Great Smoky Mountains National Park: Deep Creek Campground
Nestled in the crook of the far western reach of North Carolina, we stopped at Deep Creek Campground in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park as a convenient one-night stopover on the way to Cloudland Canyon State Park, Georgia. Even though we only stayed a day, believe us when we say that you could easily make Deep Creek your basecamp and cook up a complete Smoky Mountain holiday without ever having to go any further.
As an end of the school year celebration, the girls and I headed out on a tent camping road trip to the mountains. The last class finished at 12:15 pm, and we were on the road by 1 pm to reach the North Carolina side of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It was a brief stay, since Cloudland Canyon State Park was our first goal, but with a late start, we needed a stopover and a lovely stop it was.
Deep Creek Campground
Just three miles north of charming Bryson City, North Carolina, Deep Creek Campground has strictly first-come, first-served campsites except the three group sites which can be reserved online. Located on popular Deep Creek, this Great Smoky Mountains National Park campground is perfect for water recreation – tubing, fly fishing, and swimming – as well as access to three beautiful waterfalls: Juney Whank Falls, Tom Branch Falls, and Indian Creek Falls.
The week before the Memorial Day holiday, the tent-only walk-in Loop C campground was quiet and mostly empty. We noted the waterfront campsite we wanted, and then headed back to the registration kiosk to pay ($21/night). There are 42 walk-in campsites with an additional 50 campsites for RV/tent use.
The campsites in Loop C are grouped close together in a large area with numerous tulip poplars providing filtered shade. Don't expect privacy during the busy summer months. Also, watch out for poison ivy near the river's edge.
Interestingly, the current campground was originally a Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) Camp from 1933 to 1936, and you can see their handiwork in the stone masonry throughout the grounds even 80+ years later.
Need to Know:
- Reservations: $21/night. First come, first serve; open from early April through late October.
- Maximum RV length: 26 feet
- Facilities: No showers, but flush toilets; restrooms clean, but old
- Quiet hours: 10pm - 6am; no generators from 8pm to 8am.
- Bear country: Please follow food storage regulations here.
- Waste Water: Dish and bath water must be drained in toilets or at a dump station - not on the ground.
- Pets: Pets allowed in the campground on a leash, but not on the trails.
Deep Creek Picnic Shelter
Even though the evening sky looked clear, we put up our rain tarp. We woke to an early drizzle, but thankfully it wasn't enough to prevent making a cup of coffee. With the rumble of a distant thunderstorm and a rapid increase in the rainfall, we retreated to the tent. Fortunately, the shower passed quickly and we headed out for breakfast and our two waterfall hikes.
Since it was an easy homemade granola breakfast, we sought refuge from our soggy campsite picnic table at the nearby Deep Creek Picnic Shelter.
Need to Know:
- Reservations: $25/day; day use only; no overnight camping
- Facilities: Restrooms, 15 covered picnic tables (room for 70 people), charcoal grills (no wood fires)