The Great Smoky Mountains National Park offers backcountry campsites that are meant for backpack hikers. Several miles of hiking are necessary to reach the designated campsites in the park's backcountry. A permit is required for all backcountry camping. You can obtain a backcountry permit at various locations throughout the park, including at the Oconaluftee Visitor Center, Sugarlands Visitor Center, Twentymile Ranger Station and Fontana Marina. Twenty-four designated sites and all camping shelters are available to backcountry hikers. When hiking, expect to see sights, such as mountain vistas, streams, waterfalls and historic structures.
The national park accommodates big groups of campers. Group campgrounds allow tent sites only and no shower facilities and electric hookups are available. Inquire about the nearest comfort stations in the surrounding communities when checking in at your campground. A minimum of eight campers is required and the maximum duration of stay is seven nights. The designated group campgrounds are Big Creek, Cades Cove, Cataloochee, Cosby, Elkmont, Deep Creek and Smokemont. Facilities vary at each campground but may include fire rings, fishing streams, picnic tables, boat ramps and comfort stations. You can bicycle with your group in the nearby Cades Cove Loop Road-an 11-mile one way road that is commonly used as a bicycling area. Bicyclists can enjoy wildlife viewing and touring nineteenth century structures.
The National Park has frontcountry campgrounds at 10 locations, including Abrams Creek, Balsam Mountain, Big Creek, Cades Cove, Cataloochee and others. Frontcountry campgrounds are developed with amenities like restroom facilities, flush toilets, picnic tables and fire grates. Tents, pop-up trailers and RVs are allowed. Campers can enjoy fishing for species like rainbow, brook, brown trout, smallmouth bass and rock bass in the surrounding streams.