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Camping In The Smoky Mountains

There are many ways of camping in the Smoky Mountains. Frontcountry campsites (10) are developed and maintained by the National Park Service and include bathrooms and drinking water, while backcountry campsites (88) are just designated locations for backpackers to set up their own camps. Read on for more information about the types of campgrounds in the Smoky Mountains.

Frontcountry Camping

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park Service maintains developed camping in the Smoky Mountains at ten locations in the park: Abrams Creek, Balsam Mountain, Big Creek, Cades Cove, Cataloochee, Cosby, Deep Creek, Elkmont, Look Rock, and Smokemont campgrounds.


Camping at each location has restrooms with cold running water and flushable toilets, but there are no showers or electrical for water hookups in the park. Each individual campsite has a fire grate and picnic table. Call 1-800-365-CAMP or visit the National Park Service Reservation Center online to make reservations for camping in the Smoky Mountains!

Backcountry Camping

Consider backcountry camping in the Smoky Mountains only if you are prepared to carry in all necessities! Backcountry campsites are for the avid backpacker. All backcountry campers are required to obtain a free backcountry permit. Remember to camp only in a designated site or shelter. There are 88 backcountry campsites and 15 shelters available in the national park.

Backcountry Sites

Backcountry Permits

Backcountry permits for camping in the Smoky Mountains are available at most ranger stations and visitor centers along with free backcountry maps showing all the hiking trails, camping areas, and a list of rules, regulations, and safety concerns. Backcountry permits and AT thru-hiker permits can be made within two weeks from the first night of your trip.

Backcountry Permits
Camping In The Smoky Mountains

Backcountry Shelters

Campers need reservations to stay in any of the shelters. To make a reservation, call (865) 436-1231 during regular business hours. For backcountry information call (865) 436-1297 and for backcountry shelter reservations, call (865) 436-1231. Find more info at Recreation.gov and the NPS website. Always prepare before heading into the backcountry by getting a local weather forecast and be aware of the local climate.

Campgrounds & RV Parks

Looking to camp outside of the national park? Camping in the Smoky Mountains isn't limited to backcountry and frontcountry. Pigeon Forge & Gatlinburg have amazing luxury camping or glamping options to choose from. If glamping is more your style, choose from camping cabins, luxury tents, and RV rentals on our campgrounds page.