This week my fellow outdoor enthusiasts and I are highlighting our favorite campgrounds in North America. While I have several favorites across the country, I wanted to bring the love down south into Camp Granola’s main stomping grounds.
To highlight our home state, I’ve got Cloudland Canyon for you. But you know I can’t help but share some Great Smoky Mountains love as well…
So many choices…
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is home to ten campgrounds within its 800+ square miles and they’re fairly uniform in their amenities in my experience. The campgrounds are equipped with toilets and sinks but no showers, electric hookups (except for ADA sites), or campsite water spigots. Water is available at the dishwashing sinks outside of the rest stations so it’s typically only a short haul to take water to your site. The sites have raised, gravel-bedded tent pads along with picnic tables and fire pits/grills.
The groovy things about the Smokies is that the mountains are rife with streams and many of the campgrounds boast creekside campsites as a result. You really can’t go wrong with any of the campground offerings in the park, creekside or not, but we’re partial to Elkmont due to it’s location right smack in the middle of the north side of the park, between Gatlinburg and Townsend. It’s a great jumping off point to the trails at Elkmont, to the Cades Cove and Tremont areas, and to Sugarlands and Hwy 441 that runs back south towards Clingman’s Dome.
And while Elkmont is the largest of the campgrounds in terms of number of campsites, the layout is such that it doesn’t feel crowded unlike other campgrounds in the park… especially compared to the chaos of the very popular Cades Cove campground or the tightly packed walk-in sites at Deep Creek. The campground also plays host to a variety of park programs throughout the year and you can stock up on basic supplies at the concessions stand without having to go into town.
If you do find you need to go into town, you’ll see that Gatlinburg is more accessible from Elkmont but be aware that it’s extremely crowded and touristy. If that’s not the experience you want out of your visit, the town of Townsend lies to the west and is a much more low-key option for the likes of stocking up on supplies and doing laundry. It is a little further away than Gatlinburg but the drive is fantastic as the road winds along the banks of the Little River.
An important reminder…
As of last summer, the Emerald Ash Borer has been officially confirmed to have been sighted in the park. This presents a serious threat to the park’s ash tree population and there is a ban on firewood brought from quarantined areas. Firewood is readily available at the Elkmont concession booth so please do not bring your own from outlying areas. For more information, please visit Don’t Move Firewood.
An Elkmont visual…
To get a better sense of Elkmont, here are a few more images. Also click on over to my Great Smoky Mountains Flickr set for more on the park.
Be sure to check out the favorites of these great outdoor bloggers as well:
- The Best Provincial Park Campgrounds in Southern Alberta from Rockies Family Adventures
- Sandflats Recreational Area and Campground [Moab, UT] from The Kid Project
- Camping at The City of Rocks from Climb Run Lift Mom
- Top 5 Backcountry Campgrounds in Banff National Park from The Campsite
- Yellowstone Campground Review from Traveling Mel
- North America’s Best Campgrounds: Cloudland Canyon from yours truly over at GA Family Camping
- My Top 5 Favorite Campgrounds in the Moab Area from Adventure Tykes
- North America’s Best Campgrounds: Dolly Copp Campground in Gorham, NH from Adventurous Moms
- Best Family Campgrounds of Washington from Odyseey Outdoors
- San Elijo State Beach Camping for Urban Nature Fun from Walk Simply
- Camping in Ontario from Active Kids Club
- Our favorite campgrounds in the Western U.S. from Outside Mom
- Family Camp: Alaskans Share Their Favorite Campgrounds from AK on the Go
- Best Campgrounds in North America: Western Colorado Edition from The Brave Ski Mom
- West Coast Campground Review – Sweet Summer Spots to Relax & Recharge! from Mommy Hiker
- The best of West Coast Camping from Family Outdoor Adventures
- Classic Campsites: Murphy Hogback Campground, Canyonlands National Park from Adventure Parents