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Frontcountry Camping

Frontcountry Camping Great Smoky Mountains

Frontcountry camping offers restrooms with cold running water and flush toilets, but there are no showers or electrical or water hookups in the park. Shower facilities are available in the communities surrounding the national park. Please inquire about the nearest facilities when you check-in at the campground. Each individual campsite has a fire grate and picnic table. The National Park Service maintains developed campgrounds at 10 locations in the park:

During summer and fall, frontcountry camping sites at Elkmont, Smokemont, Cades Cove, and Cosby may be reserved online or by phone at (877) 444-6777. Reservations are accepted only for May 15-Oct 31. All other campgrounds are first-come, first-served.


A variety of new concession services are offered to visitors and new facilities are open. LeConte Lodge provides day hikers and backpackers with an opportunity to buy a prepared bag or dining room lunch, beverages, and baked snacks at the lodge. Cades Cove Riding Stables offers wheelchair accessible carriage rides and hayrides. In addition, new facilities at Sugarlands Riding Stable include a modern wood and steel frame barn for housing horses, office, and hay shed.

A majority of campgrounds and secondary roads will open starting the second Fridayin March. The schedule follows: Roads – The secondary roads that open on the second weekend in March include: Little Greenbrier, Rich Mountain, Straight Fork/Round Bottom, Forge Creek, and Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail. Clingmans Dome Road opens on April 1 and the Heintooga Ridge and Balsam Mountain Roads opens the first weekend in May.

Operating Hours for Visitor Centers – The three visitor centers are open daily and the operating hours through March are as follows: Sugarlands Visitor Center, near Gatlinburg, TN, 8 a.m.-5 p.m., Cades Cove Visitor Center, near Townsend, TN, 9 a.m.-6 p.m., and the Oconaluftee Visitor Center near Cherokee, NC, hours will be 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.

The National Recreation Reservation Service (NRRS) provides visitors an opportunity to make reservations to many federally-managed recreation areas, including the National Park Service, all across the U.S. The system allows campers to reserve specific campsites and to make reservations 6 months in advance. In addition, group campsites and picnic pavilions can be reserved up to 12 months in advance. To make reservations at three of the Park’s developed campgrounds, and all group campsites, horse camps, and picnic shelters, visitors can go to www.Recreation.Gov or call 877-444-6777.

frontcountry camper

open on a staggered basis starting the second Friday in March.

Three of the Park’s 10 campgrounds are on NRRS from May 15-October 31: Cades Cove, Elkmont, and Smokemont. Cosby Campground has a limited number of reservable sites through NRRS. Camping fees are $14 per site at the smaller, more primitive campgrounds, and $17-$23 at the larger campgrounds.

Campers have an opportunity to camp in “generator free” campsites at three campgrounds: Cades Cove, Elkmont, and Smokemont campgrounds. Campers can reserve a site in the generator-free loop sections of Cades Cove and Elkmont campgrounds. At Smokemont, while there is no separate generator-free designation, loops A, B, and C are managed as tents only and are generator free, and RV campers who prefer a generator-free site may reserve a site in those loops.

Group Camping will be available at seven campgrounds (see schedule for opening dates) and reservations must be made through NRRS. Group camping is available at Big Creek, Cataloochee, Cosby, Deep Creek, Elkmont, Cades Cove, and Smokemont. The cost for group camping ranges from $26 to $65 per site/night.

Horse Camps at Anthony Creek, Big Creek, Cataloochee, Round Bottom, and Towstring will open April 1 and reservations are only available through NPRS. The horse site fees are $20 at all horse camps except for Big Creek where it is $25.

Picnic Areas – There are 10 first-come, first-served picnic areas. Open all year are Big Creek, Cades Cove, Chimney Tops, Cosby, Greenbrier, Deep Creek, and Metcalf Bottoms. Collins Creek Picnic Area will open on March 13 and Heintooga and Look Rock are scheduled to open on May 8. The Park’s largest picnic pavilion at Twin Creeks opens on April 1 and reservations are required through NRRS only. Twin Creeks fees range from $35-$75 depending on the number of people. In addition, picnickers can reserve five other picnic pavilions on NRRS. They are located at Collins Creek, Cosby, Deep Creek, Metcalf Bottoms, and Greenbrier picnic areas. The cost is $20, except at Greenbrier where it is $10.

Horseback Riding - The opening dates for the three horseback concessions located on the Tennessee side of the Park are: Smoky Mountain Riding Stable is open and the Sugarlands Riding Stable and the Cades Cove Riding Stable will open the third week in March. In addition to horseback rides which cost $25 per horse per rider, Cades Cove Riding Stable offer their customary carriage rides and hay rides along with wheelchair accessible carriage and hay rides. The Smokemont Riding Stable in North Carolina will open April 1 and provides visitors with a chance to experience a horse-drawn wagon ride along the route of the historic Oconaluftee Turnpike.

LeConte Lodge, accessible only by trail, will open on around March 23. Reservations are required and can be made by calling 865-429-5704, fax 865-774-0045 or email One night at the lodge costs $110 per adult and $85 for children 10 and under (tax not included). The price includes two meals--dinner and breakfast. For the first time this year, day hikers and backpackers can purchase a prepared bag or dining room lunch and snacks/beverages at the lodge. Reservations are required for the dining room lunch.

Campground Concessions – The Cades Cove Campground Store is open. The store provides groceries, camping supplies, firewood, ice, vending, limited food service, souvenirs, and bike rentals. The Cades Cove store has multi-speed comfort or mountain bikes available for rent, in addition to single speed cruisers. The Elkmont Campground concession will open the second weekend in March. The concession provides firewood, ice, and vending of soft drinks, newspapers, and snacks.

Campground Schedule (dates are approximate)
Campground Fee Open Number of Sites
North Carolina:      
Smokemont* $25 Year 'round 142
Balsam Mountain $17.50 May 18 - October 7 46
Deep Creek $21 March 30 - October 28 92
Big Creek $17.50 March 30 - October 28 12 - tents only
Cataloochee $25 March 23 - October 28 27
Cades Cove* $25 Year-round 157
Elkmont* $25 - $27 March 9 - November 25 220
Cosby $17.50 March 23 - October 28 157
Look Rock $17.50   68
Abrams Creek $17.50 May 22 - Oct. 13 16
*Reservations required.

Accessible sites: Cades Cove, Cosby, Deep Creek, Elkmont, Smokemont

Reservations may be made up to 6 months in advance for family and horse campgrounds, 1 year in advance for group campgrounds, picnic pavilions and the Appalachian Clubhouse and Spence Cabin

Note: Facilities are open through the season end dates.


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