontcountry" camping and "backcountry" camping. Frontcountry camping is camping in developed campsites beside where you can park your car. Backcountry camping requires hiking with your camping supplies (backpacking) to a remote campsite or shelter. There is a small charge for frontcountry camping. Backcountry camping is free, but requires a permit. The free permit is available from most ranger stations and visitor centers.

Frontcountry Camping

The frontcountry campsites each have individual picnic tables and grills. Restrooms and running water are available in all campgrounds. There are no showers, electrical hookups, or water hookups at any of the campgrounds. Many campgrounds with RV hookups are available outside the park in Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg, Townsend, and Cherokee. Most campgrounds are closed in the winter. Smokemont and Cades Cove are open all year.

  Campsite Description
Abrams Creek
  • 16 campsites
  • $14
  • Located along a creek in Townsend, Abrams Creek campground is a small, out-of-the-way campground that is usually not very busy. Several hiking trails are available. The Cooper Road hiking trail, a 7.5 mile loop, starts at the back of the campground. A 10 mile hike takes you to Abrams Falls. It is also a good spot for fishing and tubing.
    Balsam Mountain
  • 46 campsites
  • $14
  • Balsam Mountain campground is a small, out-of-the-way campground well suited for tent camping, but not designed for RVs. It is located in Cherokee, NC, and is a short drive from the beautiful Blue Ridge Parkway.
    Big Creek
  • 12 campsites
  • $14
  • Tents only. No RVs. Big Creek campground is located along the Big Creek in NC. It is generally not crowded and provides good hiking trails in the forest and and swiming holes in the creek.
    Cades Cove
  • 161 campsites
  • $17-$20
  • Cades Cove is one of the most visited areas in the park. It has a large diversity of plants an animals and is one of the best places in the park to see deer. Several hiking trails and horseback riding trails are located in Cades Cove as well as an 11 mile loop road accessible to bikes and motor vehicles.
  • 27 campsites
  • $17
  • The Cataloochee Creek provides one of the best fishing spots of any of the Smokies Campgrounds. The long, rough gravel road to the campground discourages RVs. Great hiking trails in the area include Boogerman Trail and Little Cataloochee Trail.
  • 157 campsites
  • $14
  • Cosby Campground is a spacious campground located in Cosby, TN, about 30 minutes from Gatlinburg and the arts and crafts community. The many trees provide lots of shade. Hiking and fishing are available.
    Deep Creek
  • 108 campsites
  • $17
  • Three waterfalls (Indian Creek Falls, Juneywhank Falls, and Tom's Branch Falls) are located withing hiking distance of the Deep Creek campground. Good fishing holes are also found near the campground.
  • 220 campsites
  • $17-$23
  • Elkmont is located on a river with great tubing opportunities. Many great hiking trails are also located near Elkmont.
    Look Rock
  • 92 campsites
  • $14
  • Located on the Foothills Parkway near Maryville, TN, the Look Rock Campground offers great mountain views and is generally not very crowded. The short hike to the Look Rock observation towers offers an amazing 360 degree view of the mountains.
  • 140 campsites
  • $17-20
  • Smokemont campground is located near a river that provides great tubing and wading. It is a short drive to Gatlinburg.

    Backcountry Camping

    Backcountry camping requires a free permit available from most ranger stations and vistor centers. Backcountry camping is allowed only in designated campsites or shelters.

    Reservations are required to stay in a shelter. A few campsites also require reseverations. For reserations, call (865) 436-1231. For other inforation about backcountry camping, call (865) 436-1297. A map showing all of the backcountry sites is available through the Smokies Bookstore