Great Smoky Mountains National Park Fees & Reservations
The best things in life are free, and Great Smoky Mountains National Park is certainly one of the best places in the world, so it kind of stands to reason that it should be free too . . . yep, entrance to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is absolutely free! Other activities within the park, however, are not free and for them you have to pay! Let’s take a look at how much you’ve got to pay for different activities within the park.
Front Country Camping at Great Smoky Mountains National Park
We’ll start with campground fees and facilities, after all, this is such a great place to visit that the majority of people don’t want to leave after just one day, they wanna’ stay over for a night or two.
Campground facilities – each campground has restrooms complete with running water (cold) and flushing toilets, as well as a fire grate and picnic table. No showers or electrical hook-ups are available in the park, if you want to shower you’ll have to visit one of the facilities outside the park. Each campground will have details of the closest facilities should you feel the need for a hot shower. Food storage lockers are provided at many of the campgrounds, and if your vehicle doesn’t have a trunk then you’d better use ’em.
Some of the campgrounds accept advance reservations, in fact, Cataloochee campground insists upon it, but many of them are on a first come, first served basis. So what will it cost you to camp in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park?
- Abrams Creek – it’ll cost you $14 per night for one of the 16 sites available here, with a maximum RV length of only 12′.
- Balsam Mountain – has a total of 46 sites available for $14 per night, and can accommodate RV’s up to 30′ in length.
- Big Creek – will again charge $14 per night for one of the 12 sites here, but RV’s are not allowed.
- Cades Cove – will cost between $17 and $20 per night, can accommodate trailers up to 35′ and Motor-homes up to a maximum of 40′ – reservations are advised. There is a dump station at this campground.
- Cataloochee – it’ll cost you $20 per night to reserve one of the 27 sites here, RV’s up to 31′ can be accommodated but remember, if you don’t make a reservation you can’t stay at the Cataloochee campground . . . you just can’t, there are no “first come, first served” spaces.
- Cosby – has 165 sites for $14 per night, and can accommodate RV’s up to 25′. Reservations are accepted but not essential. Cosby campground also has a dump station.
- Deep Creek – has 92 sites available for a price of $17 per night each. RV’s up to 26′ are permitted at this campground. A dump station is available here.
- Elkmont – has 220 sites at prices ranging from $17 – $23 per night, you can take your trailer up to 32′ and your Motor home up to 35′, and reservations are available at this campground.
- Look Rock – has 68 sites for $14 per night. There is no size limit at this campground, first come, first served. A dump station is available at this campground.
- Smokemont – the 142 sites at this campground will cost you between $17 and $20 per night. Trailers are permitted up to 35′, and Motor homes up to a maximum of 40′. This campground also has a dump station.
Back Country Camping at Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Back country camping is free, but you do need to have a permit (which is free). You can get these permits at the visitor centers plus a load of campground offices. Back country camping in Great Smoky Mountains National Park is only permitted in the designated areas . . . of which there are many. There are back country campsites plus shelters (where you’re not allowed to put up a tent), some of which can be reserved in advance. The idea is that you plan your back packing route through Great Smoky Mountains National Park and decide in advance where you’re going to stay each night.
Group Camping at Great Smoky Mountains National Park
You must make a reservation if you want to use one of the group camping sites at the park, with payments made at the time of the reservation.
- Big Creek – has one site which can accommodate up to 25 people, at a cost of $44 per night
- Cades Cove – has four sites in all, two of which can accommodate up to 20 people for $35 per night, one for up to 30 people at a charge of $53 per night, and one with a pavilion for up to 30 people, at $65 per night.
- Cataloochee – have 3 group campsites which can accommodate up to 25 people for $35 per night
- Cosby – there are 3 group campsites for up to 20 people, at a price of $26 per night
- Deep Creek – has 3 group campsites for a maximum of 20 people each, priced at $35 per night
- Elkmont – has 1 campsite for up to 15 people at a price of $26, 2 for up to 20 people at $35 per night, and 1 for a maximum of 30 people for $53 per night
- Smokemont – has three campsites for up to 20 people, at a price of $35 per night
Horse Camping at Great Smoky Mountains National Park
There are five horse camps at Smoky Mountains National Park (sorry, forgot the “Great”), there are five horse camps at Great Smoky Mountains National Park (that’s better), each with a limit of six people and four horses. If there are more than that in your group then you’ve got to reserve extra sites. The fees are $20 per site for the majority of sites, but Big Creek is $25 per site. You’ve got to reserve horse camp sites in advance, pay in advance and lose your money if you don’t turn up. The horse camp sites are;
- Anthony Creek – which is located around 30 miles southeast of Maryville, TN on the US Highway 321, it has 3 sites, pit toilets and there is no potable water.
- Big Creek – is 16 miles to the east of Newport, TN, on I-40. There are 5 sites (some accessible), with potable water and flush toilets . . . no wonder it’s that little bit more expensive.
- Cataloochee – is around 25 miles north west of Asheville, with a total of 7 sites, pit toilets but no potable water.
- Round Bottom – is what you might have after a few days in the saddle! Sorry, couldn’t resist that one, it’s been a long day . . . right, Round Bottom is just to the north of Cherokee, and has 5 sites with pit toilets and no potable water.
- Tow String – has 2 sites, pit toilets and no water. It’s located 4 miles to the north of Cherokee.
Wasn’t that nice? Great Smoky Mountains National Park certainly is a great place to visit.
Picnic Areas at Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Some of the picnic areas at Great Smoky Mountains National Park can also be reserved, particularly the ones which have a pavilion. Here’s a quick list;
- Collins Creek – the 70 seat pavilion at Collins Creek picnic area can be reserved in advance for $20
- Cosby – has a 50 seat pavilion which can be reserved in advance at a cost of $20
- Deep Creek – the 70 pavilion here can also be reserved for just $20
- Greenbrier – has a 70 seat pavilion which can be reserved for just $10
- Metcalf Bottoms – the 70 seat pavilion at Metcalf Bottoms can be reserved for $20
- Twin Creeks – the 150 seat pavilion at Twin Creeks is available as a reservation only, for between $35 and $75