Cades Cove Campgrounds (TN) Review

Solitude/privacy: 1
Environment & Nature: 5
Available Activities: 5
Staff & Park Officials: 4
Accessibility: 5

Cades Cove is

one of the 3 most popular campgrounds in The Great Smoky Mountains.  It contains roughly 159 platformed sites that are positioned pretty close to each other.  It’s great when a large group of friends camp out together and not so great when you are just their neighbor.. not a friend.


Platforms you say?

Yes-yes I say!  The cool things about platforms:  no worries about uneven, slope-like spots, tree roots, medium sized half submerged rocks, and other “awesome” nature things thrusting against your tent floor.  The not-so cool things about platforms: can’t fit more than one tent on it.  Let’s face it, very few of us travel with a 1 or 2-person tent to campgrounds.  We tend to schlep our 6, 8, or even 10-person tent with us and unfortunately only one large tent can fit on the platform.  The campground allows 2 tents per spot but because of the platforms, there is little room left for the second tent without being too close to the neighbor, eating area, your auto, or the fire.

You’ve set up your camp and

had the celebratory light beer (got to watch the weight and everything) with not so light burger… what’s next?   Since it’s the Smoky’s, time to burn those calories with hiking. The park offers many awesome trails to choose from.  Please keep in mind that even though pets are allowed on the campgrounds, they are NOT allowed on trails due to large population of bears and irresponsible dog owners.  The campground itself offers bike rental which is very popular.  Got Tennessee or North Carolina fishing license?  Go to the river and catch some diner!   The park also offers horse rental, horseback riding and trails, interpretive programs and trails, and many other things you can check out here.

So you’ve done all the activities

and it’s time to wash off all the sweat, dirt, and deer ticks.  Sorry friend, you are out of luck.  Although this is a pretty large and very popular campground, it still pretends to be hidden somewhere on the path of back country trails.  There are absolutely no showers in the campground!  I was told there are some paid* showers at Lazy Dayz… where ever that is.

Just like the North Rim Campgrounds in Arizona, do expect be positioned next to caravans and trailers. Do expect having a generator run most of the day and the fumes ruining the fresh air you came here for.  Do expect be awakened at 8AM by trucks collecting garbage and emptying sewage tanks.  Do expect pick up trucks with roaring engines passing by your tents at 5 mph throughout the entire day.  Don’t expect anything remotely healthy at the camp store.  Half the the food that is being sold there is either fried or food you are expected to cook at the campgrounds yourself (burgers, hot dogs, etc).  Coffee was OK!

Although alcohol is allowed at this campground, driving while drinking isn’t (just like everywhere!), so don’t do it.  The park officials are very keen on taking your license away and throwing your belly full of bud light in jail!

Check out our video review!

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