Camping in the Great Smoky Mountains can be an exciting adventure for families and friends to enjoy together. There are many campgrounds in the Western North Carolina area to visit, all with beautiful views and plenty of outdoor activities to enjoy. Below is a list of some of our favorites.
Five Campgrounds to Visit in the Smokies
Rattler Ford Campground
Rattler Ford Campground is located along the Santeetlah Creek and Lake Santeetlah in the Nantahala National Forest. This campground is a popular spot for fly fishing and other water sports activities, like canoeing and boating. Visitors can enjoy on-site horseshoe pits and volleyball courts, as well as nearby hiking trails and scenic drives.
This campsite is also located a mere quarter of a mile from the entrance to the Joyce Kilmer-Slickrock Wilderness and the Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest where hikers can enjoy 17,000+ acres of old-growth forest.
At Rattler Ford Campground, there are four separate sites with varying facilities; however, each can accommodate several tents and a maximum of 25 guests. Each site contains tables, lantern posts, campfire pits, and oversized grills. The campground also provides flush toilets, drinking water, and hot showers.
Deep Creek Campground
Deep Creek Campground in Bryson City is an ideal camping spot for hikers and water recreation enthusiasts. Situated next to one of the most popular creeks in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Deep Creek Campground offers traditional camping with stunning views.
The hiking trails of the Smoky Mountains are easily accessible from Deep Creek Campground. You can also hike to two beautiful waterfalls in the area! For those that enjoy fishing, wading, and tubing, Deep Creek is perfect for you.
Deep Creek Campground has 92 individual campsites that have tables, fire pits, and grills. Flush toilets and drinking water are available, too. The campground also provides a limited selection of camping supplies, groceries, food and beverages, and bundles of firewood.
Wayah Bald in Macon County west of Franklin, North Carolina, is the ideal location for backcountry/wilderness hike-in camping. This camping location features the historic Wayah Bald Fire Tower, which offers an incredible view of the surrounding mountains. Two long-distance hiking trails – the Appalachian and Bartram Trails – cross the bald at the tower.
Hikers can also visit the nearby Wilson Lick Ranger Station – the first ranger station in the Nantahala National Forest, which was built in 1913.
Wayah Bald campsites have spots for tents, plus drinking water, and are campfire and pet-friendly.
Cheoah Point Campground
Cheoah Point Campground sits on a peninsula on Lake Santeetlah in Robbinsville, North Carolina. Here, recreational opportunities abound for outdoor enthusiasts of all kinds! Many of the campsites overlook the lake and are surrounded by steep yet beautiful terrain. Hikers can take advantage of the many trails located in the nearby Nantahala National Forest. At an elevation of 1,760 feet, Cheoah Point is a must-visit!
Fishers can find Lake Santeetlah well-stocked with trout, walleye, bass, bream, crappie, and more. The lake is also a popular spot for water recreation like swimming, canoeing, boating, and jet skiing.
Cheoah Point Campground offers both open and wooded campsites. Each site can accommodate up to 10 guests and two vehicles. There are also six RV sites with 15/30/50 amp electrical hookups. All campsites include tables, fire pits, and grills. Hot showers, drinking water, and flush toilets are also provided.
Standing Indian Campground
Located in the beautiful Nantahala National Forest just 20 minutes from Franklin, North Carolina, Standing Indian Campground is an ideal spot for both tent and RV campers. It is also the perfect destination for hiking enthusiasts, providing access to many beautiful trails.
Surrounded by 5000-foot peaks, Standing Indian Campground sits at an elevation of 3,880-feet, is crossed by multiple natural streams, and is located at the headwaters of the Nantahala River. The Nantahala River is perfect for trout fishing, whitewater rafting, and kayaking.
The campground’s four loops feature sites available for reservation or on a first-come, first-served basis. Each campsite is equipped with fire pits, grills, lantern posts, and tables. Nearby drinking water, showers, and flush toilets are also available for campers.
Take Care of Your Surroundings
When camping in the Great Smoky Mountains, there are a few guiding principles to consider.
- Leave No Trace: help us keep our campgrounds and trails beautiful and protect them from overuse, trash, and harm to local wildlife. Clean up after yourselves, and be sure to leave no trace of your adventure behind!
- Be Bear Aware: being outdoors means being surrounded by wildlife – and that includes bears. Before you head out on your camping trip, be sure everyone in your party is aware of these tips in case you encounter a bear.
- Be Fire Safe: before lighting your campfire, check for fire restrictions or closures in the area. Make sure your fire is fully extinguished and cold to the touch before leaving the area. Find more fire safety tips from the US Forest Service here.
For more ideas on camping in the Great Smoky Mountains, visit https://www.visitsmokies.org/camping!