With beautiful waterfalls, scenic landscapes, and incredible biodiversity, the Great Smoky Mountains are heaven on Earth for explorers and adventurers.
Camping here is the perfect way to enjoy a spectacular mini-vacation on a budget.
There is never a dull moment when camping in the Smokys. You can bathe in the clear waters of picturesque rivers and lakes, admire remarkable wildlife, enjoy over 850 miles of hiking trails, and go on scenic drives.
You can even book a zipline canopy tour if you want a more adrenaline-filled adventure. All in all, there are several fun-filled activities for you to try out while camping in the Smokys.
It is a mesmerizing experience that every individual should enjoy at least once in their lifetime.
If you are planning on going on a camping trip to these marvelous mountains, here are a few tips you should keep in mind.
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Tips for Camping in the Great Smoky Mountains
The Great Smoky Mountains are a mountain range primarily situated along the border between the states of North Carolina and Tennessee in the southeastern United States. They form part of the larger Appalachian Mountain chain.
The range is home to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, one of the most visited national parks in the United States, known for its diverse plant and animal life as well as its well-preserved historic buildings and structures.
The park serves as a hub for outdoor activities, such as hiking, camping, and wildlife observation. The mountains are also famed for the smoky mist that often hangs over them, giving them their name. This natural phenomenon is the result of high humidity and organic compounds released by the area’s dense vegetation, creating a smoky, ethereal quality that has intrigued visitors for generations.
Here are our top tips for camping in The Great Smoky Mountains:
1. Rent a place to stay
There are several Smoky Mountain campgrounds that offer different services. You can choose between RV campsites and tent camping areas or opt for cabin rentals if you want a more “luxurious” experience.
Among our favorites is the Greenbrier Campground, surrounded by The Little Pigeon River. This river is home to a spectacular swimming hole and offers the best trout fishing experience in the Smokys.
You will also have easy access to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and visiting it is almost mandatory for every camper. To sum it up, this campground will give you an unforgettable camping experience that can’t be compared to any other.
2. Explore the Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Camping in the Smokys and not exploring the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is almost a crime! You cannot fully appreciate the beauty of these phenomenal mountains without taking a trip to this park.
The park is home to thousands of species of wildlife. You can see the famous black bears, tailed deer, bald eagles, glowing millipedes, and so much more here.
You can also explore several amazing places in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, including remnants of historical Appalachian sites. Among our favorites are The Walker Sisters’ Cabin from the 1800s, the churches and cabins in Cades Cove, the Cataloochee Valley surrounded by rugged mountains, the 6,643-foot tall Clingman Dome, and the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail.
The park also has many hiking trails that lead to jaw-dropping waterfalls and lush forests. And if this isn’t enough to convince you, maybe the free entrance will!
You do not need to purchase an entrance ticket to visit the park.
3. Gather your gear
Before hitting the trail, ensure you have everything you need, including your gear. Here are a few items you should pack to avoid any trouble on your trip, especially if you do not book a campground that provides all the facilities:
- A sleeping bag
- Extra Blankets
- Pocket Knife
4. Stock up on toiletries
Hygiene items and prescriptions are extremely important to bring to your camping trip. We also recommend going one step further and packing a first-aid kit for emergencies. You never know when you might scrape a knee or touch some poisonous ivy.
You do not want to forget your sunscreen and insect repellants. You will do most of your exploring in the daytime, which makes sunscreen mandatory, especially in the summer.
Fortunately, there are several stores in the neighboring towns, including a Walmart in Sevierville, so you can purchase stuff you forget to bring along.
5. Don’t forget the campsite extras
Pack some campsite extras apart from the essentials like tents and sleeping bags. This will enhance your camping experience and make it more enjoyable.
For example, consider bringing a star chart and identifying constellations during the night when the sky is full of bright, shining stars.
Moreover, reading books, playing board games, and musical instruments will make group gatherings more entertaining.
6. Consider the weather conditions
The camping experience varies based on the weather. If you prefer warmer weather, you should plan your trip from June to August. The days are long, and you will have more time to explore in the light. However, this is the busiest time of the year, and most places will be crowded.
Additionally, camping reservations are mandatory as you might not get a spot if you do not book in advance.
The Smokys are also famous for their brilliant foliage in the fall. Thus, book your trip in September or October if you want to be blown away by spectacular views and hues of orange, brown, and red.
Winter camping in the Smokys is also a spectacular experience. It does get extremely chilly, with temperatures dipping below freezing point. But it does not snow heavily, and a light layer of snow only covers the lower elevations.
There is a lot more snow at higher elevations. You can enjoy cross-country skiing and snowshoeing here. You can also pack a small heater to make your trip a little warmer and more comfortable.
7. Wildlife safety
The Smokys are home to several dangerous wild animals. Thus, you should prepare yourself in advance.
The most common animal found in the Smokys is the black bear. Approximately 1500 of them reside here. They are small and shy. Nonetheless, they are still wild animals, and you must maintain distance from them. Do not pet them or feed them.
You will most likely encounter a few of them during your trip so read up on how to deal with a black bear to avoid staying out of trouble.
Another animal you must look out for is the male elk, especially during the fall season. It is breeding season for them during this time, and they become territorial and aggressive. Maintain a distance from them for your safety.
8. Start early
The earlier you begin your exploring trip, the longer you have to enjoy every glorious moment. You can also avoid big crowds and spend quality time with your friends and family in solitude.
Plan your day the night before to have a successful camping trip. This way, you can slow down and take in every moment instead of rushing through places.
Catch the sunsets, breathe in the smell of different flowers, dip your toes in cold lakes and take hundreds of pictures.
Camping in the smokys
Camping in the Smokys is an experience like no other. You will have a great time and make some of the best memories of your life here.
Just remember to prepare in advance, bring your essentials, and follow our tips to enjoy a relaxing vacation in this breathtaking place.
Have you been camping in the Great Smoky Mountains? Let us know in the comments below.