Top 15 Best Tent Camping in the Smoky Mountains, TN

Published September 26th, 2022 by Allen Campbell

best tent camping in the Smoky Mountains, TN1

Want to go camping in the Smoky Mountains but still not decided on the perfect spot? If you want peace, fresh air, and beautiful scenery, then you should continue reading. In my opinion, camping is one of the best ways to truly appreciate all that the Smokies have to offer.

But, it is true that with so many campgrounds to choose from, it can be tricky to decide which one would be the best fit for you. Whether you’re looking for an easy-access spot near the town or a more remote location deep in the woods, I’ve got you covered with this list of the best tent camping in the Smoky Mountains.

Best Tent Camping in the Smoky Mountains, TN: Summary

1. Cosby Campground

Cosby Campground

If you want to camp the traditional way with a tent and all the necessary gear, then Cosby Campground is the place for you. Although it doesn’t have any fancy amenities, it provides all of the basics that you need for a comfortable camping experience. 

You can simply put up your tent and enjoy a calm and restful holiday. This is the place to come if you just want some quiet and don’t want any frills or extra features. This is because Cosby Campground is known to be one of the most peaceful places to camp when compared to all of the others. 

I still remember all the fun times I had here with my friends, roasting marshmallows by the fire and telling stories under the sky. You can have access to the nearby beauty of the river and go on rafting trips, or you can explore the nearby aquarium. For those who love skiing, Cosby Campground is also a great place to visit in winter.

2. Elkmont Campground

Elkmont Campground

Elkmont Campground is very busiest site due to its great location near the river. The best time to visit is in the early morning or evening when the crowds have thinned out a bit. 

This beautiful campground is located on the banks of the River, offering great opportunities for fishing, swimming, and hiking. The elevations of 2150 feet provide breathtaking vistas of the surrounding mountains. You may encounter elk and black bears in this area, so stay at a safe distance and don’t offer them food. 

If you’re looking for a waterfall hike, Laurel Falls is an easy round trip from the campground. Moreover, the Elkmont campground can easily accommodate groups of 15-30 guests per site.

3. Big Creek Horse Camp

Big Creek Horse Camp

If you are both a nature and a horse lover, Big Creek Horse Camp is the place for you! It is located in some of the most beautiful scenery around, and of course, has accommodations for your horses. 

The huge mountains covering the area make for an amazing view, and the trail down to Mouse Creek Falls is perfect for a peaceful hike or ride. The waterfalls themselves are an impressive 35 feet high and offer a refreshing swimming spot on hot days. 

Also, if you ever dreamed of hiking the Appalachian Trail, it’s only a couple of miles away from Big Creek Horse Camp.

4. Balsam Mountain Campground

Balsam Mountain Campground

Balsam Mountain Campground has 30 interesting sites to select from. If you are looking for a place to camp in the Great Smoky Mountains and want some variety, this is the place for you. Remember – Restrooms are available but there are no lights, so bring your head torch. 

You have access to running water and flushable toilets. Most probably, you can also see some elk. The campground is located on a high plateau at 5,310 feet above sea level. So, the temperatures at night and during the day are cool. 

Nearby, there is a hiking trail called Flat Creek where you can hike and see the beautiful views of the mountains. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can hike 14 miles to the Hemphill Bald and Rough Fork trails. Also, you can fish for trout in the nearby waters. 

So, if you are looking for an adventurous trip along with some fishing, this is the place for you.

5. Cades Cove Campground

Cades Cove Campground

Cades Cove is a popular destination for tent and RV camping all year round. The campground is situated nearby Townsend, TN – home to some of the best sightseeing opportunities in the country. As well, while you’re there, you can see the Great Smoky Mountains National Park to its full potential. 

There are several horseback riding, hayrides, and carriage rides available in the area. You can also go biking on the many trails located throughout Cades Cove. While hiking, you may also encounter some black bears and coyotes. Abrams Falls is a must-see for anyone who loves nature and enjoys hiking. 

The 5-mile trail is not difficult and has beautiful views along the way. You will have all the access to the amenities that Cades Cove Campground offers including a general store, a ranger station, and more.

6. Abrams Creek Campground

Abrams Creek Campground

If you have a taste for the more rustic things in life, then Abrams Creek Campground is certainly the place for you. Nestled deep in the mountains of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, this beautiful location offers campers enough amount of area to spend their quality time in peace, away from other crowded tourist spots. 

I like its private feeling and how it’s still full of life. There are plenty of recreational activities to do here like hiking and fishing, so you’ll never find yourself bored. It is located 1125 feet above sea level, so you can imagine the wonderful views you’ll get to experience. 

Perfectly maintained hiking trails, fresh air, and beautiful scenery – what more could you ask for? An 800-mile-long trail system is just waiting to be explored. You will find extraordinary trout fishing in the park. Modern amenities like electric hookups and showers are not available here, but still, you will have access to flush toilets and potable water.

7. Brookside Campground

Brookside Campground

Brookside Campground is the perfect place to kickstart your next Smoky Mountain adventure in Tennessee. It is nestled right on the banks of Rowland’s Creek and is just a short drive from the Nantahala River. Also, the grassy, open meadows are a great spot for kids to play and explore.

This campground offers complete electric hookups, so you can enjoy all the modern amenities of your home while still surrounded by the beauty of nature. If you are staying for more than a few days, you will appreciate the laundry facilities and the ability to dispose of garbage. 

Furthermore, you will be able to utilize clean bathrooms and hot showers during your stay. It is packed full of amenities and there are plenty of things to do nearby. It includes picnic sites, a playground, and a game room.

If you are looking for an adrenaline-pumping experience, look no further than the rafting trips offered by Brookside Campground. These trips are led by certified CPR guides and promise an unforgettable experience.

8. Deep Creek Campground

Deep Creek Campground

Deep Creek is known to be one of the most popular creeks in Great Smoky Mountain National Park. The campgrounds sit alongside the picturesque creek, providing the perfect place to enjoy some peace and quiet away from city life. 

The campground also features primitive sites, which are ideal for those who want to get back to nature. You will be amazed by the perfect views of the Great Smoky Mountains from your campsite. 

Additionally, you can enjoy the modern amenities that the campground has to offer, such as flush toilets, campfire rings, and barbecue grills. Also, drinking water is available for all the guests. Explore some beautiful and easy hiking trails to waterfalls or take your mountain bike out for a spin on the nearby bike trails.

9. Moonshine Creek Campground

Moonshine Creek Campground

Moonshine Creek Campground is the most beautiful, hidden gem nestled in the mountains of North Carolina. In Sylva, North Carolina, this campground is only minutes away from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. All the best hiking trails, fishing spots, and scenic views are right at your fingertips. 

Situated on the banks of Moonshine Creek, this campground offers the perfect setting for a family vacation or a romantic getaway. With plenty of hookup campsites available, you’ll be able to enjoy all the amenities of your home while surrounded by natural beauty. 

There are 91 campsites available with lots of room for tents. With all the facilities you need like full electric hookups, fire rings, picnic tables, and free wifi, this campground has everything you need for a comfortable stay. The Camp store is always open for your convenience. 

Don’t miss to visit the Blue Ridge Parkway and take in the stunning scenery. This is a fantastic location to unwind and enjoy nature.

10. Cataloochee Campground

Cataloochee Campground

Cataloochee Campground is nestled in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, one of America’s most scenic and rugged national parks. This beautiful campground is home to some amazing hiking opportunities and is the perfect place to relax and enjoy the incredible views.

It is located in a remote area of the park, which means that it is away from some of the more crowded areas. There are no modern amenities at the campground, but this just adds to its primitive charm. Group of 25 people? No problem! This campground can accommodate large groups, and there are plenty of activities to keep everyone entertained.

Don’t worry if you have a larger group, just rent out all three campsite areas where up to 75 guests can stay. You can enjoy hiking and fishing in the beautiful Cataloochee Creek, or just relax and take in the stunning views.

11. Smokemont Campground

Smokemont Campground

If you want your family to have a great time camping in North Carolina, then you should definitely check out Smokemont Campground. This campground has plenty of activities to keep your kids entertained, as well as beautiful scenery that the whole family can enjoy. 

It is nestled right on the banks of Rowland’s Creek and is just a short drive from the Nantahala River.

From anywhere in the campground, you can experience stunning views of your natural surroundings because the campground is elevated at 2200 feet above sea level. Many years ago, this place has been home to humans during the Paleoindian era. 

This is definitely a great spot to enjoy some quality time with your family. At this park, visitors can go swimming, fishing, and hiking – just to name a few of the recreational activities available. The Bradley Fork River is a great place to go for a swim or to fish for trout. 

Campsite options include RV hookups and tent sites. If you’re looking to enjoy some time grilling with friends and family, there are plenty of picnic tables available throughout the campground. Other amenities include a modern bathhouse and flush toilets.

This is the perfect place to take your family camping for a pleasant experience. Youngsters can play on the playground, and everyone can enjoy a game of volleyball or football on the grassy ground.

I would recommend you turn off your electronic devices to really enjoy the peace and quiet of this paradise.

12. Tsali Campground

Tsali Campground

In Almond, North Carolina is a place called Tsali Campground. This is a great place where you can make new friends, explore the area, and just have a great time. During the pioneer era, the area was first settled by indigenous people. The campground is named after one of these people, Tsali. 

The night stays are only available between April and October, so keep that in mind when making your travel plans. There are 42 campsites present, and they are available on a first-come, first-serve rule. Moreover, there are no electric hookups, but there is a water spigot available for everyone’s convenience. 

This is a great place to bring your RV or tent and just enjoy some peace and quiet. More amenities such as fire rings, day-use picnic tables, and hot showers are present to make your camping experience more enjoyable. It is present right on the banks of Fontana Lake, which is a great place to go fishing or boating.

13. Standing Indian Campground

Standing Indian Campground

The Standing Indian Campground is the perfect place for a quick getaway. With reservation campsites and first-come/first-serve spots, it’s easy to find a spot that suits your needs. And at less than 20 minutes from Franklin, North Carolina, it’s the perfect location for a weekend escape. 

The campground has beautiful views of the Smoky Mountains and is a great starting point for hikes in the area. The Nantahala National Forest is also nearby, so there’s plenty to do and see. There are numerous things to do while camping, including fishing, hiking, and bird watching. 

Also, don’t forget the dump station and drinking water that are available on-site. Kimsey Creek is available for larger groups and is a great option for those who want to enjoy the outdoors with friends or family.

14. Greenbrier Campground

Greenbrier Campground

The Greenbrier Campground gives you the perfect opportunity to get away from it all and experience camping in a modern setting. With its beautiful surroundings and peaceful atmosphere, you’ll feel like you’re really getting back to nature – but with all the conveniences of our technological society. 

With its modern amenities like electricity, water, and sewage hookups, you can still stay connected to the outside world no matter where your camping trip takes place. The complimentary Wi-Fi is a real bonus, too – you can stay connected with family and friends back home without having to worry about racking up data charges. 

Many other tons of activities are available at the campground for your enjoyment, including volleyball, badminton, Bocce Ball, Corn Hole, and Horseshoes. If you’re looking for something a little more relaxing, you can always take advantage of the charcoal grills, golf cart rentals, luxury bathhouses, and outdoor billiards.

15. Anthony Creek Horse Camp

Anthony Creek Horse Camp

Anthony Creek Horse Camp is a must-visit for any nature lover. The campground is situated in an area of incredible natural beauty. The Anthony creek features rolling waters and is a sight to behold. Furthermore, during spring you will find an abundance of wildflowers in bloom. 

Similar to other horse campgrounds, you are required to bring your own horse in order to enjoy the facilities. And there are no showers or hookups, so come prepared. The benefit of visiting Anthony Creek Horse Camp is that it is relatively close to Codes Cave. You can also encounter beer here, as it is one of the area’s favorite beverages. 

Hiking is considered the ideal pastime to do in the areas near this campground. You can take trails up to Bote Mountain and Abram’s Falls where you’ll find incredible views. The sounds of the birds will immediately put you at ease. Make sure to keep an eye out for deer and turkeys! They often wander into these developed areas without warning.

Best Tent Camping in The Smoky Mountains, TN: The Bottom Line

The Smoky Mountains are a beautiful place to go camping and there are many different campgrounds to choose from depending on your preferences. Whether you’re looking for stunning views or easy access to hiking trails, there’s sure to be a campground that’s perfect for you. 

I have listed down all the best tent camping spots in The Smoky Mountains, TN so that you can choose the perfect one for your needs. Not only will you find incredible views and plenty of activities to keep you busy, but you’ll also be able to take advantage of modern amenities that will make your camping trip even more enjoyable. 

With so many great spots to choose from, you’re sure to find the perfect spot for your next adventure in the great outdoors!

Camping in The Smoky Mountains, TN: FAQs

How much does it cost to camp in Cades Cove?

The cove offers stunning views of the mountains, along with a chance to see wildlife up close. Visitors can explore the cove by foot, bike, or car. Camping is also available in Cades Cove, and the fee is $25 per night. The campsites come complete with picnic tables, fire grates, and water and electricity hookups.

Why is Great Smoky Mountains National Park so popular?

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the United States. Every year, millions of people flock to the park to enjoy its breathtaking views, hiking trails, and abundance of wildlife. There are many reasons why the park is so popular, but one of the most appealing factors is its accessibility. 

Located in Tennessee and North Carolina, the park is within driving distance for many people in the eastern half of the country. Additionally, the park offers a variety of activities for visitors to enjoy, from fishing and camping to visiting historic sites and admiring scenic vistas.

What is the best time of year to visit the Smoky Mountains?

If you’re looking to avoid the crowds but still enjoy all that Great Smoky Mountains National Park has to offer, then plan your visit for June, July, or October. 

These months tend to have the lowest footfall, due in part to the fact that they fall outside of the traditional summer vacation period. However, the park is just as beautiful in the summer as it is in the winter, and you’ll find that there are still plenty of things to see and do.

How many days do you need in the Smoky Mountains?

Unfortunately, there is no set answer to how many days you need in the Smoky Mountains. It really varies on your personal interests and fitness level. If you love hiking and want to explore the backcountry, you’ll need more time than someone who just wants to drive around and sightsee. 

However, four days is really the minimum amount of time you need to start to scratch the surface of what the park has to offer. If you have the opportunity, always extend your stay.

But four days should give you plenty of time to hike to some of the best lookout points, tour some of the historic sites, and simply enjoy the beauty of nature.

Allen Campbell with Master Canopies

Allen Campbell

Allen is a full time writer at and enjoys traveling around the United States and exploring nature. He enjoys writing about canopies as he believes they are extremely crucial in having a successful camping trip whether it be a trip to the beach, mountains, or the open plains.

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