Name: Big Creek Campground
Nearest Gateway City: Gatlinburg, TN (32 miles) or Maggie Valley, NC (34 miles)
Camp Sites: 12
Fee: $17.50 per night
Dates Open: April 15 – October 30, 2022
Group Campsites: 1 (max 25 people)
Fee: $50 per night
Dates Open: April 15 – October 30, 2022
Maximum RV Length: No RVs Allowed
Directions to Big Creek Campground
Big Creek Campground is one of the most remote campgrounds in the park. It is in the northeast corner of Great Smoky Mountains National Park about 30 minutes from Newport, North Carolina.
From I-40: Take Exit 451 and proceed to Waterville Road. Follow Waterville Road approximately 2.4 miles to Big Creek. Big Creek Campground is at the end of the road.
The tent-only campsites are at the very back of the campground. You will drive past the ranger’s station, the horse park, and the group camp to get there.
The parking area for individual campsites is directly in front of the campsites.
Big Creek Campground Description
Big Creek Campground is the smallest of the park’s campgrounds, containing just 12 individual campsites. However, it also has one group campsite, a horse camp, and a picnic area for non-campers.
Each campsite has a tent pad, a picnic table, and a fire ring with an attached cooking grate.
The campsites sit next to Big Creek and offers anglers a chance to fish for their dinner. We heard the fishing is good here, especially in the spring, although you do need a fishing license.
RELATED: Fishing in Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Several trails begin at this campground. Baxter Creek Trail, Big Creek Trail, and Chestnut Branch Trail are just three you can explore.
Mouse Creek Falls is a spectacular 35’ tall waterfall reachable via Big Creek Trail.
If you really want to venture out, hike Chestnut Branch all the way to the Appalachian Trail. You will arrive at the AT in just over an hour if you are a steady hiker.
The AT is historic, so spend some time walking, and then backtrack to the campground. I suggest spending an entire morning or afternoon exploring.
RELATED: 38 Popular Day Hikes
Big Creek Campground Amenities
Big Creek Campground has cold running water and several restrooms with flushing toilets. A set of portable toilets are near the ranger station at the entrance.
Two of the restrooms are wheelchair accessible.
A campground host is on hand to provide information for guests. The host office is located in the middle of the grounds next to the group campground.
This is one of the few campgrounds with a pay telephone on the property. That’s great, but who doesn’t have a mobile phone? I suppose it is likely that coverage is not good here.
DOWNLOAD: Big Creek Campground Site Map
Big Creek Group Campground
If you have a large group, between 7 and 25 people, use the group campground. Smaller groups need to use the individual sites.
The group campground has picnic tables and a fire ring with a cooking grate.
There is only one group campground, so unlike the individual campsites, you must reserve it. The parking area for the group campground has enough spaces for 5 vehicles.
Reservations and Registration
You do not need a reservation for individual campsites at Big Creek Campground; it is on a first-come-first-served basis. However, you do need to register and pay a fee.
The fee for an individual campsite is $17.50 per night.
When you arrive, simply find a vacant campsite, and fill out the registration envelope located at the entrance billboard. Deposit the camping fee in the drop box.
You may check-in any time after noon on any day of the week. Checkout is anytime before noon the following day. If you want to extend your stay, you must re-register before noon using the same procedure you did when you arrived.
To reserve the group campground, visit Recreation.gov or call (877) 444-6777. You can reserve the site up to one year in advance.
The cost is $50.00 per night. Taxes, discounts, or other charges may apply. Be sure to ask when you make your reservations.
IMPORTANT: Prices are subject to change. Additional fees, taxes, or discounts may be applied.
RELATED: Campground Regulations
Nearby Points of Interest
Big Creek Trail is a moderately difficult hike, but the waterfall is beautiful two miles in. Gabes Mountain Trail is about half an hour from the campground.