There are 10 developed campgrounds in Great Smokies, five on the Tennessee side of the park. None of the campgrounds have showers or hook-ups, and each campground has different size limits for RVs. You can make reservations up to six months in advance for sites at Elkmont, Smokemont, Cosby, and Cades Cove by calling 877/444-6777 or online at www.recreation.gov. All other sites are on a first-come, first-served basis.
A single campsite may be occupied by no more than six people, in two tents or an RV and one tent.
Abram’s Creek (Mar.–Oct., $12) has 16 sites located along Abram’s Creek and at the trailhead to Abram’s Falls. Accessible only from the extreme western end of the park, this is usually one of the quietest campgrounds.
Located along the Foothills Parkway, which travels from Tellico Lake to Walland, Look Rock (May–Oct., $14) is the highest-elevation campground on the Tennessee side of the park. Cades Cove (year-round, $17–20) has 159 sites and is located at the head of the Cades Cove Loop.
Elkmont (Mar.–Nov., $17–20) is the largest campground in the park. Its 220 sites are situated in a pleasant mountain valley along the Little River.
From the town of Cosby you can easily access two pleasant campgrounds. Cosby (Mar.–Oct., $14) has 165 sites along the Cosby Creek. Big Creek (Mar.–Oct., $12) is a tents-only campground with 12 sites. It is located just over the North Carolina line along Big Creek.
Other North Carolina sites are Deep Creek (Apr.–Oct., $17), located near Bryson City, and Cataloochee (Mar.–Oct., $17), on the eastern end of the park.
Balsam Mountain (May–Oct., $14), which at more than 5,300 feet is the highest-elevation campground in the Smokies, is located on the remote Balsam Mountain Road, and is accessible only from the eastern end of the Blue Ridge Parkway.
© Susanna Henighan Potter from Moon Tennessee, 5th Edition