Publish date:

Spotlight: The Best Camping Spots in the Smoky Mountains

If you're considering a trip to this unique region of the country, you should opt to stay in the great outdoors at one of the many campgrounds that the Smoky Mountains have to offer.

The Smoky Mountains are a vast expanse of picturesque peaks that span from North Carolina through Tennessee. With world-renowned animal life and plant diversity, this beautiful landscape is the most visited National Park.

If you're considering a trip to this unique region of the country, you should opt to stay in the great outdoors at one of the many campgrounds that the Smoky Mountains have to offer.

Deep Creek Campground

As one of the most popular campgrounds in the Smoky Mountains, you'll be sure to come across groups of other hikers or campers with similar interests at the Deep Creek Campground. If you’re camping alone, this campground’s hustle and bustle will make finding new friends a breeze.

This site offers both tent and camper accommodations with a beautiful backdrop of the Smoky Mountains. Located in the southeastern part of the park, Deep Creek has a large area for water recreation for the whole family. Whether you love to fish, kayak, tube, or just wade, Deep Creek can accommodate you. Don't forget to take the short 1.6 mile round hike through the park to visit both Indian Creek Falls and Tom Branch Falls.

Smokemont Campground

Smokemont Campground is the ideal place for history-lovers to visit. This site protects the historic structures that once called it home. With many artifacts and landscapes sharing the stories of European settlers and prehistoric Paleo Indians, you can indulge yourself in the rich cultural history of the Southern Appalachia area.

Located at about 2,200 feet in elevation, this campground offers hot summers and mild winters. No matter the spot you choose to set up camp, you'll have an unobstructed view of the gorgeous scenery comprised of rivers, streams, and of course, the Great Smoky Mountains.

Cades Grove Campground

Situated within a countryside valley of the Smoky Mountains, Cades Cove is one of the most popular year-round camping destinations for tourists. It provides many amazing opportunities to take in the wildlife that the Smoky Mountains has to offer.

From turkey and raccoons to white-tailed deer, you’ll be sure to spot the occasional forest friend. Be warned that black bears are also native to the area, so you’ll need to prepare accordingly with bear spray, proper food storage, and a demonstration on bear safety before you make the trip.

Cades Cove also offers easy hiking trails to soak in some of the local natural attractions like Abram Falls. This campground also provides access to horseback rides for those campers who’d prefer to traverse the land as the Cherokee Indians did.

Cataloochee Campground

In a more remote section of the Smoky Mountains, you'll find the Cataloochee Valley. This picturesque area provides beautiful views of the mountains, while you enjoy some local recreation. Activities like fishing and hiking can be enjoyed in this remote area away from the crowds that more common park campgrounds experience.

Recommended Articles

If you love horseback riding, in particular, then this is the campground for you. Cataloochee offers miles of trails that you can take in on horseback.

Elkmont Campground

If you enjoy being surrounded by other tourists and getting to know new people, then the Elkmont Campground is the right destination for you. This location is situated at an elevation of 2,150 feet and offers 200 rental campsites. From paved driveways to gravel tent pads, each campsite comes with picnic tables and fire rings.

Elkmont is located close to Gatlinburg, Tennessee, and is located alongside the Little River. This provides the perfect place for those campers who want to enjoy some water recreation. When planning your trip to Elkmont, don't forget to hike the 80-foot Laurel Falls Trail.

Big Creek Horse Camp

This campground location is perfect for the equine enthusiast who just doesn't want to leave home without their favorite mare. Located on the northeastern side of the Smoky Mountain National Park, this Tennessee campground is situated right along Big Creek.

Offering endless miles of breathtaking trails, you'll never get bored at Big Creek Horse Camp. This facility offers on-site hitching rails and horse stalls. It's important to note that this campsite is only available to those with a horse, so plan accordingly.

Things to do in the Smoky Mountains

Visits to the Smoky Mountains provide breathtaking views that you just have to see in-person. After you catch your breath, you may be wondering what these mountains have to offer in terms of recreation. Let's take a look at some of the exhilarating activities you can do while visiting the area.


You can't go wrong with a hike when you’re hoping to connect with nature and take in the views on the trails. There are over 800 miles of trails throughout the park ranging from easy to advanced. You can find a number of waterfalls close to any campsite you choose to visit. These water features are sure to please even the youngest of campers.


This National Park location offers year-round fishing for tourists. You can catch a variety of trout at different elevation levels.

Wild trout tends to be found at the higher elevations. You'll be able to reel in some rainbow, brook, and brown trout that can grow to 20 inches in length. You can also fish for bass on lower elevations offering smallmouth bass fishing opportunities.

Visit Pigeon Forge

You can't visit the Smoky Mountains without spending some time in Pigeon Forge. This mountainous town is home to the famous Dollywood which offers both an amusement park and splash zone. If you’re craving a taste of city life, you can purchase tickets to a show at Dolly Parton's Stampede for a full dinner-and-a-show experience, and you can even visit the RMS Titanic Museum.

Whether you’re visiting the Smoky Mountains for its scenic views, hiking trails, or the trip to the famous Dollywood, your stay is bound to be the trip of a lifetime. Maximize your time by conducting some research beforehand and planning an itinerary of activities. You’ll want to squeeze every second of fun out of your long-weekend stay. 

Related Content