How to Plan an RV Trip to the Smoky Mountains

Looking for adventure all year round? Get ready to plan an RV trip to the Smoky Mountains! We’ve compiled some travel tips and recommended RV parks for you, so keep reading to craft your unforgettable trip.

When Should You Visit?

The best time of year to visit the Smoky Mountains is June through October.

This is also the busiest time. July and August are typically hot and humid, but October is a great time to see fall foliage.

Winter can also be a fun time to visit. Hiking the trails this time of year is surprisingly popular. And you’ll encounter much fewer crowds. 

You can also visit on one of the free national park admission days to save a little money.

How Many Days Do You Need in the Smokies?

Three to seven days is a classic amount of time to spend in the Smoky Mountains. You’ll get an overview of the landscape while engaging in activities and sightseeing. 

Staying more than a week can give you opportunities to explore deeper. Keep reading to discover the cities and activities we recommend for your RV trip to the Smoky Mountains. 

A colorful scene of trees and clouds in the Smoky Mountains, TN.

Top Destinations in the Smoky Mountains

To help you narrow down possible destinations in the Smoky Mountains, we’ve listed the top five. 

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Address: 107 Park Headquarters Rd, Gatlinburg, TN 37738

About: The Great Smoky Mountains National Park covers the border of Tennessee and North Carolina. Its landscape boasts forests, rivers, waterfalls, wildlife, wildflowers, and more. You can also access the Appalachian Trail in the park.

Where to Stay: The national park has several campgrounds in its vicinity. There are ten front-country campgrounds in the park. Backcountry, horse camping, and group camping options are also available. 

Clingmans Dome Observation Tower

Address: Forneys Creek, NC 28713

About: Clingmans Dome Observation Tower boasts 360-degree views from Clingman Dome’s summit. Clingmans Dome is the highest point in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. To get to the tower, you must walk up a steep half-mile path. It’s open year-round, but the road to it is usually closed December-April. 

Where to Stay: There are two campgrounds near Clingmans Dome. Deep Creek Campground and Elkmont Campground both offering RV and tent camping. There’s also backcountry camping in the area, which requires a permit.

Dollywood

Address: 2700 Dollywood Parks Blvd, Pigeon Forge, TN 37863

About: Dollywood is a theme park, water park, and resort that’s open year-round. It offers fun for any age and is a highlight in the Smoky Mountain region. 

Where to Stay: Pigeon Forge Jellystone Park is the closest campground to Dollywood. There’s also a KOA nearby and Pigeon Forge RV Resort. Dollywood offers a resort and cabins if you need some time out of your RV.

Ober Gatlinburg

Address: 1339 Ski Mountain Rd, Gatlinburg, TN 37738

About: Ober Gatlinburg is an amusement park and downhill ski area. You can visit year-round, hitting the slopes in the winter and enjoying the amusement park in the summer. Plus, you can take the aerial tram from Gatlinburg to the mountain.

Where to Stay: Two campgrounds located in Gatlinburg are Smoky Bear Campground & RV Park and Greenbrier Campground.

Cades Cove

Address: Cades Cove is near the Townsend, Tennessee, entrance to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

About: Cades Cove is a breathtaking valley on the Tennessee side of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. This is one of the best places to see wildlife in the park. You can drive the eleven-mile loop that goes around the Cove.

Where to Stay: The Cades Cove Campground is a great place to stay to immerse yourself in the nature of the Cove.

A very green image of a river, and a little riverhouse with spring water being pumped along a canal.

Where to Stay in the Smoky Mountains

As any seasoned outdoors person knows, An unfortunate campsite can ruin a fantastic vacation! We recommend the following three campgrounds for your RV trip to the Smoky Mountains.

Greenbrier Campground

Website: https://www.smokymountaincamping.com/

Address: 2353 East Pkwy, Gatlinburg, TN 37738

About: Greenbrier Campground is in the perfect location to visit Gatlinburg. It has full hookup pull-through and back-in RV sites. The campground has a beach with a swimming area, laundry facilities, golf cart rentals, and more. It’s also dog-friendly.

Pigeon Forge RV Resort

Website: https://www.pigeonforgerv.com/

Address: 1111 Wears Valley Rd, Pigeon Forge, TN 37863

About: Pigeon Forge RV Resort has full hookup RV sites, including some pull-throughs. The resort has a pool and a water slide. It’s dog and family-friendly. 

Smoky Bear Campground & RV Park

Website: https://www.smokybearcampground.com/

Address: 4857 East Parkway, Gatlinburg, TN 37738

About: Smoky Bear Campground & RV Park is a family-friendly campground in Gatlinburg. Sites are full hookup with cable and WiFi, including pull-through and back-in sites. The campground has a pool, hot tub, bathhouse, laundry facilities, and it’s dog friendly. 

Planning Your RV Route to the Smoky Mountains

Start your RV trip to the Smoky Mountains in Sevierville if you’re arriving via Knoxville. From Sevierville, we recommend spending a couple of days or more in Pigeon Forge.

Move on to Gatlinburg next. This can serve as a base for exploring the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  

If you’re arriving from the south, you can take U.S. 441 to the national park. 

What Cities Should You Visit?

It’s not just the mountains that will take your breath away. The cities surrounding them have so much to offer!

We recommend visiting the following three cities during your time in the Smoky Mountains, all of which are in Tennessee, southeast of Knoxville.

Gatlinburg

Located in Tennessee, Gatlinburg is a beautiful mountain town. It’s a gateway to the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. 

Gatlinburg has many shops and restaurants, and activities for the whole family, including an aquarium, a space needle, and the Hollywood Star Cars Museum. Plus, it features the Ober Gatlinburg amusement park and aerial tram.

Pigeon Forge

A mountain town in the foothills of the Smokies, Pigeon Forge is a mixture of history and modern-day fun. It’s the home of Dollywood and other country music-focused theaters and venues. Enjoy plenty of dining options and shops here amidst the entertainment and history.

Sevierville

Sevierville is a great base camp for hiking, white water rafting, or off-roading in the Smoky Mountains. It’s also Dolly Parton’s hometown, and you can visit an aviation museum, golf courses, and more. 

A very green river setting in the Smoky mountains and a man crosses the river with a large camping backpack on.

What Activities Do the Smoky Mountains Offer?

The Smoky Mountains offer a diverse range of activities for any age or skill level. From amusement parks and water parks to hiking and adventure sports. You can go hiking, whitewater rafting, horseback riding, mountain biking, and even skiing. 

We hope that if you take an RV trip to the Smoky Mountains, you’ll visit some of these places. It’s a great place to take a break from the daily grind and breathe in the fresh mountain air. When you’re done with the Smoky Mountains, head over to Nashville!

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