Camping In The Smoky Mountains (The Smokies)

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

Frontcountry Camping In The Smokies

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park Service maintains developed campgrounds in the Smoky Mountains near 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 only if you are prepared to carry in all necessities! Backcountry campsites are for the avid backpacker. All 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 Campground Permits

Backcountry campground permits for camping in the Smokies 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 Smoky Mountain campground 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 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? Smoky Mountains camping isn't limited to backcountry and frontcountry campgrounds. 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.


By continuing to use our website, you are accepting the use of cookies. For more information please read our privacy policy.