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Old 01-22-2013, 10:15 PM   #11
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If you are going to stay private and want a more off the beaten path campground, I have to agree with Mike. Townsend is very quiet. I have stayed at the KOA there before and the bathhouse is very nice. We live in the Smokies on the NC side and Townsend is my favorite place on the TN side. With that said there are lots of places to camp on the NC side of the Smokies with a ton of US Forest Service campgrounds some lake front on Lake Santeelah and Fontana. There are some nice private campgrounds too. Like I said, I prefer Forest Service and National Park venues, you dont get all the frills of private places or even full hook ups like a state park, but one often gets something most private places cant touch, natural settings. Anyway, Townsend is "one of the bombs" in camping the Smokies for sure and Mike's post is pretty spot on regarding Townsend.

I remember going there in the 70s when I was a kid Mike. They had the Townsend minimall where the IGA is today, and the KOA was some other campground and it was a Texaco. There was a couple other shack places there and around 1978 or so they built Naugger Knob craft place, my mom had to go there every vacation. Not much has changed in the 40 years I have been going there. Heck Pigeon Forge was a bunch of corn fields back then...
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Old 01-22-2013, 10:30 PM   #12
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Pine Mountian RV Park in Pigeon Forge is first class all the way. This is a new facility (about 5yr old) with paved sites and patios. Many of the sites back up to a small stream. The pool is great for kids with zero entry at one end. The hotel accross the street is owned by the same family and has an indoor pool and lazy river that you can access as a camper. The bath house is as clean as any I have experienced, even comparable to Wilderness campground at Disney. The campground is just over a small hill from the main strip at Piegon Forge and insulated from the noise and traffic. There is a trolly stop accross the street at the hotel. I highly reccomend this park.
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Old 01-22-2013, 10:32 PM   #13
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If you are going to stay private and want a more off the beaten path campground, I have to agree with Mike. Townsend is very quiet. I have stayed at the KOA there before and the bathhouse is very nice. We live in the Smokies on the NC side and Townsend is my favorite place on the TN side. With that said there are lots of places to camp on the NC side of the Smokies with a ton of US Forest Service campgrounds some lake front on Lake Santeelah and Fontana. There are some nice private campgrounds too. Like I said, I prefer Forest Service and National Park venues, you dont get all the frills of private places or even full hook ups like a state park, but one often gets something most private places cant touch, natural settings. Anyway, Townsend is "one of the bombs" in camping the Smokies for sure and Mike's post is pretty spot on regarding Townsend.

I remember going there in the 70s when I was a kid Mike. They had the Townsend minimall where the IGA is today, and the KOA was some other campground and it was a Texaco. There was a couple other shack places there and around 1978 or so they built Naugger Knob craft place, my mom had to go there every vacation. Not much has changed in the 40 years I have been going there. Heck Pigeon Forge was a bunch of corn fields back then...
We prefer State Parks and Corps of Engineers parks most of the time, too. I'm not set up really well for dry camping at this point, but would really like to try out the Elkmont Campground or Cades Cove Campground sometime.

I can remember going through Townsend as a kid myself with my grandparents and thinking, "why would anybody want to come here?" Now I think it offers the best "improved" camping in the Smokies.

OT, have you ever made the hike to Mt. Leconte and stayed in the Leconte Lodge? If not, you need to put that on your bucket list.
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Old 01-23-2013, 11:22 AM   #14
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...and the KOA was some other campground and it was a Texaco.
I would make mom stop at the Texaco every time we went by it to get a chili dog, they were fantastic.
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Old 01-24-2013, 06:34 AM   #15
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Thank you all for the suggestions....we have landed on River Plantation and my family looks forward to camping season.

Thanks again for the input!!!
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Old 01-24-2013, 12:06 PM   #16
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Thank you all for the suggestions....we have landed on River Plantation and my family looks forward to camping season.

Thanks again for the input!!!
One of my favorites around there. PM me if you need any info\pictures of it.
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Old 01-25-2013, 08:18 PM   #17
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Gatlinberg/PidgeonForge Campground

I would like to second River Plantation, we have stayed there many times and the kids have always had a wonderful time. The sites are level the staff friendly and you are close to everything.
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Old 01-27-2013, 03:39 PM   #18
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Mike,
I backpack in the park a few times a year and LeConte is nearly an annual destination for us. In fact I went up there and spent the night on January 2nd, 2013. I have never stayed at the lodge there just the back country shelter. I have been to LeConte now 2 dozen times. If I could only hike 1 trail in the park for the rest of my life, it would be Alum Cave to LeConte. That trail has it all rivers, stunning vistas, rock formations, beautiful forests, cliffs and more. The lodge is cool but I am cheap and the shelter works just fine. The lodge now offers lunch and I think even dinner for commoners who slum it in the shelter ;-).....
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Old 01-27-2013, 07:10 PM   #19
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Mike,
I backpack in the park a few times a year and LeConte is nearly an annual destination for us. In fact I went up there and spent the night on January 2nd, 2013. I have never stayed at the lodge there just the back country shelter. I have been to LeConte now 2 dozen times. If I could only hike 1 trail in the park for the rest of my life, it would be Alum Cave to LeConte. That trail has it all rivers, stunning vistas, rock formations, beautiful forests, cliffs and more. The lodge is cool but I am cheap and the shelter works just fine. The lodge now offers lunch and I think even dinner for commoners who slum it in the shelter ;-).....
I've only done it once, last April. We went up the Boulevard and then back down Alum Cave Bluffs. I have to agree that Alum Cave trail is an awesome trail. I was thinking to myself going down it that I was glad I didn't come up it, lol. Then I met a man that must have been 85 years old headed up. We've hiked several of the trails in the park, but I prefer those that are 2 hours and under. I'm glad I did the Leconte Lodge thing once, but it won't be an every year thing. It was over 400 bucks for four of us to stay one night, and we had to get on a waiting list at that! 400 bucks with no electricity and had to take a sponge bath! The views are incredible, though, and it was worth every penny for the memory.
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Old 01-27-2013, 09:04 PM   #20
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I have also backpacked LeConte and stayed at the shelter numerous times. It's been a few years though...I like to make it a weekend trip by also reserving a night at Icewater Springs shelter at the other end of The Boulevard. I heard the Park system was going to start charging for shelter reservations. I have hiked all of the trails to Le Conte. I like Alum Cave but it sometimes is very crowded and finding a decent parking spot is a challenge. It is longer (7.4m) but Trilllium Gap trail is less crowded after passing Grotto Falls. However, you may run into the Lamas as that is the trail they use to resupply at LeConte. Glad to hear they are now serving food to the "commoners"...it is one my favorite places...I feel a trip coming on!! If you have never tried it I also reccommed Charit Creek Lodge in The Big South Fork NRA. It is in Tennessee just south of the Ky border. It used to be run by the same group that runs LeConte and is under a new concessionaires contract. One mile from the trail head but still remote. They offer full service meals but also offer a hostel type package with lodging plus supplying a cook stove, pots, pans and plates/utensils if you pack in your own food. Cost for full service is $75 per night and $25 per night for Hostel accomodations.
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