Great Smoky Mountains National Park Campgrounds
The nine campgrounds inside Great Smoky Mountains National Park are a fantastic place to get back to nature. Why stay in a hotel when you can sleep under the stars and the magnificent trees inside the park?
Each campground offers a unique experience. Whether you are an individual getting some alone time, or a group of seven or more, the park has what you need.
NOTE: Officially, ten campgrounds exist inside the park. Look Rock Campground will be added to our website. You can access the information here: Frontcountry Camping – Great Smoky Mountains National Park (U.S. National Park Service) (nps.gov)
Amenities at All Campgrounds
All park campgrounds have cold running water and restrooms with flush toilets. In addition, each campsite is outfitted with a picnic table and a fire ring with a grate for cooking.
Campgrounds do not have showers, electric, or water hookups. When you check in, ask the attendant where the nearest shower facility is located. Local surrounding communities do have available showers.
IMPORTANT: A few campsites at Cades Cove, Elkmont, and Smokemont have 5-amp electrical outlets reserved for those with medical needs (i.e. CPAP machines, etc). Be sure to mention your medical need for electricity when making the reservation.
Five of the campgrounds accept reservations: Cades Cove, Cataloochee, Cosby, Elkmont, and Smokemont. However, if space is available, walk-up, same-day reservations can be made on site, with the exception of Cataloochee.
We recommend that you make reservations in advance to guarantee you have a spot. These camping areas are popular and fill up quickly during the high season.
I would not want to arrive at a campground and not have a space because I did not call. You can make reservations up to six months in advance for individual campsites.
IMPORTANT: Cataloochee is the only campground that requires a reservation prior to arrival. ALL reservations for Cataloochee Campground must be made at Recreation.gov or by calling (877) 444-6777.
Same day reservations for Cataloochee are acceptable, but they must be made online or at the above phone number before arrival. Reservations are not available at the facility.
All other campgrounds operate on a first-come-first-served basis.
RELATED: Campground Regulations
Group campgrounds accommodate groups of seven or more. Keep in mind that these are “tent only” facilities. Guests in RVs, campers, pop-ups, buses, etc, must use other facilities.
Group campgrounds are located near the individual camps. The seven with sites available for groups include Big Creek, Cades Cove, Cataloochee, Cosby, Deep Creek, Elkmont, and Smokemont.
Just like the other campgrounds, group campsites do not have showers, electric, or water hookups. They do have cold running water and restrooms with flush toilets.
All group campsites require a reservation. You may reserve group campsites at Recreation.gov or by calling (877) 444-6777, up to one year in advance.
For information about specific camping areas, please see the following articles. We have included directions, campground amenities, nearby points of interest, fees, opening and closing dates, and more.
1. Abrams Creek Campground
Abrams Creek Campground is the second smallest campground in Great Smoky Mountains National Park with only 16 campsites. However, the location is fantastic for driving along the Foothills Parkway and exploring south of the park. No reservations needed.
2. Cades Cove Campground
Cades Cove Campground is located near the entrance/exit of Cades Cove. Beautiful trees and the Abrams Creek define this campground with a primitive feel. A campground store featuring a snack bar, ranger station, bike rental, and horse stables, are a welcome benefit. A great campground is a fantastic location.
3. Elkmont Campground
Elkmont Campground is the largest and busiest of the campgrounds located inside Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Great location with historic buildings, fishing, hiking, and a river to dip your feet in. A beautiful campground, just minutes from Gatlinburg or Townsend.
4. Cosby Campground
Cosby Campground is a remote camp with 157 sites. Three group campsites accommodate up to 60 people. This campground is mostly tent camping, although 15 sites are for recreational vehicles. Just 32 minutes from Gatlinburg near Cosby, Tennessee.
5. Big Creek Campground
Big Creek Campground is located in the far northeastern corner of the park. Remote, beautiful, and intimate. Only 12 "tents-only" campsites, a group campground, and a horse camp. No RVs allowed.
6. Cataloochee Campground
Cataloochee Campground is a small, remote campground with 27 individual sites. Avoid the crowds, fish, hike, and enjoy the historical Cataloochee Valley. Located near the Tennessee and North Carolina border off 1-40.
7. Balsam Mountain Campground
Balsam Mountain Campground is the highest elevation campground in the park at 5,310 feet. Cool nights, even in the summer, make this a comfortable choice. Great views and not crowded. No reservations needed. Attendant on duty.
8. Smokemont Campground
Smokemont Campground is located near Oconaluftee Visitor Center outside Cherokee, NC. Open year round for tent camping. Forty-seven sites are RV Only. Two sites with electric. A beautiful campground with a horse stable for horse rental.
9. Deep Creek Campground
Deep Creek Campground near Maggie Valley, NC is a fantastic place to camp if you want to tube, fish, or hike. It is far from the largest campground with only 92 campsites, but it is a busy one. Visitors love this campground and return year after year.