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There is little better to heighten an outdoor adventure than to utilize one of the campgrounds at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The park’s 10 developed campgrounds accommodate tents, RVs or fifth wheel vehicles. However, if you are going to stay at a Great Smoky Mountains campground this summer, be sure to know the rules and regulations that govern the campsites and provide visitors with the best outdoor experience.
Storing Food — The campgrounds have strict rules regarding food, starting with where you keep it. Keep food related items, including cookware, inside either your locked car or a solid structure (RV or fifth wheel) when not in use. Bears and other wildlife are attracted to the smell of food. If you do not have a solid storage space, food lockers are available at Balsam Mountain, Big Creek, Cades Cove, Cataloochee, Cosby, Deep Creek, Elkmont, and Smokemont campgrounds.
Reserve & Register — Because the Great Smoky Mountains campgrounds are very popular places, some have strict reservation policies. Cataloochee Campground, for example, is reservation only. Campsites at Cades Cove, Cosby, Elkmont and Smokemont are available by reservation. All other sites are first come-first serve. However, ALL campers must register their site upon arrival and pay the camping fee at either the pay station or campground office.
Maximum Capacities — At all park campgrounds, there is a maximum stay of 14 consecutive days. Anyone who wants to stay longer will have to change campgrounds. Also, there is a maximum of six persons per campsite, unless you are staying in a group camping area. Finally, only two motor vehicles are permitted per campsite, or one vehicle and a trailer. All vehicles and trailers must be parked on the pavement and all tents must be pitched on the pads provided at each campsite.
Fires & Firewood — Great Smoky Mountains has strict fire policies in place. It is allowable to collect firewood around your campsite but only if it is laying on the ground or is dead wood. Firewood cannot be brought into the park from surrounding counties if there is a state or federal firewood quarantine in place for that county. All campfires must be created and kept within the provided fire grills. Fireworks are not allowed inside the national park, including campgrounds.
Pet & Quiet — Furry family friends are allowed inside park campgrounds but they must all must be kept on a leash. Campers are asked to keep pet noise to a minimum and keep them off of local trails. It is also illegal to leave pets alone at your campsite. Quiet hours are 10pm to 6am in all campgrounds, and generators cannot be used between 8pm and 8am. Only registered campers have access to the campgrounds after 10pm.
Water of All Types — Waste water must be let out at utility sinks or the dump stations. Sewage must be dumped at the appropriate stations as well. Campers are prohibited from bathing in streams or fountains. Alcohol is permitted inside park campgrounds and picnic areas for those 21 and over.