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I was a little underwhelmed compared to what I was expecting from camping at a national park. The positives are the cheap rates and there are bathroom and shower facilities. If you want old fashion tent camping the park does have some backcountry campsites.
The cons are the lack of actual campsites. They are more like parking spaces. Probably to appeal to the people who use campers. The noise of the highway was constant and annoying.
Overall I enjoyed my time staying here. Wish I could have done more backcountry camping but the weather didn't permit it.
Campsites are perfectly spread apart. They do a fantastic job on keeping everything neat and orderly. Plenty of places to hike and if you want to have a picnic there is a picnic area right next to the creek where the kids can play. The loop around Cades cove just takes you back in time to much simpler time. You can rent bikes if want to take it slow.
Have been camping here for years even before current owners. Many different size sites and some are just too small for even a small camper. Price has gotten too high.
I’m a reluctant camper and hiker doing this to spend time with my family so factor that in to my review. I had a permit, but no one asked to see it. Perhaps anyone who might had left for the day. My pack weighed at least 30lbs. and I’m new to this, so it took me forever to get up here. It was dark by the time we arrived and boy, was I disappointed to learn this shelter is situated PAST the lodge. My exhaustion made the merriment I glimpsed behind its fire-warmed window panes seem cruel, but I’m sure it wasn’t as personal as it seemed in the moment. There were two other tents set up outside the shelter when we arrived so I set up my camp, silently, by the light of my otherwise useless iphone. I would’ve slept inside the shelter, even though the entrance was covered by a plastic tarp that read, “keep out” (because of COVID, maybe?), but my son told me there would be mice. Then, he did something with our food that involved some system of ropes and pulleys, but I didn’t care if I were eaten by a bear. At least then I wouldn’t have had to hike down. Or discover what a “compost toilet” is.
It's a pretty good campground overall, stayed there 2 or 3 times with my son's Cub Scout/Boy Scout pack. Generally it's a pretty quiet campground that doesn't see quite as much camping as you might expect from a state park. It's got a tiny gift store so it would be recommended that you either bring your own food and drinks or you can take a ride to either Williamsburg or LaFollette to stock up on items for your stay.
The lost cove campground can be found deep in the wilderness of the Cherokee National Forest outside of Benton, TN. The campground is operated and maintained by the USFS. Once leaving the pavement of the main road and traversing a well maintained gravel road for 7 miles you will reach the Lost Cove Campground. A portion of campground adjoins a small creek. The creek can be used for shallow water wading or fishing. During our visit in Mid January there were no other visitors at the campground. The campground offers concrete picnic tables, lantern post, a pit toilet and bear safe trash receptacles. There is no potable water available from a spicket and no Verizon cell reception.
I had the opportunity to tour this facility before it was open to the public. This is going to be a phenomenal RV Resort. Big-rig friendly, a HUGE pool with a hot tub, fishing, kayaking, and hiking trails. Inside the lodge, there will be meeting spaces, a retail store, and an on-site concierge. If you have been to Catherine's Landing, this resort is going to be even more magnificent (If that is even possible)!
Note that there are multiple campsites on this lake, some are drive up, some you have to walk to. There is also a campground called "Lake Santeetlah" that is not free. The site by the boat launch was quiet, free, and had beautiful views of the lake. I arrived right before sunset on a week day and found it unoccupied. There was a picnic table, and established flat area to set up a tent. No bathrooms or running water available.
Warning: the road to get to Lake Santeetlah has endless sharp turns & drop-offs, would not recommend driving this in the dark.
All around excellent experience from the check in with the Park Ranger, choice of lake view spots, nice bath house, and quiet location. Even with the short trip off the Interstate the side was quiet and scenic.
There are a number of sites either right on or with lake views. The bath house was clean and warm and very accessible to most RV stalls. The water at the stall was off, as expected, as we were there in Late December.
I plan on stay at this site again, so should you.