Look no further for some of the best camping in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, plus tips to enjoy your stay from The Dyrt Ranger team the Switchback Kids.

Most Popular Campgrounds in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

World-renowned for the beauty of its ancient mountains and it’s well-preserved remnants of Southern Appalachian culture, Great Smoky Mountains National Park is an American icon. Sprawling across 521,000 acres in both North Carolina and Tennesse, this moody and magical park is one of the world’s most diverse areas. With more than 10 million visitors each year, the highest of any national park in the US, it can get a little crowded. And while these three campsites are the most-frequented, each offers a Great Smokies experience that will be yours and yours alone.

1. Cades Cove Campground, TN

Photo from The Dyrt user Sarah C.

Offering some of the best wildlife viewing in the park, Cades Cove is a popular destination in the Great Smokies. Cades Cove Campground seamlessly blends the feel of primitive camping with the modern convenience of flush toilets and drinking water. There is also a camp store that provides visitors with basic necessities as well as bike rentals. With waterfall hikes and a stream right next to the campground, this spot is ideal for cooling off and exploring the national park.

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2. Elkmont Campground, TN

Photo from The Dyrt user Kelly N.

With 200 tent and RV campsites, Elkmont Campground is the largest and busiest campground in the national park. And despite the huge amount of campers that flock to Elkmont each year, the campground is very clean and well-managed. There are no showers but there are clean bathrooms with cold running water and a great camp store on site offering all the essentials.

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3. Smokefront Campground, NC

Photo from The Dyrt user Anton T.

Not nearly as popular as Cades Cove or Elkmont, Smokefront Campground offers the chance to beat the crowds and still be close to many of the attractions in the area. The added convenience of flush toilets, drinking water, and sinks offers some modern comfort. If you are planning to hike Mingo Falls, visit the Mountain Farm Museum and the Cherokee Museum in Cherokee, then this is the camp for you.

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Explore the Great Smoky Mountains

Easily the most popular national park in the US, Great Smoky Mountains National Park boasts a wealth of things to see and experience. With over 800 miles of maintained trails plus countless streams and rivers for high-quality backcountry fishing, the Smokies is an outdoor lovers paradise. The park is also a sanctuary for a magnificent array of animal and wildlife, including the 1,500 bears that call the park home.

The Dyrt’s Ranger duo the Switchback Kids, who spent a year visiting all 59 National Parks, have put together this incredible video to document their firsthand experience in the Great Smoky Mountains with the hopes of improving the visit of others.

Switchback Kids Ranger Tip: On a rainy day, you can still get out of Gatlinburg and into the park. Aim for lower-elevation sights like waterfalls or the Cade’s Cove historic area, dress appropriately, and likely, you’ll be almost all alone!

And, in case you still (somehow) need convincing to fit this park in your summer itinerary, we present Great Smoky Mountains National Park:

Win gear for camping the Great Smoky Mountains

When you review campsites across the US on The Dyrt, you get the chance to win outdoor gear. In the Great Smokies, you have the chance to win a $100 gift card from Grand Trunk, a $100 gift card from Gregory Packs, and an MH2 Headlamp from Ledlenser. Check out the contest leaderboard, review your camping experience, earn points for your review, and you could win prizes!

Review South Atlantic campgrounds and you could win $100 from Gregory Packs!

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Kevin Long

Kevin Long

Kevin Long is The Dyrt's co-founder. After many stressful experiences trying to find a campsite online, he and his wife Sarah set out to solve this problem. And so The Dyrt was born, and so it grows, and so it goes. He's excited to make the camping experience even better!