Thinking about getting in the Smokies to go camping, but don’t want to get too far into the Smokies? Cades Cove is home to a wonderful campground and a number backcountry sites you can reach via one of the many hiking trails. The main one is right on the left as you enter Cades Cove. At last count, they offered 159 camping sites and can handle trailers up to 35 feet. RVs are allowed to be a little larger than 40 feet. Sites are equipped with picnic tables, fire rings and a tent surface. And you can also find camping supplies at the Cades Cove Campground store.
You’ll also find that the Cades Cove Campground has a wealth of other conveniences in the form of comfort stations with toilets and running water. However, there are no showers at the Cades Cove Campground so our suggestion is to shower up before coming or just jump in a creek. No, in all seriousness, we’ll leave that one up to you.
On Bears: Fair warning, there are bears in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, so if you do decide to camp in Cades Cove you’re very likely to see one, or two, maybe even three. Attacks however are rare, and the ones that have occurred usually have to do with food left unattended. So, don’t leave food out at your campsite or store it in a tent. The Black Bears that call the national park home have a keen sense of smell and even the smell of toothpaste can lure them to a campsite. If you do see one in the campground, bang something together to create a loud noise, shout, wave your arms and act like you’re a loon…. Anything to try to scare them away. If nothing works, RUN to a building, into a car, whatever.
Upon your departure, please attempt to leave no trace of food or litter in the campground that will attract bears. No burying or burning of food either. If you bring something in to the Cades Cove Campground, you must pack it up and take it out when you leave.
On occassion, you may see photos of people interacting with park bears. Still, Smoky Mountain Black Bears are extremely unpredictable when it comes to their interactions with humans. It’s in your best interest not to try to interact with them or attempt to feed them.
Outside of the Cades Cove Campground, Russell and Spence fields provide shelters and there are 16 backcountry campgrounds as well throughout the Cades Cove trail network. To make reservations, call 865-436-1200.