Located eight miles from Gatlinburg, Tennessee, Elkmont Campground is the largest and busiest campground in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. At an elevation of 2,150 feet, the area enjoys a moderate climate, characterized by mild winters and hot, humid summers.
The Little River runs through the campground offering visitors the option to camp waterfront. Campers can enjoy high-quality backcountry fishing in the cool waters of the Little River and countless other streams and rivers that snake through the mountains.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a hiker's paradise, with over 800 miles of maintained trails ranging from short, leg-stretchers to strenuous treks, with a number of those trails easily accessible from Elkmont Campground. The nearby and popular Laurel Falls Trail leads to a spectacular 80-ft. waterfall.
Hiking and fishing are not the only reasons for visiting the Smokies: Picnicking, wildlife viewing and auto touring are popular activities.
With around 1,500 bears living in the park, it's not uncommon for visitors to spot one. From the big animals like bears, deer, and elk, down to microscopic organisms, the Smokies are the most biologically-diverse area in the world's temperate zone. The park is a sanctuary for a magnificent array of animal and plant life, all of which is protected for future generations to enjoy.
The park also holds one of the best collections of log buildings in the eastern United States. Over 90 historic structures, including houses, barns, outbuildings, churches, schools and grist mills have been preserved or rehabilitated in the park.
Elkmont Campground has 200 tent / RV campsites with paved driveways, gravel tent pads, fire rings, and picnic tables. Although most sites will accommodate tents or RVs, extreme slope or length of driveway make certain sites more suitable for tents than RVs. Please check the descriptions and measurements of individual sites.
In addition to these tent / RV sites, Elkmont has 20 walk-in sites for tents. Campers on these beautiful wooded sites will have a short walk from their parking area to their tent pad.
Nine of Elkmont's campsites are wheelchair accessible ADA sites. These sites have wide concrete driveways, raised fire rings, and wheelchair accessible picnic tables. All of these sites are located near accessible restrooms. Three of the sites provide 5 amp electrical service for medical equipment.
Restrooms at Elkmont Campground have flush toilets, cold running water, and utility sinks. Potable water is available at spigots near each restroom; use of hoses is not allowed. Elkmont Campground does not have electric, water, or sewer hook-ups. RV campers are encouraged to use the dump station across from Sugarlands Visitor Center, as there is no dump station in the campground.
Elkmont is strictly an overnight campground; there are no day-use facilities. The nearest picnic area is Metcalf Bottoms Picnic Area, west of Elkmont on Little River Road.
Due to its central location and variety of amenities, Elkmont Campground tends to be heavily used during the summer vacation months and in October. Sites along Little River are in particularly high demand. Even when Elkmont is full, campsites are often available at Cosby Campground, located at the northeast corner of Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Generations of campers have returned to Elkmont year after year, drawn by the sounds of the river, the tranquility of the forest, and the variety of recreational activities in the Elkmont area. Little River and Jakes Creek run through the campground, offering easy access for fishing or cool summertime splashing. Trailheads for Little River Trail, Jakes Creek Trail, and Elkmont Nature Trail are located adjacent to the campground. Historic remnants of Little River Lumber Company's logging camp and old buildings from the Elkmont resort community offer campers a glimpse of life at Elkmont nearly a century ago.
Gatlinburg, one of the Smokies' most famous tourist towns, is located about nine miles from Elkmont and offers organized rafting trips, museums, restaurants, galleries, an aquarium, skiing and more.
ADA Access: N
On a visit to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, you quickly learn that you’ll enjoy your visit a lot more if you are located close to what you want to see and do. This means you may find it worth your while to move from one campground to another during your stay, as I did. My final night in the park found me setting up camp at Elkmont Campground, < 5 miles from the Sugarlands entrance, so I would have a shorter drive to view sunset and sunrise from overlooks along the beautiful Newfound Gap Rd. This is also the viewing area for the synchronous fireflies in late May/early June (dates vary; parking passes by lottery in April) if you don’t have a campsite reservation).
Elkmont is open early March – October and reservations are required. If you arrive without a reservation, there is a phone line there that you can call to make them, or you can return to town where you have cell service and make reservations online. This early in the season (mid-April) the campground wasn’t full, some of the loops were closed. I was in site A14, beside a branch of the Little River with a large tent pad, fire ring, picnic table, and paved, slightly sloped, parking pad. It was a compact site; the location of the picnic table between the tent and fire ring made it a challenge to set up a screen house over the picnic table and maintain sufficient distance from the fire. I was pleased with my site and the privacy, though I liked the looks of A13 even better. It was somewhat larger and more secluded. Many of the sites, particularly those on the western side of A - F loops, are along the river. Most of the sites are shaded. A few of the B-loop sites are walk-in. It’s bear country, so your food and toiletries need to be locked in a vehicle or hard-side camping unit; there are some food storage lockers provided for the walk-in sites. There’s a small camp store with limited supplies and hours (open late afternoon); Cades Cove has a much larger one, though it tends more toward souvenirs.
There’s cold running water, flush toilets, and a dishwashing station available, but no showers or hookups (a couple of accessible sites do have electricity for medical equipment). Bathrooms are basic, no frills, but clean; The one in the A loop didn’t even have an outlet or hand dryer. If you ask at the visitor’s center, they’ll provide you with a list of area campgrounds that allow you to take a shower for $3-7. The nearest dump station is a seasonal one at the Sugarlands Visitor Center (doesn’t open until late May); the one at Cades Cove is open year round. Buy firewood in the park or, better yet, pick up deadwood around the park.
One of the more intriguing areas to explore at Elkmont is the Daisy Town ghost town. Once you’ve set up camp, walk or drive down the road toward the Little River and Jakes Creek trails (leaves the camp road to the left before the ranger station on your way into the campground). Follow the signs for additional parking and you’ll find yourself at the end of a road lined with assorted cottages and cabins that used to be vacation homes. Some are open for exploration, others are cordoned off, and some are undergoing renovation. Another nearby, popular highlight is the hike to Laurel Falls.
As a Ranger for The Dyrt, I sometimes I get to test and evaluate products. This is a review of a Wenzel Sun Valley 12’ x 12’ Screen House As a camper with a teardrop, I’m always looking to maximize my outdoor living space in subpar conditions, so I was excited to try this out at Elkmont.
I set this up alone the first time in 14 minutes without reading the instructions. The instructions are attached to the inside of the bag and recommend 2 people for set-up, but if you’ve pitched a dome tent in the past, you’ll find this inituitive. Continuous sleeves for 4 of the fiberglass poles and the “Fast Feet” made set- up easy. I did wish the sleeves for the cross-poles were continuous as well, but the gap allows for a hook to hold the ceiling up and it didn’t take much extra effort to slide the poles in. The hardest part was getting the 4th end of the cross poles for the roof into place. I couldn’t bend them enough to slide it in while on the ground, so waited until everything else was up…should have figured it out while it was at ground level rather than over my head! This part would definitely be easier if there were two people pitching it.
The zippers on the two doors close tightly and easily without extreme tension, though it was definitely easier to open and close with 2 hands rather than one. There was no gap at the junction of the 3 zippers. Once you are inside, you have a crystal clear view of the outside! It’s quite tall, I couldn’t touch the ceiling in the middle with a raised hand. It doesn’t have a floor, just a wide border around the perimeter, so you can place it over a picnic table. The picnic table (about 6’) fit inside it easily with plenty of room to walk around and even add a chair in a corner. I had to be careful about making sure the bottom of the walls lay flat on the ground, otherwise there were gaps.
It comes with 10 thin metal stakes for the feet and 4 plastic ones for the guy lines. A word of advice: USE THEM. The first time I set this up, this experienced camper made a rookie mistake. The weather was nice, but it was getting dark, and I wanted to move it over the picnic table in the morning…so I didn’t stake it down. That night a wind storm blew through and blew it away! Found it at 4am in the next campsite, astonished to discover it was still intact! No broken poles, just a slight abrasion on one sleeve and a tiny tear in one part of the screen that will be easily repaired. A couple of the poles slid out of the Fast Feet during its overnight adventure, allowing the screen house to collapse and preventing damage to the poles themselves (I’ve seen MANY other screen houses/canopies with bent and broken poles from wind). Truly impressed.
Pitched it again the next afternoon with the wind still blowing and as you can see in my video, the screen house was like a kite until I staked it down. Once staked, it stood up well to the wind, though it did cause the bottom edge of the screen house to lift a bit. If bugs are out in that weather (there were wind advisories), they probably deserve a chance for some shelter, too.
Taking it down, it easily fit back in the storage bag, with the zipper extending down one end to open the bag a bit more. Oh, and it weighs so much less than many of the canopies do, coming in around 20# and not requiring a wheeled case to lug it around. If you’re looking for a screen house, this one has a lot going for it!
Black fly season is coming and with the Wenzel Sun Valley Screen House packed, I’m ready! MY fuller video review is here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ealCyAi02HA
Campsites can be a bit close together, but it's very nice and wooded. We we're lucky enough to get a site next to a small creek. Other sites are near a bigger stream. There are no showers and no soap or paper towels or hand dryers in the bathrooms. Not necessarily a complaint, but a warning. Staff was nice and the small store had camp essentials like firewood.
This park had no entrance fee and had great Ranger run programs and hikes. We hiked to Laurel Falls and it was beautiful, but the real stunner was Clingman's Dome. VERY worth the drive from the campsite (GPS tells you 8 miles, but it's more than an hour drive)
We spent a week in this campground and loved everything. The restrooms were clean. There are no showers or electricity but it is a great campground. We plan to go back next summer!
Had a great time here, the camp host was delightful!
This campsite is in Great Smoky Mountains National Park and is one of the biggest and busiest.
Yay: this is a fairly typical big national park campground in many ways. There is a camp store with firewood (you are required to buy it from an authorized location!). Nice roomy campsites with a lot of plant cover letting you feel like you have a private area. You can hike some trail from right on site. Rangers have almost nightly programming for all ages.
Nay: given the traffic it is well maintained but can still be a little behind in restroom cleanliness. We’ve stayed here many times and how clean the campsite and bathrooms/facilities are can vary a lot. The staff are all excellent though and are happy to hop to it and solve any issues you may have with the facilities. Also bring tons of bug spray! No showers.
Surprise: cool little ghost town nearby for neat photos. Many sites are along an adorable creek (B-teens for example).
Let's face it, it gets HOT in the Blue Ridge Mountains in the summer time and having a spot to cool off at the end of the day is an added bonus when camping. This campground is within the national park and offers well shaded spots for both RVs and tent campers. It's a relatively large campground with multiple loops that helps to spread out visitors so that you don't fell like you're on top of one another.
There are no hook ups for electric and sewer here, nor are their showers. However, there are flush toilets, cold running water and large sinks for you to do your dishes or hand wash a few clothing items if need be. The town of Gatlinburg is also a short drive away from this particular campground. There are water spigots with potable water through the campground.
This is one of the more popular sites within the park and fills quickly (especially the AMAZING sites right along the water). So if you're interested in spending a few nights here, be sure to make your reservations early. There is also a small general store located within the campground.
A perfect way to camp in the Great Smoky Mountains - down in a holler, right by a babbling stream. The sites are paved so you won't camp on rocks or sticks, and there's a small shop there with basic supplies (wood, snacks, etc.) for sale. Love this site, will return!
this is a great campground. Quiet, close to all the major sites in GSMNP! We went 4 days over 4th of July- it rained a lot and was always extremely humid. Bathroom were clean, but oddly, always wet? No showers, or electricity. Great camp store on site for essentials (firewood, ice, personal items). Dish washing sink at every bathroom and bear storeage unit at some campsites if you don't want to store in your car.
Great park operated car camping site with a few primitive sites. Always clean and the only spot to catch synchronized fireflies.
The campground has a wonderful area and the history of the place is amazing.