Bring the whole family to beautiful Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the perfect place to camp and explore the wonders of nature. Camping with kids in the Smoky Mountains can be a great experience that will bring your family closer together and help your kids to get acquainted with the great outdoors. The Smoky Mountains are a gorgeous place filled with excellent hiking trails, remote campsites and so much wilderness to explore. Camping with kids in the Smoky Mountains requires a little bit of preparation to ensure that things go smoothly. Here are some tips that you can keep in mind for your trip with the kids to the Smoky Mountains.
Choose A Campsite
The Smoky Mountains have several different types of campsites to choose from, so while you are planning your trip you should look into which type is best suited to you. There are backcountry sites that require hiking several miles, but these might be impractical to visit with children and require a permit. Front country or campgrounds might be a better option, as they are close to restrooms with running water and flush toilets and they offer picnic tables and fire pits.Types Of Campgrounds
If you are new to camping as well, it is best to start with front country camping. It's a great way to test your knowledge with the extra comfort of knowing you have access to amenities and usually other campers if you need some help. Once you are confident in your skills, head to the backcountry with your kids.
Practice With Your Camping Equipment
You want to make sure that you know how to set up the tent and use the camping stove before you are out in the wilderness, so a trial run night of camping in the backyard is a great idea. It'll also help your kids prepare for the trip and get excited to be outdoors. You can practice putting up the tent poles, cooking on your camp stove and using any other equipment that you might have. This is a great opportunity to teach your kids camping skills in a comfortable environment before you camp for real.
Also, if you have a young child who has never been camping before, starting with a sleep out in the backyard will help them to feel more comfortable and ease their anxiety.
Involve The Whole Family In Packing
While it's easy to want to pack for the whole family, let your kids get involved and pack their own camping supplies. Use it as a teaching opportunity to explain how to dress for the weather and what they'll need to be outdoors for an extended period of time. If you're hiking into a site, make sure that their bags are easy to carry and don't weigh too much. Before you leave, double check to make sure that everything they need made it in the bag.
Pack A Comfort Item
Being away from home is a challenge for most kids, even if they are with family. Sleeping in nature can be scary for some kids with the unfamiliar sights and sounds. While you want to encourage your kids to play outdoors in nature as much as possible, it's a great idea to bring a stuffed animal or blanket to make them feel comfortable at night. It's also a great idea to let them have flashlights, mini lanterns or even glow sticks to hang on to once the sun goes down.
Check The Weather
The weather in the Smoky Mountains can be unpredictable and temperatures will vary depending on the elevation and the time of year. It is important to wear layers, so that you can adjust your clothing to the rapidly changing temperature. You'll also want to plan for rain and storms in advance, just in case. While it may seem like overkill if the forecast is full of sun, there is nothing worse than waking up to wet clothes and sleeping bags in the middle of the night after an unexpected storm.
Stay Positive & Find Teachable Moments
Camping can have a lot of challenges mixed in: Think missing equipment, bugs, rain, dirt and more. While some parts of camping may be uncomfortable, even for adults, it's important to remain confident and positive. Use these challenges as opportunities to teach your children how to improvise when something doesn't go as planned. If you are flexible and positive, your kids will be less likely to have a meltdown when things go wrong.
If you're really intimidated by the idea of camping with kids in the Smoky Mountains for the first time, leave the tent and sleeping bags at home and start out with glamping in Pigeon Forge. Glamping is a great way to ease into getting the whole family outdoors without sacrificing comfort. No matter how you camp, getting outdoors on your trip to the Smoky Mountains will make for unforgettable experiences with your family.