Travel

6 Great fall camping destinations in the Smoky Mountains

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There’s no better way to enjoy the change of season than to be outside camping. There are so many beautiful spots across the Great Smoky Mountains with rugged hiking, secluded campsites, and all the fishing one can enjoy. Here are a few of my faves:

1. Great Smoky Mountain National Park:

RichardBarrow / Shutterstock

RichardBarrow / Shutterstock

Over 800 miles in acreage, this park features some of the more beautiful views of the Great Smoky Mountains. Known for the expansive forests, black bears are also common to the area so be aware when hiking or camping the area! For an adventure that looks a little like the fictional planet of Endor be sure to catch the highest point in Tennessee atop Clingman’s dome for incredible views of the park.

 

2. DeSoto State Park

 Ben Keys, Jr. / Shutterstock

Ben Keys, Jr. / Shutterstock

Located in Fort Payne, AL and only a few miles from the Georgia border, this area is known for 104 ft DeSoto falls that lie within the bounds. DeSoto features amazing hikes and numerous primitive, backcountry camping sites for the adventurer in you.

3. Cooper Creek

Cooper Creek is one of the more remote offerings on this list. With the closet town being 13 miles northeast, the number of people will be lower and the light pollution less of an issue for those interested in star gazing. There are many primitive camping sites and great spots for fishing, so don’t be afraid to bring the fly rod.

4. Mills River – Pisgah National Forest

TheBigMK / Shutterstock

TheBigMK / Shutterstock

Not far from the Great Smoky Mountain National Park lies the fantastic city of Asheville, NC. Home to a wonderful music & beer scene, Asheville also lies close to the incredible Pisgah National Forest. The Mills River section is an incredible spot to camp because of the wide range of connecting trails and the ability, allowed by park rangers, to camp anywhere you wish, with the exception of being within 500 ft of a road. Following a long, refreshing weekend of camping make sure to stop by Pisgah Brewing on your way out of town for a tasty draft.

5. Daniel Boone National Forest

Anne Kitzman / Shutterstock

Anne Kitzman / Shutterstock

You can’t talk about camping and not make reference the legendary Daniel Boone. Located in Eastern, KY this 700,000 acre park is a great spot to traverse in fall. Three lakes (Cave Run, Laurel River, Cumberland) exist within the park as well as more secluded primitive sites for the true outdoor enthusiast. Don’t forget this destination!

6. Cherokee National Forest

 Jerry Whaley / Shutterstock

Jerry Whaley / Shutterstock

Last, but definitely not least, Cherokee National Forest is a must see, especially from Tennessee residents hoping to escape the city for a bit. Northeast of Johnson City, this park is home to three major primitive camping sections with a first come, first serve basis. Each is vastly different, but home to ample fishing spots & trails.

Now the path is unveiled, go out there and explore.

Aside from freelance writing, Chase spends most of his time traveling the country writing and performing music with his band Waker. He's an avid outdoorsman, loves IPAs, and a good pour over coffee.