Discover How To Use The Power of Authority Marketing To Make You Money While You Adventure!

No Experience, Existing Product Or Technical Skills Are Required


We're an affiliate.
We hope you love the products/services we recommend on Just Van Life! So you know, there is the possibility we will collect a commission should you make a purchase via any of our links. This will in no way affect the purchase price. Thank you for your support, we really appreciate it!

While there is definitely something to be said about the many man-made attractions across not only the US but the entire globe, there is no beauty that could ever compare to nature.

From the sun rising in those early hours to it saying its goodnights and farewells sinking deep beneath the horizon, it is a wonder to behold. 

The thick and luscious forestry of the smoky mountains provides home and shelter to diverse wildlife. And the long and winding trails will take you on an adventure of exploration and stunning views.

Budding colorful wildflowers open up with the beauty and innocence of an unharmed heart and powerful waterfalls cascade and crash with an elegance that highlights the splendor of a world that is so simultaneously strong and fragile. 

You can marvel at these amazing sights on foot, or perhaps you’ll opt to trot or gallop while horseback riding. How you set about your adventure is up to you, but one thing is for sure, this is a journey of joy that cannot be dismissed. 

So, let’s embark on this journey together and find you the absolute best spot to set up camp. Keep reading to find out the best places in the Smoky Mountains to make your home. 

Campgrounds In The Smoky Mountains

There are a vast number of campgrounds to choose from in this area, and while none of them could ever possibly disappoint, some are more geared toward certain kinds of holidays.

There are options for those who want a big family holiday, and there are options for those who want to spend a couple of days feeling like the only person left on the planet. Others are located next to pools of water for those who like to take a dip while others are closer to wondrous waterfalls. 

In this article, I’ll go over what each of the chosen campsites is best for and who they are more suited towards. So, sit back, relax, and enjoy as I guide you through the magnificence that is the Smoky Mountains. 

Let’s plan the perfect trip away for you. 

Mill Creek Resort – Best Family-Owned

Mill Creek Resort is a stunning family-owned campground that is the perfect spot for those of all ages. It’s far enough away from all the hustle and bustle that mom and dad will definitely feel as if they have escaped reality for a while.

It’s a very pretty and private spot that will definitely give you that sense of tranquility. 

However, as a parent myself, I know how quickly that tranquility can be disrupted when children feel too out of place. Access to cable TV, electric hook-ups, Wi-Fi, and water means that younger guests still have that sense of comfort and access to the ‘real world’ when all the hiking and exploration is over. 

There is also a basketball court, a playground, and an adult and children’s pool enabling many fun memories for the whole family. If you want to get away but still have that little sense of normal then Mill Creek Resort is definitely the place to be. 

Elkmont Campground – North – Best For Riverside Camping

This campground is located right next to the Little River and it is exceedingly popular for those that enjoy riverside camping. Because of this, the site can be pretty busy. But nonetheless, it is still one of my absolute favorite spots across the whole of the smoky mountains. 

If you like to keep busy, then you will adore this spot as there is just so much to do. The site is wrapped around 2,150 feet of thriving forestry so hiking trails are in abundance. I would definitely recommend the hike to Laurel Falls to watch the 80-foot waterfall cascading down the mountain.

And thanks to the stream there is ample chance for swimming and fishing too. 

And since you’re so close to a water source, there’s a pretty good chance you’ll see some of the amazing wildlife that takes residence in this area. So keep your eyes peeled for elk or bears that may be close by. 

KOA – Pigeon Forge And Gatlinburg – Best For Kids

While we parents really enjoy the views and peace that come with a camping escape…our kids…not so much. Now, this isn’t to say that they won’t enjoy the views, hikes, and adventures because they definitely will. But sometimes, kids need a little more stimulation, they don’t have the appreciation for peace that we adults do. 

And that’s where KOA is the perfect compromise. You have all the beauty and splendor of the Smoky Mountains with some additional amenities, attractions, and activities that you won’t find in any of the other campsites. 

KOA has the Dollywood Theme Park and Wonderworks along with some waterfront sports options. You can also rent bikes, play basketball, go for a swim in the pool, go exploring for fossils, play frisbee golf, and even watch a movie at their Outdoor Cinema. 

So if you’re looking for the best of both worlds with the escapism of the mountains along with those dopamine bursts for your little ones then KOA is the ultimate camping ground for you. 

Best Campgrounds In The Smoky Mountains

Cataloochee Campground – East – Best For Solitude

One of the great appeals of camping is escaping from the business of our fast-paced lives. If you’re looking for a spot that is going to make it feel as if time has stopped and the earth has momentarily stopped revolving around the sun, then this is the place for you. 

Disappear from the crowds and bask in the beauty of the Smoky Mountains in peace and quiet. Scour scenic trails and marvel and spectacular sights while enjoying some well-deserved alone time. I couldn’t think of a better place to find a profound sense of self. 

Just ensure that you come prepared as this camp offers only drinking water and flushing toilets. There are no showers. You can even really become one with nature by trying some hammock camping! However, you’ll need to stick to the regulations of the ground ensuring that you only have two hammocks per 10-inch diameter tree. 

Smokemont Campground – South – Best For Group Camping

Make your group excursion epic by staying at the Smokemont Campground. This is by far the best place to stay if you’re bringing everyone along for your camping trip. The staff are known for being notoriously friendly and helpful so if you have any questions don’t hesitate to ask. 

And if you’re looking for a place to really be at one with the world and bond as a group, you couldn’t pick a better place. Be sure to switch off your phones so that you can truly be present and appreciate the wonders that are around you. 

You’ll have access to the nearby Bradley Fork River where you can go for a dip or a spot of fishing. You’ll have a backdrop of vast mountains, flowing rivers, and stunning flowers as you settle down or slumber. Then when you wake, you’ll have ample opportunity to adventure into the main trails that you have access to.  

Cades Cove Campground – West – Best For Wildlife Spotting

If you adore animals and want to spot as much wildlife as possible during your stay then you need to set up camp at Cades Cove. Following the 11-mile loop route, you’ll want to take your binoculars and camera as you spot the likes of white-tailed deer, turkeys, raccoons, black bears, coyotes, groundhogs, skunks, birds, and more. 

And not only do you have access to this loop brimming with wildlife, but you can also opt to travel to Abram Falls where after a 2.5-mile hike, you’ll be rewarded with the view of a stunning waterfall from its pool base. 

From forests to creeks, to streams and rivers, you’ll have endless opportunities to spot the magnificent and diverse wildlife that resides around this area.   

Final Thoughts

As you can see, there are so many wonderful camping spots in these stunning mountains that will leave you with memories that last a lifetime. Regardless of where you stay, you will be blown away by the spectacular sights and the abundance of nature and wildlife. 

The only difference between these camps will be the amenities and activities that they provide. If you’re looking for a trip away where your day-to-day life ceases to be then you’ll definitely want to stay in campgrounds such as Cataloochee.

However, if you want to still have some of your known comforts then I’d definitely recommend grounds such as KOA and Mill Creek. 

Regardless of the spot you choose, I wish you a triumphant trip that will be talked about for many years to come. Make memories that will stay with you always and appreciate those smaller things in life; nature, family, sense-of-self. Bask in the beauty and seek out those once-in-a-lifetime adventures that are waiting right at your doorstep.

Discover How To Use The Power of Authority Marketing To Make You Money While You Adventure!

No Experience, Existing Product Or Technical Skills Are Required


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Scroll to Top