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Camping at Cherokee National Forest

Cherokee National Forest
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Location and Overview

Cherokee National Forest is located in the Eastern part of Tennessee, along the North Carolina border. Renowned for its diversity of plant and animal life, the forest stretches across 650,000 acres of terrain, with 150,000 acres set aside for wilderness. It is divided into northern and southern parts by the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Camping Opportunities

Dispersed Camping:

  • Dispersed camping is allowed in many areas of the forest for those who prefer a rustic and primitive experience. It's essential to follow Leave No Trace principles to protect the environment.

Developed Campgrounds:

  • The forest offers several developed campgrounds with amenities ranging from basic to full-hookup sites. These campgrounds often include restrooms, picnic tables, and fire rings.

Backcountry Camping:

  • For backcountry enthusiasts, the forest provides opportunities for remote camping. Permits may or may not be required, depending on the area, so it's best to check regulations beforehand.

Group Camping:

  • Many areas are available for group camping, offering larger sites suitable for families or organized groups.

Permits and Fees

Cherokee National Forest camping could require fees or permits, especially in developed campgrounds. Backcountry campers may need to obtain a permit for certain areas. It is critical to check the current rules and regulations before planning your trip.

Campfire Rules

  • Campfires may be allowed in designated fire rings or grills in developed campgrounds.
  • If dispersed camping, make sure that campfires are allowed in the area and always follow any fire restrictions.
  • Always extinguish campfires completely before leaving.


The forest is home to diverse wildlife, including bears, so campers must be aware of proper food storage and wildlife interaction guidelines to ensure both their safety and the protection of the animals.

Weather and Climate

The climate can vary significantly from lower to higher elevations. Summer temperatures can be warm, while winters are often cold with the possibility of snow, especially in the mountains. It's crucial to check current weather forecasts before your trip and prepare for changing conditions.

Hiking and Other Activities

Apart from camping, the Cherokee National Forest offers numerous recreational activities, including hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, fishing, and water activities. Notable trails and scenic areas enhance the experience for visitors.

Responsibility and Conservation

When camping in Cherokee National Forest, it's crucial to respect the land and practice good stewardship to preserve the natural beauty for future generations. This includes properly disposing of waste, respecting wildlife habitats, and being mindful of the impact on natural resources.

Connectivity and Emergencies

Cell phone reception can be unreliable in the forest, so ensure that you have a plan for emergencies. It’s wise to inform someone about your travel itinerary and expected return time.

Always check for the most recent information from the U.S. Forest Service or local ranger stations regarding closures, rules, and advisories before embarking on your camping trip to Cherokee National Forest.

Map of Campgrounds in Cherokee National Forest
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