My family and I would like to go camping at Cades Cove in the Great Smokey Mountains. I have a few questions. Even though I am fully self contained - when would be the best time to go - not to hot/cold. I know with the elevation there - temps can change quickly. Also our camper is 36ft in length - is the campground big rig friendly ? Thanks for any input.
* This post was
edited 01/05/12 07:42pm by BARRY2010 *
We have(had) a 33' class A and there is no way I would have tried to get it into Cades Cove.
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You might want to camp at the park just at the entrance of the Smoky Natl Park on the Townsend TN entrance. It has lots of shade, access to the mtn stream, and has hooksup.
The mountain road inside the Natl Park would be scary to me with a longer trailer at the many loop back curves. The over-hang comes well into to the road going around some of the real sharp curves making you swing out into on-coming traffic coming from the other direction. The good thing is the park speed limit is low and people watch out for things like this.
I like camping at ELKMONT CAMP verses the one at Cades Cove but I am in an OFF-ROAD POPUP and dont have any problems getting it into any of the camp spots. ELKMONT is almost totally covered with lots of shade. Also ELKMONT has a Gatlinburg trolly bus pickup station. You can zoom in on both camp sites using GOOGLE MAPs and see the camp site layouts...
ELKMONT CAMP has generator hours established (8AM-10AM then again 4:30PM-7:30PM) as well as specific sites where generators are allowed. Not sure what the generator use rules are at the CADES COVE CAMP sites.
Staying in Townsend is great choice for visiting the Smoky Natl Park especially if you have a bigger trailer. The CADES COVE Nature trail is just a few miles from the Townsend entrance to the Natl Park.
When we camp inside the Natl Park we always go to Townsend for our groceries and supplies. Not so hetic in Townsend compared to the Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge areas.
Dump sites for both ELKMONT and CADES COVE was discussed on here a short time back and I think it was stated the only dump site was at the Gatlinburg side entrance to the Natl Park at the Community Center there. ELKMONT has several bath/water facilities scattered around their camp site. Neither ELKMONT or CADES COVE has electrical hookups but water is available at the Bath Facilities. I got pretty good TV at ELKMONT (three stations) using BATWING OTA antenna but ZERO on cellphones - have to drive back to a pull-out spot overlooking Gatlinburg to use your cellphones. Ham Radio is great as a local ham repeater is on one of those mountains there.
Being "self-contained" inside the Natl Park will require to run everything off your batteries and be able to re-charge them during the allowed generator run times (3-4 hours) then next day. You just cant run your generator anytime you want too. I don't get to run my air conditioner or high powered microwave when camping inside the Natl Park off my 255AH Battery Setup. I have seen a few folks carrying a battery and smart mode charger to the Bath Facility and re-charging them there for a couple of hours each day.
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Have taken the Grandkids there about 4 times. I like both Cades Cove and Elkmont. Elkmont is nice in the summer for fishing and tubing the river that runs right through the campground. It also has a number or old hunting cabins to explore just outside the campground. Cades Cove is nice at dusk to drive the loop and see animals. We saw a lot of deer and several coyotes and a black beer. During the day you can visit a number of old buildings, churches, mills etc. I have a 34ft Class A and did not find the campground too small. I would go during the week because the week ends are all reserved in the summer and fall.
I think the best time to go is May,Sept. and Oct. The kids are still in school and it isn't as crowded. July and August can be hot and very crowded. October can be cool, but we go every year so we can go to the Craftsman Fair in Oct. and sometimes the leaves are changing. You will probably need a sweater or light jacket. April is usually pretty nice, but can be cool also. I think the park looks very different in May than in October. Both have their own nice features.
Be sure to drive the Roaring Fork Drive and take a few of the hikes if you are able. We also always take our chairs and sit up at Newfoundland Gap for several hours just enjoying the scenery. Beautiful!
I agree--Elkmont is a better place for bigger rigs. We have a 30' fiver and had no problems--sites were great, spread out and shady--we were there in the heat of July. Ran our generator only toward evening to cool down for sleeping.
But---if you are interested in Cades Cove, I suggest one of the commercial campgrounds just a few miles from the Cades Cove entrance. Our favorite is the KOA-Townsend, but there are several others to choose from. KOA is shady and backs up to the Little River and the tubing shuttle buses will run you back to the KOA from your ride downstream. Riverfront sites are nice, but you need to reserve well in advance. I believe they are open all year round---our favorite season is the fall. But our kids love the tubing in the summer.
We have a 34'6" TT and we have taken it to both campgrounds, Cades Cove and Elkmont. During both of those trips, I have decided that the next time we want to go, we will stay in Pigeon Forge, Townsend or other off-site RV Park because I really, really need power and water!
You CAN get your RV into the sites, we had plenty of extra space and could have backed in another 6-8' at Elkmont and another 10' at Cades Cove.
If you have never heard of it, google "synchronized fireflies". It is the 2nd week of June and is a wonderful time to go there.