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 camping 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.

Deep Creek Campground
GPS:
35.6855865 - -83.5365765
CATEGORY:
National Parks

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 Deep Creek Campground, 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.

Check out our blogpost on camping and hiking Cloudland Canyon State Park, Georgia.

Deep Creek Campground: Great Smoky Mountains National Park

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 of Deep Creek 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.

Deep Creek Campground Things 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 Campground 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.

Deep Creek Campground Picnic Shelter Things 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)
Two teen walking up steep path to Juney Whank Falls in Deek Creek section of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, North Carolina
Two girls on the footbridge at Juney Whank Falls in Deek Creek section of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, North Carolina
Upper section of Juney Whank Falls from the footbridge in Deek Creek section of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, North Carolina
Trailhead signage to the Juney Whank Loop Trail in Deek Creek section of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, North Carolina
Trailhead signage for the Deep Creek Trail leading to Tom Branch Falls and Indian Creek Falls in Deek Creek section of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, North Carolina

Deep Creek Campground Waterfall Hikes

With an abundance of streams and rivers and over 85 inches of rainfall per year, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is home to numerous waterfalls.

Since we were on a tight schedule, we only did two of the three waterfalls in the Deep Creek Campground section - Juney Whank Falls and Tom Branch Falls, skipping Indian Creek Falls. If time allows, consider making the loop trail for a total of 2.5 miles and visit all three waterfalls for a perfect waterfall trifecta.  

Juney Whank Falls

Just a bit further past the picnic shelter, look for a parking lot on the left for access to the waterfall trailheads. We noticed that a good many of those parking had their fishing gear with them.

Starting with the Juney Whank Falls, we found the trailhead sign near the parking lot and noted that it was only 0.3 miles one way. The moderate path was fairly smooth, but steep.

A footbridge divides Juney Whank Falls into an upper and lower section, totaling a 90-foot drop. Grab a seat on the bench and take some time to relax and listen to the falls before making your return descent.

Tom Branch Falls

Cross another footbridge from the parking lot to the Deep Creek trailhead for a 0.2 mile hike to the Tom Branch Falls. A smooth, wide path with a gentle slope made this an easy walk in the woods. The Deep Creek trail follows Deep Creek and we noticed a number of fly fishermen in the waters. Again, watch out for poison ivy off the path.

Just another 0.5 mile from Tom Branch Falls gets you to Indian Creek Falls, but we still needed to pack our gear, visit the Fly Fishing Museum, have lunch, and drive to Georgia. It's tempting to try and do too much, leaving everyone exhausted and frustrated.

Deep Creek Campground Trails Things to Know

  • Wear sturdy shoes
  • Bring water and bug spray
  • No pets on the trails
  • No bikes on the Juney Whank trail
  • Bikes allowed on the Deep Creek trail that leads to the Tom Branch and Indian Creek waterfalls
  • Do not climb on the rocks around the riverbanks or waterfalls - read about water safety here.

Nearby Attractions to Deep Creek Campground: 

Deep Creek Lodge & Creekside Tubing, Bryson, City, NC

Although we didn't get a chance to go tubing (I had no idea that it would be so convenient), Deep Creek Lodge & Creekside Tubing is adjacent to the Deep Creek Campground park gate of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Also worth noting, Deep Creek Lodge has showers available at $3/person as well as a snack bar and ice.

Deep Creek Lodge & Creekside Tubing Things to Know

  • All day tube rental: $5-6/tube
  • Showers: $3/person

Fly Fishing Museum of the Southern Appalachians, Bryson City, NC

With the abundant trout streams in the Southern Appalachians and the fly fisherman on our hike, we wanted to stop at the Fly Fishing Museum of the Southern Appalachians and learn more about this aesthetically beautiful sport. We picked up the challenging scavenger hunt and explored the various exhibits such as: evolution of rods and reels, basic knots and fly tying, and types of gamefish. We also took time to read about the profiles of legendary men and women called "Stream Blazers" for their contributions to the fly fishing field and/or conservation issues. A favorite display was the fully equipped fly-tying desk.

Fly Fishing Museum of the Southern Appalachians Things to Know:

  • Admission: Free, but donations welcome
  • Summer Hours: April 1-July 31 & October Mon-Fri 9am to 5pm; Sat 11am-5pm
  • Winter Hours: November 1 - March 31 & September Mon-Fri 8am - 4pm

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Fly fishing display at the Fly Fishing Museum of the Southern Appalachians in Bryson City, North Carolina
Another fly fishing display at the Fly Fishing Museum of the Southern Appalachians in Bryson City, North Carolina
Elevation
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1800
Check-in/out
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12pm/12p
Cost/Night*
icon cost per night to camp
$21
Showers
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No
Restroom
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Flush
Max People / Vehicles
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6/2
Visitors Center
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No
Camp Hosts
icon for camp hosts
Yes
Best Site
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# Sites
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92
Open Year Round
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No
Laundry
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No
*Tent campsites only; accurate at time of publication
1912 East Deep Creek Road
Bryson City
NC
28713
Contact:
/
828-488-3184 OR 865-436-1261
Bear Country - must be kept sealed in a vehicle or food storage locker.
1881 West Deep Creek Rd
Bryson City
NC
28713
Summer Hours: 8am - 8pm
Spring/Fall Hours: 8am to dusk
Season: May through September - $5-6/tube for all day rental
Phone: 828-488-2587
Learn More
210 Main Street
Bryson City
NC
28713
Admission: Free, but donations welcome
Summer Hours: April 1-July 31 & October Mon-Fri 9am to 5pm; Sat 11am-5pm
Winter Hours: November 1 - March 31 & September Mon-Fri 8am - 4pm
Phone: 800.867.9246
Learn More
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