This was our first trip to the Smokey Mountains so decided on Elkmont as it was described as the most visited campgrounds of the Smokey's. It's popularity was a good sign we should try it out too.
As we neared the campgrounds at the base of the Smokey's we followed a small road right up along a stream all the way until we arrived at Elkmont Campgrounds. We knew we'd be near water so that excited us.
The campground had a large section of it closed off. I guess they will open those up a little later when camping season officially kicks off. We were happy with our site which was shared among tents and RV's.
They have a tent only section but that was part of the large closed off section of the campgrounds. You could still access these areas, you just couldn't camp there.
We didn't see any showers but the bathrooms were really clean and well kept. You can buy some basic stuff at the little vending station where a tiny little shop opens for 2 hours a day from 4-6pm. You can't even call it a shop. It's a storage shed with a guy standing in front of it. :P You can buy firewood and maybe couple dozen items ranging from mosquito repellent to tent spikes.
Elkmont seems to be centrally located since it's only a couple of miles from the main Smokey Mountains visitor center. From camp you have relatively easy access to the 3 main resort towns of the Smokey's. Gatlinsburg was the most charming of the 3 towns and also the closet to Elkmont.
This is a large well managed campground. I'd definitely recommend it if you plan to camp at the Smokey Mountains.
We got our new Marmot Tungston 4P tent so I took the wife and kids on a quick weekend trip to J.W. Wells State Park campground in Michigan's Upper Peninsula to test it out. I found J.W. Wells by searching for waterfront camping along Lake Michigan. There are plenty of state and national parks along Lake Michigan but not many where you can pitch your tent right along the waters edge like J.W. Wells. It also happened to be the only site within 4 hours drive of Northbrook, IL (N. Suburb of Chicago) with such close proximity to the waters edge that I could find.
The site itself is tucked right along the Green Bay coastline about 1 hour drive north of Green Bay, Wisconsin. There is a main campground for tent and RV but we chose to stay at 1 of 3 rustic tent sites a little north of the main campground. The campground was well maintained with picnic tables for each site, firepit, and a nice well groomed plot of grass for us to pitch our tent and setup camp. The main campground has showers and a playground right in the middle.
The view from our site was majestic, especially watching the sun rise over the horizon of Lake Michigan. The sunrise was the pinnacle moment of this trip. And that's really the only reason why I gave it 3 stars. The campground itself and the views are incredible, it's just that there isn't much to do around these parts. There are a couple short trails for hiking or ATV's and the Cedar River about a mile north of the site which I assume has some fishing and boating, but that was about it. The only other activity we found was to drive 30 mins north to check the small harbor town of Escanaba. Really not much to see or do there either.
I probably wouldn't recommend this campground for families or persons looking for lots of activities or places to see and visit while camping. It's great for a simple quick getaway with a great view to just sit around camp and relax.