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Camping at Cades Cove Campground

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General Overview

Cades Cove Campground is one of the most popular campgrounds within the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site straddling the border between North Carolina and Tennessee. It provides a unique experience for campers due to its abundant wildlife, scenic views, and rich history.

Location and Access

Cades Cove Campground is located in Tennessee, about 27 miles from Maryville, TN, via Little River Gorge Road and Laurel Creek Road. The campground is accessible by car throughout the year, although road closures can happen due to weather conditions, mainly in winter months. Check for current road statuses before planning a trip.

Campsite Information

  • Booking: Reservations can be made online through the National Park Service's reservation system or by phone. Some sites may be available on a first-come, first-served basis, but reservations are strongly recommended, especially during peak season.
  • Campsites: There are around 159 campsites available for tents and RVs, though there are no electric, water, or sewer hook-ups at the sites.
  • RV Information: The maximum RV length is 35 feet; however, not all sites can accommodate an RV of this size, so check specifics while booking.
  • Amenities: The campground offers flush toilets, drinking water, a dump station for RVs, and a camp store with basic supplies and bike rentals.

Activities and Wildlife

  • Hiking: There are numerous trails accessible from the Cades Cove area, ranging from easy to strenuous, including the popular Cades Cove Nature Trail and access to the Appalachian Trail.
  • Wildlife Watching: The area is known for its wildlife, with opportunities to see white-tailed deer, black bears, coyotes, turkeys, and many other animals.
  • Biking: The Cades Cove Loop Road is a popular biking route offering excellent opportunities for wildlife viewing and access to historical sites.
  • Historical Sites: The loop road also takes visitors past numerous historical buildings, including log houses, churches, and a working gristmill, reflecting the 19th-century Appalachian community that once thrived here.

Seasonal Information and Restrictions

  • Open Season: Cades Cove Campground is open year-round, but services such as the camp store have limited operation outside the peak season.
  • Peak Season: Peak season typically runs from May through October. During this time, advanced reservations are essential due to the campground's popularity.
  • Bear Safety: Since the campground is in bear country, all food and scented items must be stored in bear-proof containers, and special regulations are in place to minimize bear-human interactions.
  • Fires: Fires are allowed in designated fire rings, but firewood must be heat-treated and bundled with a state or federal stamp or purchased from the camp store to prevent the spread of insect pests.
  • Pets: Pets are allowed but must be kept on a leash at all times and are not permitted on most trails.

Additional Tips

  • Connectivity: Cell phone reception can be spotty or nonexistent in the park, so plan accordingly.
  • Weather Preparedness: Be prepared for changing weather conditions, as the mountains can create unpredictable weather.
  • Leave No Trace: Remember to follow Leave No Trace principles to minimize your impact on the natural environment.

Before heading to Cades Cove Campground, it's advisable to check the latest information and any alerts or closures on the official website of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. This ensures you have the most up-to-date information for a safe and enjoyable camping experience.

Location of Cades Cove Campground
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