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Kingsport/Bristol has easy access from Interstate 81 and the campground is easily navigated with a large 5th wheel.
They have cabins, a nice pool, a blob, lots of outdoor activities, playground area, horse shoes, even with it being a smaller KOA Campground there is a lot to do. The park is also near Warriors Path State Park, which is fun to go hike and see.
They have several large pull through sites, as well as back in smaller sites. They have 50amp service and full hookup sites.
Cellular reception is decent for TMobile and AT&T.
This park is frequented by travelers and NASCAR fans.
I’d never used a KOA before but was tremendously impressed with the serene beauty of this place situated well away from traffic in a bucolic setting. Mindful of my budget I learned to ask for a tent site with no electricity, no water, just toilets and showers. The young man who helped me observed I was alone and put me in a small cabin for no additional charge. Just outside the cabin was a bonfire of old wood from construction debris. I was super stoked to get this deal. I spent lots of time stoking that fire and sitting outdoors watching the evening arrive. If you’re anywhere near the area do stop in and enjoy a quiet and lovely night. You can even pet the horses nearby.
Arrived around 5 pm on a Monday to ample options for sites. We wanted a flat, electric-only spot for our truck camper and near (but not too near) a bathhouse. Easy to find this: sites are well-laid out and there are multiple bathhouses, all very well-maintained (crisp paint jobs) and very clean. Sites on the lower perimeter will get road noise but interior sites were very quiet. Hosts were friendly and welcoming. Campground connects to a couple trails, 5 min drive to main park office and “attractions.”
So my title is a little odd…I’ll explain. Normally thru-hikers get first dibs on shelters…also they stink really bad and shelters are tight. However, in the Smokies you can get a permit backcountry permit and camp outside (very clear on the reservation website) the shelter. They sell 10 permits to do this. Problem is, there isn’t a space for even a two person tent outside this shelter. I had to go 500 feet back up the hill to the horse hitching post to find a good spot. There are a few locations that a one person tent could fit, but certainly not ten.
It’s a tough hike in to this shelter as it sits just below Mt Guyot, one of the highest peaks east of the Mississippi. The privy was clean and the water source was running well. Always fun to hang out with the thru-hikers and hear their stories for a while. No views despite the elevation.
This is the second time I have camped at this place, and it was even better the second time around. I say this because I explored more of what this area has to offer. The main reason people come to this area is to see the elk. Thousands upon thousands of people come here for that reason. However, there are many trails in this area as well with a lot of old structures—barns, houses built during the 1800s, an old church, an old schoolhouse, etc. I specifically wanted to hike the Boogerman Trail, which I had heard about for years. The trailhead is about a hundred yards from the campground, but more about that later. This campground has a washhouse with toilet, sinks, and a dish wash station, but it does not have showers. The campsites are level and well-shaded. There are no water or sewer hookups, but the sites are relatively private. You can still see the other campers easily, but the sites are not on top of each other. Reservations are REQUIRED since the drive to the campground is a ten mile curvy road with about four miles of it being gravel.(By the way, it was revealed last week that the road to Cataloochee Valley, including the campground, would be closed for repairs until sometime in May.) The Boogerman Trail is often wet, especially after rain, and it is a moderate climb. However, you walk by at least one tree that is HUGE. You will pass by a stone wall and an old homestead. You will also have to cross Caldwell Fork(creek) several times before getting back to the trailhead. Rough Fork Trail, which is at the end of the dirt road through the valley, leads you to the Woody house. It is a pleasant one mile walk. Big Fork Ridge Trail is another trail, with the trailhead being just before you get to the end of the dirt road. It is a much longer and steeper trail. I love this campground, not just because it is a pleasant camping experience, but because there is so much to explore.
This is a very quiet campground. It has roomy sites and all amenities. The number of sites with sewer is limited, so book early to ensure availability. The campground is a single loop and the full hookups are on a hill. Parking area on the Sites are level, but they tend to slope otherwise. We enjoyed our stay here and will return as it is local and good for quick trips.