Elkmont Campground - Backpacking/Camping

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Elkmont Campground is the largest campground in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It's also the closest campground to Gatlinburg, Tennessee, and there are plenty of activities to be found here for you and the family.

Written by

Matt Guenther


0.1 miles


Destination Distance From Downtown

29.5 miles


3 of 5 diamonds

Time To Complete

1 days

One day to several days.


Spring, Summer, and Fall


Dog Friendly


Fees Permits


$17 - $23

Land Website

Elkmont Campground



Elkmont Campground is the largest campground in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It's also the closest campground to Gatlinburg, Tennessee. There is something magical here. Just driving in along the Little River is an incredible experience. Once inside the campground the history surrounding the abandoned homes of the antique Elkmont community provide a unique feature to an already gorgeous section of the park. Several excellent trails leave from the camp, so campers and short-term visitors alike can get out and enjoy the beauty of the Elkmont area. 

What Makes It Great

The beautiful Little River runs directly through the center of the campground, offering campers the option of camping next to the river. Generator use is prohibited in some sections of the campground, so please make sure that generator use is permitted at your chosen site if you wish to run a generator. The location of the Elkmont Campground along with the high quality trails that start here make this quite the spot. Sitting at a very central location, the campground is just over 20 miles from both Clingmans Dome and Cades Cove. This makes dividing the park into sections very easy to do, especially if you are attempting to see as much of the park as possible within a few days. For anyone looking to further explore the area, the “Cucumber Gap Loop” is a very popular hike that starts and finishes at the far end of the campground. With a trailhead down the Little River Road, the Little River Trail follows the crisp waters of the Little as it cascades downhill through sycamore, poplar, and rhododendron-filled forest. This trail is wide and flat, making it doable for anyone who wants to get out for a little stroll. After following this trail for just over 2.5 miles, the Cucumber Gap Trail intersects from the right and can be followed over the surrounding hills for another 2.5 miles. The final stretch of the loop starts with a right turn on the Jakes Creek Trail and the campground will be about a half mile down. This final bit takes hikers past most all of Elkmont’s famous abandoned houses. This hike is fantastic in the fall when the colors are at their peak, or in mid to late spring when the wildflowers are blooming. The Cucumber Gap section of trail bursts with color late March/early April. 

Who is Going to Love It

This campground is perfect for absolutely anyone- from entire families to lone backpackers looking for a front country night. The convenient location is everything you could want during your stay in the National Park.

Directions, Parking, & Regulations

Click here for directions to the Elkmont Campground.

The camp store offers limited supplies but virtually all amenities. There's even a medical clinic, which can be found in Gatlinburg, 8 miles away.There is a dump station across from Sugarlands Visitor Center. Elkmont Campground is open from March 8 through November 30, 2013. Campsites are available during the off-season on a first come, first served basis at reduced rates. 

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Elkmont Campground

Elkmont Campground 434 Elkmont Road
Gatlinburg, TN, 37738
35.660043, -83.584343

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