the great smokey mountains national park: part one – camping

We approached The Great Smokey Mountains National Park from the North Carolina side. When we entered the park, we were welcomed by the greeting committee (A herd of Elk.) The time of year for our visit was October, with temperatures in the 30’s at night and 70’s (Fahrenheit) during the day. We were on our way west after a seven month Maritimes adventure that took us through five eastern Canadian provinces – a 15,000 mile journey.

We didn’t get any reservations, we just showed up at the visitor center and enquired about space available camping. The ranger said, “yes,” and gave us a map with directions to the open campground.

We actually camped in two campgrounds during our visit to the Smokey Mountains. Our first night we camped in Deep Creek Campground. We had to leave the national park and then re-enter through the back of the park to get to Deep Creek. The second campground we stayed at for two nights was Smokemont Campground that is located right in the heart of the activities in the park.

Like most national parks, The Great Smokey Mountains National Park campsites don’t have electric or water hookups. However, there is potable water available in the campgrounds. It’s dry camping at its finest, (Dry camping is RV lingo for camping without water and electric hookups) but we don’t mind dry camping because our rig is completely self-contained. At $20 per night, $10 per night with the senior/access pass you can’t go wrong.

Campsites are paved and level. There’s plenty of room between sites and the sites are well shaded with large trees. The campsites are also close to many of the hiking trails. Come along as we camped on the North Carolina side of the Smokey Mountains…

Smokey Mountains in October.
The road to The Smokey Mountains National Park from Durham, North Carolina.
More of the road into the Smokey Mountains in North Carolina, the topography started changing as we approached from rolling hills to mountains.
More from the road through North Carolina to the Smokey Mountains.
Approaching the Smokey Mountains.
Foot hills of the Smokey Mountains.
The road to the Smokey Mountains.
North Carolina side of the Smokey Mountains.
The welcoming committee.
More of the welcoming committee at the entrance of the park.
It was in the afternoon when we arrived at the park, apparently he had a long day greeting people.
More of the welcoming committee members. These elk were hanging out right along the road with hundreds of people stopped and taking pictures, clearly these animals hadn’t any fear of humans.
Powerful animals.
He got tired of looking at us and turned his back or perhaps he got tired of us looking at him and turned his back?
Our first campground in the Smokey Mountains. At ninety two campsites, Deep Creek was the smaller of the two campgrounds we stayed at here at the park.
Our campsite at Deep Creek Campground.

Some would say this isn’t camping unless you’re sleeping on the ground in a sleeping bag or in a tent. I just smile and nod then I go into my Leisure Travel Van and go to sleep in my nice comfy bed with my warm furnace running, my personal full size bathroom, and my kitchen complete with microwave and large refrigerator/freezer.

We always throw out the welcome mat wherever we stop for the night.
We use the rear storage for lawn chairs, a dog crate for when we are on ferries, tools, etc.
Luna checking out our campsite.
We had a pull through site. No one else around us.
Our second campground in the park. One hundred forty two campsites.
We had a back in site at Smokemont Campground.
Like our first campground, the sites were well spread out providing plenty of room to enjoy some privacy.
The Great Smokey Mountains are shrouded in a thick forest.
Living up to its name the Smokey Mountains have a heavy fog or mist covering them.
Smokey Mountains.
Thick forest everywhere you look.
We hiked a few trails while visiting the park. Follow along next time as we continue our adventure in The Great Smokey Mountains.

These beautiful mountains may not be the tallest in the world, but they possess a breathtaking view and hold the history of North America within them. Join us next time as we explore The Great Smokey Mountains National Park on foot in part two – hiking the trails…

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