Elkmont Campground in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park features 220 sites for tents, and space for RVs and motorhomes that are up to 35-feet-long. With unique features like Jake’s Creek and Little River flowing right through the campground, it isn’t surprising that Elkmont is the busiest campground in the national park. You will also find trails, historic architectural remnants from the Little River Lumber Company, and plenty of ideal fishing spots. 

So you can make the most of your stay at Elkmont Campground, we have gathered tips from some of The Dyrt campers who have already been there. 



Camping at Elkmont Campground, TN

Make A Reservation

Like many National Park campgrounds, the area can get busy during the summertime. To make things go smoothly, especially if you are hoping to get one of the coveted waterfront camp sites along Little River, you can make a reservation online in advance. Planning ahead (we mean way ahead) can help ensure you get the site you want. Many of these sites book out months, if not a whole year, in advance. 

“This is one of the more popular sites within the park and fills quickly (especially the AMAZING sites right along the water). So if you’re interested in spending a few nights here, be sure to make your reservations early” – The Dyrt camper Sarah C. 

 

Visit in the Spring

June through August are the peak time for summer camping. If you are able to go earlier in the season you just might have an even more enjoyable experience. Spring camping in March – May has a lot to offer. In fact, Tennessee can be incredibly hot, and the shoulder seasons offer less crowded campgrounds as well as milder weather.

“We’ve never went in summer when it’s hot, humid, and busy, but in the spring Elkmont Campground is GORGEOUS with all the blooming rhododendrons. It was exceptionally clean even with all the mud from spring rain and melt,” – The Dyrt camper Kim B.

Bring Everything You Need

Some campgrounds are easier to buy necessities at than others. Some people like having this convenience on hand and some people don’t. Elkmont Campground does offer a small shop for necessities onsite. But, don’t expect 24-7 convenience store accommodations. The shop’s hours are incredibly limited, and the nearest grocery store is 30 miles away. Make a list before you start packing up your camping gear, and do your best to make sure that you already have everything you need. 

 “You can buy some basic stuff at the little vending station where a tiny little shop opens for 2 hours a day from 4-6pm. You can’t even call it a shop. It’s a storage shed with a guy standing in front of it. You can buy firewood and maybe a couple dozen items ranging from mosquito repellent to tent spikes.” – The Dyrt camper Augy P. 

Pack Your Fishing Gear

Jake’s Creek and Little River both run through Elkmont Campground. You will find excellent fishing here, especially in Little River. Just remember to bring your Tennessee fishing permit along with you. If you don’t feel up to fishing, the area offers a relaxing space to unwind while listening to the babbling of the water nearby. There are even a few campsites right along the banks, but if you want one you’ll probably have to book it well in advance.

“Each spot has plenty of room for each individual/group and the creek runs right through the middle of it (absolutely breathtaking!). Facilities are very clean and easily accessible. You could stay stay here for a while and still discover new trails and fishing spots.” – The Dyrt camper Savannah C. 

Don’t Skip the Ghost Town

Smoky Mountain National Park includes a ghost town called Cades Cove. The town was originally a logging camp in the 1800s. The site has since fallen into ruin. Most of the buildings are historical landmarks so they have not been demolished, but left instead to be admired by campers at Elkmont Campground.

“The ghost town was a nice surprise, especially the area along the creek. Check out the cabins (remnants of an old tourist attraction at the locale) and the old cemetery from the original logging camp.” – The Dyrt camper Lynn G. 


Hatie Parmeter

Hatie Parmeter

Hatie Parmeter is a current Chicagoan but will always be a Minnesotan at heart. She is the founder of Whoa Mag, an online magazine about women who inspire others with their love of the outdoors. She enjoys paddling wood-canvas canoes in the BWCA and walking her dog Norah Jones.