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Camping In The Parks: Big Creek Campground At Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Midnight Hole on Big Creek - GRSM

Midnight Hole is a popular swimming hole. The camp host stands in the foundations from the old Crestmont Lumber Company.

If you're looking for a small, quiet campground in Great Smoky Mountains National Park without being too far from a main road, you can't do much better than Big Creek Campground.

With only 12 tent sites, Big Creek is the smallest campground in the park. RVs are not allowed. The campground is described as a walk-in campground because you park your car in a small parking lot and walk maybe 100 to 300 feet to your site. Some sites are on a small mound above, others are closer to the river. All are within shouting distance of Big Creek - #6 and #10 may be the closest to the water. No generator noises, no large RV dwarfing your tent, just the gurgle of the creek. Yet, you're only a few miles from I-40, on the North Carolina/Tennessee border.

Like all front-country campsites, each site has a tent pad, grill, a picnic table, and a pole for a lantern. A restroom with flush toilets and cold water sinks is located in the small parking area.

You should bring everything you need with you since the closest grocery store is in Newport, Tennessee, about a 30-minute drive from Big Creek. If you're reading older descriptions of the campground, you might be taken in by the accessibility of Mountain Mama, a legendary campstore, with supplies, good hamburgers, and modest lodging decorated in cigarette motif. But Mountain Mama has been closed for several years.

A large picnic area, with its own parking lot, separates the tent-only campground from the horse camp. Like many Smokies campgrounds, the Big Creek area was a lumber mill before the land became part of the national park. Crestmont Lumber Company was located near the trailhead parking. You can still see some of the foundations in the parking area for picnickers and day hikers. Later, the site was occupied by the Civilian Conservation Corp's Big Creek Camp. The young men built trails, bridges across Big Creek and the fire towers on Mt. Sterling and Mt. Cammerer.

Big Creek Trail follows an old railroad grade for over five miles to Walnut Bottom Campsite #37. For an easy hike, take Big Creek Trail for 1.4 miles to Midnight Hole. The water flows between two huge boulders and into a large pool. This swimming hole is a favorite of children of all ages. Another 0.6 mile brings you to Mouse Creek Falls, a 25-foot cascade located on the left as you go up. Look for a horse hitching rail as your signpost for the Falls.

The campground is first come, first serve and reservations are not accepted. Good luck.


Thanks so much for your insite we have a trip planed for latter this month an have had trouble finding info about this site. Did you see any Bear? Were others at the camp site?

My son and I stayed here last summer for 3 nights. We saw no bears, but there was a small rattlesnake on the trail above midnight hole. There are bear boxes, but not at your camp site... instead they are near the parking lots / toilets.

This is a great spot for tent camping.

Are there any showers or electrical outlets

I'm afraid not, Betsy.

How hard is it to get a site? Have people had trouble with it filling up early?

First come first serve. Difficult on weekends and Holidays. Get there early when people are leaving. Campers are mostly courteous and helpful.

What's early?  I don't mean to be obtuse, but I'm considering camping at Big Creek on Friday, June 3 of this year.  Do I need to be there at 8am, or am I good if I'm there by noon?


I realize that there are no guarantee's I just can't find anything with more than very vague advice.  Thanks.

Isn't this a group campground only now?

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