As the most visited national park by far, it’s not always easy to find peace in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. And Elkmont Campground -- the park’s largest at 220 campsites -- may not seem like the ideal place to try to find that peace, but somehow, we did.
We visited the Smokies in November, after the fall colors had peaked and long after summer travelers had crowded the trails and campgrounds. Sometimes, visiting during the off-season is all it takes to have an ideal national park experience.
Our campsite at Elkmont was huge! We had ample space for our tent and shade tent, which we set up over the provided picnic table. Our site backed up to the Little River, providing idyllic camping backdrop noise. The campground provided basic amenities like running water and flush toilets.
The only downside to our time in the Smokies was the rain. During our five days there, it rained almost every day. We attempted a three-day hike along the AT, but decided to come back after two. We skipped the park’s highest point at Clingman’s Dome, because we never had a clear day.
But we managed to enjoy our time in plenty of other ways. We enjoyed our time in Cades Cove and Abrams Falls with almost no other visitors, and we loved hiking to Ramsay Cascades and Grotto Falls, two fine misty-day activities.
You can read much more about our five days in the park on our blog: Switchback Kids (Great Smoky Mountains)
Our stay at Elkmont was great, a pretty traditional campground in the park, kind of pricey but great location. Make sure to book ahead or show up real early in the summertime!
Polite campers in rvs watched over my tent camp site while I enjoyed a couple of the trails. All in all a wonderful place to stay. Plus you're right by the river.
Great park right smack in the middle of it all. Sites are good sized and had nice tent pads, 2 rivers running though it. A large one and a nice little creek that runs through. The best sites are off the river and some of the ones right next to the creek. Close to some great trails and not too far from Gatlinburg if you're looking for some tourist action. Loved this campground and would definitely return. Perfect base camp for all the smokies have to offer! Happy Trails!
Elkmont is a nice little 200-site park right on the edge of the Smokies. It's seasonal, and if you're looking to go during the summertime or October when the leaves are changing, be sure to make plans way in advance. If you can snag one of the few walk-in sites, you'll get away a bit from other people. What makes this camp spot great is the proximity to area places to explore. Head north to Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge area or journey south a bit to Newfound Gap or on out to Clingman's Dome, one of the most popular places in the park on the state line.
Gear review: I took along my new Stanley Vacuum Insulated Switchback Mug from last month's Cairn subscription box. I was most impressed with the grit guard keeping the drinking surface clean, but was actually pleasantly surprised at the insulation as well. I tested both ice water and coffee on the trip and would certainly recommend it for either. At 12 oz, it was a bit small for me on a hike longer than a few hours - in areas where there's not a refill spot. But with a filter and water access, it would be perfect for an all-day or overnight excursion. Doesn't weigh a lot and fits nicely in the outside pocket of my backpack or clipped on with a carabiner. Oh, and zero leaks!
What a wonderful place to step back into time…to see the sportsman cottages and how mother nature is reclaiming her land.
Beautiful camping area. We camped towards the end of season. Trout fishing is amazing here! walking distance to the abandoned Elkmont Area - lots of wildlife to! Sites are of good size for a National Park, but I am told they fill up super fast during the busy season! Most sites are well shaded and our favorites were riverside! Be Bear Aware !!!!!! Make sure all your food items are put up!
Walk out to the outcropping of land and you'll find the most beautiful site - bring your bird watching gear!
Stay on the walk to peninsula. Sites B1-3 are the BEST. You get to surround yourself with the tranquil sounds of rushing waters 24/7. Very private and no street noise.
One of my favorite National Parks. Cool ghost town nearby worth a trip (not quite like the ghost towns out west). This is a decent campground choice, though it's the most crowded. Nice clean facilities and pretty standard amenities you'd expect from the National Park Service. Tons of shade and green. Most sites are not too private (again, like you'd expect). Make reservations far in advance!! Visit in spring for flowers (mountain laurel and rhododendrons are beyond words) and in fall for leaf peeping, avoiding the crowded summer season. The 10 accessible sites are very nice.