RV Camping in Great Smoky Mt National Park

RV Camping in Great Smoky Mt National Park
Great Smoky Mountains National Park protects one of the eastern United States' largest wilderness areas: the folded ridges, diverse forests and varied wildlife of the Southern Appalachian Mountains on the Tennessee-North Carolina border. While some visitors prefer to rough it in the Great Smokies' extensive back country, others want to set up a base. Most of the park's campgrounds can accommodate RVs, but none of the facilities have showers or water/electrical hookups.

Abrams Creek

This campground, at 1,125 feet on the park's western border, has a $14 fee, as of January 2010, and an RV length restriction of 12 feet. It is open from late winter to fall. Paths in the campground lead to Rabbit Creek and Cooper Road hiking trails.

Balsam Mountain

Balsam Mountain Campground's RV-length restriction is 30 feet. There is a $14 camping fee, as of January 2010, at Balsam Mountain, the park's highest established campground at 5,310 feet on its southeastern border. It is usually open from spring to fall, and has a nature trail beginning near its entrance.

Cades Cove

Cades Cove Campground, located at 1,807 feet in the famous, eponymous valley in the western portion of the park, is open year-round and charges between $17 and $20 for use, as of January 2010. There is a 40-foot RV length restriction. The most level campground in the park provides access to the Cove's scenic vistas, plentiful wildlife (especially white-tailed deer) and historic structures.

Cataloochee

RVs up to 31 feet are allowed at Cataloochee Campground, 2,610 feet high in the eastern part of the park and usually open from spring to fall. There is a $17 charge, as of January 2010. The area harbors the majority of the park's elk, reintroduced in the early 2000s.

Cosby

Cosby Campground in the northern part of the park (at 2,459 feet) has a 25-foot RV length restriction and a $14 fee, as of January 2010. It is usually open from spring to late summer. A number of hiking trails are easily accessed from the campground, including the Gabes Mountain and Snake Den Ridge routes.

Deep Creek

Deep Creek is the only developed campground in the south-central portion of the park. Located at an elevation of 1,800 feet, it has a 26-foot RV length restriction and a $17 fee, as of January 2010. It is usually open from spring to fall. Hikers can link to a number of paths here, from the half-mile Juney Whank Falls Trail to longer routes like Deep Creek Trail.

Elkmont

Trailers to 32 feet and motor homes to 35 feet are permitted at Elkmont Campground, at 2,150 feet in the northern portion of the Smokies. Usually open from late winter to fall, Elkmont---the largest campground in the park, and near the Little River Trail---charges between $17 to $23 for sites, as of January 2010.

Look Rock

There is no size limit for RVs at Look Rock campground, open typically from spring to fall. Look Rock, where campsites cost $14, as of January 2010, lies just outside the western boundary of the park and is near the eponymous lookout tower, which provides expansive views of the Smokies, depending on weather conditions.

Smokemont

Smokemont Campground, at 2,198 feet in the south, charges between $17 and $20, as of January 2010, and has a 35-foot length restriction for trailers and a 40-foot limit for motor homes. Like Cades Cove, it is open year-round. The campground provides immediate access to a nature path and two major hiking trails, Smokemont Loop and Bradley Fork.

Article Written By Ethan Schowalter-Hay

Ethan Schowalter-Hay is a writer and naturalist living in Oregon. He has written for the "Observer," the Bureau of Land Management and various online publishers. He holds a Bachelor of Science in wildlife ecology and a graduate certificate in geographic information systems from the University of Wisconsin.

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