Old-growth forests fill the mountainsides of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, a quiet respite on the Tennessee-North Carolina border. This most-visited national park is filled with wildlife, waterfalls and other scenic wonders. Travelers will find plenty of lodging options in the park and in the surrounding areas, whether they are looking for campgrounds or rustic cabins or hotels.
Lodging inside the park's borders consists primarily of campgrounds. Most allow both tent camping and parking of motorized vehicles such as RVs and smaller campers. Popular choices include Cades Cove, which is near a loop road that offers the best chance to view wildlife in the park; Elkmont, where children can play in the stream that flows through the campground; and Smokemont, the only major campground on the North Carolina side of the park.
Hundreds of cabins can be rented in the areas surrounding the park, particularly in the communities of Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg. Most cabins are built on the mountainsides, affording spectacular views from their decks. If you have a large group, this may be your most viable option, as cabins that sleep 10 or more people are widely available. Many come with such amenities as Jacuzzis and pool tables and provide full kitchens with a stove and refrigerator. Try services such as Gatlinburg Cabin Rentals and Hearthside Cabin Rentals.
Hotels and Motels
If a hotel or motel is more your speed, you will find no shortage of options in the mountains. Most major hotel and motel chains, as well as plenty of local mom-and-pop operations, offer accommodations just outside the park. Again, try Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge on the Tennessee side of the park. If you prefer a quieter setting (as these two towns offer plenty of attractions and draw hordes of tourists), look into Townsend on the western side of the park. The Cherokee Native American reservation just outside the park border in North Carolina offers plenty of places to stay as well as a Harrah's casino with hotel rooms. Hotels of the Smokies operates four hotels in several of these cities.
The National Park Service recommends you make camping reservations if traveling in the summer, as the major campgrounds frequently fill up. Campsites in the park do not include electrical or water hookups, so you will need to find shower facilities elsewhere. Inquire at the campground. Only LeConte Lodge provides indoor lodging inside the park's borders, but bring your hiking boots as it can be reached only by foot. This lodge offers small cabins with basic accommodations. Each has a front porch where you can relax and enjoy the view of the mountains.
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