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Campgrounds in the Smokies offer a special experience; immersing visitors in the park. They are all well-wooded, and the sites are spaced decently apart. They offer restrooms with flush toilets and running water, but don't have showers.
Cades Cove, Elkmont, and Smokemont are the most popular campgrounds in the park, simply becasue they are convenient to the main part of the park and sites like Cades Cove, Roaring Fork Motor Trail, and Clingman's Dome.
Cades Cove This is the most developed camground in the park, with a general store offering bicycle rentals and soft serve ice cream. A stream borders one side of the campground. This is a good option for those wanting a little less rustic camping experience, or who want to be close to Cades Cove.
Elkmont Located between Tremont and Sugarlands, Elkmont is the most centrally located campground in the park. A creek flows around the perimeter, and there is a nature trail.
Smokemont The only "big" campground on the North Carolina side.
For return visitors or anyone who wants some peace and quiet, these campgrounds offer a quiter, more secluded viewpoint of the park. Located around the eastern and southern fringe, they are often much less convenient to the main part of the park, but still offer great hiking and other activities. Even during peak periods in the summer and fall, these places remain uncrowded.
Abrams Creek First-come, first serve. This campground has 16 sites and sits at elevation 1,125 feet. Can accommodate RVs up to 12 feet in length. Campground has running water and bathroom facilities, but NO electric hookups or shower facilities. 9 of the sites are directly riverside. River is perfect for swimming on a hot summer day.
Big Creek Big Creek campground is the smallest campground in the Smokies. There are only 12 campsites, all in the shade. 5 of them are creekside, but it is a short 30 to 50 foot walk down an embankment to get to the river. The parking lot for the campsites are within view, but not next to the camping pads. There are no rv hookups and no generators allowed. There is one male and 1 female bathroom and a laundry sink in the campground and 1 a short walk away in the picnic area. The area used to be an old logging camp, and there is a little evidence of this left in the form of old foundation blocks. There is an old rusted TVA survey sign and a marker dated 1929 embedded in a rock by camping site #12. The campground is well maintained, with new level camping pads. Clean campground with attentive maintence, rangers & campground host. It is situated right off interstate 40 exit 451 halfway between Knoxville, TN and Asheville, NC. It is also a popular hiking spot with many trails.
Cosby This is the most convenient of the lesser campgrounds, and offers seven great hiking trails in the immediate area. higher then average bear activity.
Cataloochee Often called the "little Cades Cove" Cataloochee is another settlement area with many homesteads and churches. This is where elk have been released.
Balsam Mountain Probably the least convenient of all the camgrounds, it is also the highest up and the most secluded. Not much hiking, but Balsam Mountain Road begins here. It takes about thirty minutes to reach civilization from the campground.
Deep Creek Well-known for the three large waterfalls located within an easy walk of the campground, as well as for good fishing and tubing on the creek. Like Cosby, a little more convenient to the main area of the park (about twnety mintues from Ocanalufftee Visitor Center).