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
This campground is absolutely amazing. Everything was well kept and clean, sights far enough apart, plenty of shade, plenty of restrooms and just flat out beautiful. We went up and stayed here to see the synchronized lightning bugs and it did not disappoint. I would 100% recommend staying here even if it wasn’t the time of year to see the lighting bugs. Plenty of trails to hike, rivers to fish and things to see. There is an amazing abandoned summer retreat community just outside the campground that is a must see. I will say you WILL NOT HAVE ANY CELL SERVICE! But for me that is far from a negative. Just prepare accordingly.
First of all, the drive to Elkmont is just beautiful! Located in the heart of the Great Smoky Mountains, the scenery is second to none! If you have never heard of Synchronized Fireflies, look it up! This is a natural phenomenon that can only be seen in one place in the world, with peak times around the beginning of June, and that’s Elkmont! You don’t actually need to win a lottery spot to see this, you just have to stay at the campground and walk up to the little river trail around 9pm! We were in M002, and it was a short walk. The campground is scenic with a river running through, that you can actually tube in. Just about all sites are wooded, so plenty of space and privacy. Restrooms were clean, however there are no showers! Also, there’s no electricity at any of the sites, so if you need power, better take a generator. The campground is huge too. You can only use firewood that has the state or government seal, and there is a store there to purchase if u need. I absolutely love this campground! So many great hiking trails, and the sounds from the river and nature are so soothing. This place is a “must visit” campground!!!
Absolutely loved this campground. The bathrooms were great, despite not having showers. But the location and the site made up for it. We had a site by the river, and it was the most spacious, secluded, and beautiful campsite I’ve ever stayed at. Would highly recommend this ground for your Smoky Mountain stay, especially if you can score a river lot. The proximity to trails and the synchronized firefly event is definitely worth it!
Elkmont is a huge campground in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
They have plenty of sites for tents and RVs. There is a camp store, showers, and restrooms. They provide potable water access. Some sites do have electric hookups for medical needs, which are also handicap accessible. Most site are primitive sites with no water or electric hookup available. Some loops do allow the use of generators during certain hours. Pets are allowed in the campground, but not on the trails.
This campground has great access to hiking and fishing, as well as wildlife viewing.
We spent our weekend trip hiking and enjoying the butterflies that fill the park in September.
Good: The river was amazing. Most spots are relatively spaced out. Very flat tent areas in every single site.
Just so you know: No showers. No cell service in the campgrounds, closest is towards Sugarland HQ about 10-15 minutes east. Camp store is only open 4-7pm. Can’t bring your own firewood.
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
This is my 2nd favorite campground ever! The sites are huge, the river running through is perfect for inter tubbing, good swimming areas, tons of hiking, & beautiful scenery. PEACEFUL!! My parents started bringing me camping here when I was 9 we’d come every year for a week. I’m 30 & married now so I drag my husband camping here ha I still tube on the river & hiking is the best. My favorite time to come is summer. I’ve camped there twice during the synchronized firefly show (definitely look it up if you haven’t heard of it). The campground closes from Nov-March but you can still go in & hike. March is a gorgeous time to go & there aren’t a lot of people camping around that time. It’s primitive so there aren’t any hook ups at all. There aren’t showers but they have many nice bathhouses set up that have toilets & sinks. Highly recommend!!
I love elkmont! It’s located only a short drive from Gatlinburg and several major hiking trails including Chimney Top. It’s also beautiful, surrounded by trees, you can hear waterfalls, plenty of space from other campers, etc. Definitely makes you feel like you’re more remote than some other campsites I’ve been to.
GSMNP is so huge, it is difficult to decide where in the park to stay. Elkmont is sort of centrally located and has trails from the campground (although we drove to other trailheads). This busy campground is huge with loops A-N. We stayed in Loop A and although our site did not back up to the creek, we could easily hear it. Good spacing between sites. Clean bathrooms with cold running water and a utility sink. No internet, showers or hookups but for $12.50/night (with 50% senior discount), you can’t beat the price! Firewood is available for purchase in the park and it was the best wood we’ve ever bought. Our two bundles had our fire going for well over four hours. Although the campground is huge and full, it was very quiet.
We loved our campsite and this campground. Our site was good size and bathroom facilities were nice and clean with running water and flush toilets. I wish the national parks would have shower facilities at more of their campgrounds. This was the only downside. The campground was quiet and the Little River was behind our campsite. We had a nice fire ring and picnic table with a designated tent pad. There was a campground store and ranger station very close by.
There were great hiking trails nearby and we enjoyed biking the Cade's Cove Loop.