Skip to Content

Tent Camping In The Smoky Mountains

Sharing is caring!

Are you looking for an exciting Smoky Mountains vacation? Tent camping in the Smoky Mountains offers a unique way to experience all that this beautiful area has to offer.

With its breathtaking views, lush forests, and a wide variety of wildlife, tent camping is the perfect way to explore this majestic region. Whether you’re planning a weekend getaway or an extended stay, there are plenty of opportunities for outdoor adventure and relaxation.

Tent Camping In The Smoky Mountains
Tent Camping In The Smoky Mountains

From peaceful hikes along mountain trails to fishing in cool streams, there are plenty of activities to enjoy while tent camping in the Smoky Mountains

Plus, with hundreds of campsites available throughout the park and nearby townships, finding just the right spot should be easy!

So come prepared with everything you need to make your stay memorable – from clothing and sturdy shoes to lots of camping food and drinks – and get ready to explore one of America’s most beloved natural wonders!

Where To Stay In Gatlinburg, TN?


Embark on a new adventure in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, and immerse yourself in the unparalleled beauty of the Smoky Mountains with a stay at Bear’s Wilderness Lodge, exclusively offered by GSM Family Vacations.

Nestled amidst the serene wilderness, this charming cabin offers a refreshing escape from the ordinary, inviting you to discover the true essence of mountain living.

Smoky Mountains Tent Camping

For those who love tent camping, there are many opportunities throughout the park for you to pitch your tent and explore all that nature has to offer. The park offers a variety of campsites including backcountry, frontcountry, and group camping settings.

Backcountry camping

Backcountry camping gives you the chance to explore the secluded areas of the park and is accessible only by foot or horseback. For all overnight visits in the backcountry, reservations and permits are required.

You can secure a permit from any visitor center, ranger station or campground in the park. They can also be obtained online. Furthermore, creating your own campsite is prohibited – all overnight campers and hikers need a reservation for a space at a campsite or shelter.

Backcountry camping sites: There are over 100 backcountry campsites and shelters at the park. Download a park trail map to find out the exact locations.

Frontcountry camping 

Frontcountry camping provides easy access to your vehicle and is available at developed campgrounds throughout the park, as well as picnic areas.

At the campgrounds in this national park, you’ll find a fire grate and picnic table next to each individual campsite. Plus, restrooms with cold running water and flush toilets are also provided for your convenience.

Shower facilities are only available in the surrounding communities of the national park. You can inquire about the nearest facilities upon checking in at the campground. 

Front Country Campgrounds: Abrams Creek, Balsam Mountain, Big Creek, Cades Cove, Cataloochee, Cosby, Deep Creek, Elkmont, Look Rock, Smokemont

*Cades Cove and Smokemont Campgrounds are open all year long, while other campgrounds keep a seasonal schedule.

Tent Camping In The Smoky Mountains
Tent Camping In The Smoky Mountains

Group Camping

If you’re looking for an ideal spot to camp with your large group of eight or more, there are group campsites in the park too and are located at selected frontcountry campgrounds.

Group campsites are available during the designated months and can only be used to host tents. Generators aren’t allowed in these areas, and motorhomes, campers or any other wheeled units cannot access this area either.

To camp in a group site, reservations are required. You can make reservations online or by calling the National Park Reservation Service at (877) 444-6777.

Group Campgrounds: Big Creek, Cades Cove, Cataloochee, Cosby, Deep Creek, Elkmont, Smokemont

Note: Only heat-treated wood that is bundled and approved by the USDA or a state department of agriculture can be taken into this park. It’s also possible to collect dead and down timber from within the park for your campfires.

Check the National Park Service website for additional information about campground rules and regulations including food storage regulations, generator use, and quiet hours.

Our Pick
Leatherman Signal 19-in-1 Multi-tool
$139.95

Includes a built-in fire starter; hammer, crimp fish hooks with the pliers, safety whistle, pliers, wire cutters, knife, saw, can opener, and more.

We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
04/10/2024 10:30 am GMT

How Much does it cost to camp in Smoky Mountain National Park?

Depending on your ideal camping spot and the type of camping you prefer, prices for a stay in the Smoky Mountains can vary.

  • Backcountry reservation fees: $4.00 per person/night, with a maximum fee of $20/person. Permits are good for 7 nights.
  • Frontcountry camping: $30 starting Mar 1, 2023
  • Group camping: $30 – $94 starting Mar 1, 2023

If you plan to camp in the frontcountry or with a group, no parking tag is needed as long as your vehicle remains in its designated spot.

However, if you intend on leaving your car elsewhere within the park boundaries, it will be mandatory to have a valid parking permit.

Smoky Mountains 7-Day Itinerary

I understand how difficult it can be to plan a trip, especially if it’s your first time going. That’s why I created this 7-day itinerary for the Smoky Mountains. It outlines all of the best places to go in the area and comes with insider tips that will save you a lot of stress–trust me, they saved me when I was planning my own trip!

  • Our 7-day itinerary takes you to the best places in the Smoky Mountains.
  • You’ll get to see all the best sights and attractions with driving directions
  • The itinerary is designed to show you the most scenic routes.
  • Packing Checklist for every season.
  • You’ll have everything you need to make the most of your trip.
  • Insider Tips!

Here’s a quick overview of our Smoky Mountains 7-Day Itinerary.

  • Day 1: Cades Cove Loop
  • Day 2: Rich Mountain Road
  • Day 3: Cataloochee Valley
  • Day 4: Newfound Gap Road
  • Day 5: Roaring Fork Motor Trail
  • Day 6: Little River Road
  • Day6: Foothills Parkway

Don’t Miss Our FREE Smoky Mountains Checklist Now!

Related Smoky Mountains Resources

MORE RELATED RESOURCES

Want to level up your camping experience in the Smokies? Go Glamping! Check out our Ultimate Guide to Glamping in the Great Smoky Mountains!

And if you’re camping with kids, try this national park scavenger hunt for more outdoor fun!

Don’t Miss Our Web Stories!

Sharing is caring!

Things To Do In The Smoky Mountains In December Black Bear Christmas Decor Black Bear Christmas Ornaments Christmas Light Displays at The Smokies Pigeon Forge Christmas Lights Gatlinburg Christmas Lights Dollywood Christmas Lights Gatlinburg Festival Of Trees Dollywood Christmas Tree Light Show Dollywood Christmas Shows