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Old 01-03-2015, 01:15 PM   #1
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Smokey Mountains Elkmont Campground from Nashville area? Driving suggestions?

Well, we have just booked our first Smokey Mountain camping trip and will be heading out mid May 2015 to ElkMont Campgrounds in the Smokey's. It looks like a large campground but getting there driving options vary according to Google and other mapping programs.

So I figured I'd post this question up on the forum and hope that some of the folks here have made a similar trip from the Nashville area. Right now we will start to head East on I40 to Knoxville . We have in the past (In OUR CAR) traveled up the 40 to I believe it was 71, through Seversville, and Pigion Forge to Gatlinburg.. But looking at the map it may be quicker/easier to folow 40 to 116 to Marysville and then the 321 on in to the campground area.

I am pulling a 28' Jayco with a GMC 2500HD 6.0 gas which pulls the trailer great... this time I'll proably put some water in the trailer before we leave but we travel pretty light. I am a somewhat experianced driver.

I"d love to hear from folks that have made the trip to Elkmont and are familiar with either one or both of these approach... It looks like the road from 40 down to the 321 is a more direct route than going up to the Seversville/Pigeon Forge route but I"m nost sure of the roads.. We won't have to be in a hurry and can take our time either route.

Thanks in advance for any suggestions you can give us.
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Old 01-03-2015, 02:15 PM   #2
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I have used both of those routes, and really do not have a preference. However, if you are going at a popular time of year, the route through Marysville and Townsend will be faster. The traffic through Pigeon Forge can often be at a complete standstill.

JOEL
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Old 01-03-2015, 02:59 PM   #3
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Quote:
Well, we have just booked our first Smokey Mountain camping trip and will be heading out mid May 2015 to ElkMont Campgrounds in the Smokey's.
We were there (Elkmont) on June of 13'. Nice out of the way place.

As far as entering the park thru Maryville and getting in the park by way of Lyon Spring Road. I don't think with a 28' RV you can do that. To get onto the main northern park road (Little River Gorge rd.) it involves a sharp 90 turn onto a single lane bridge at the end of the Lyons Spring road. And traveling eastward from there the road (Little River Gorge Rd.) is very twisty. Many of the turns involve swinging your tow vehicle over the yellow line in order to keep the RV wheels on the pavement and not clipping rock or trees sticking out from the roadway shoulder, especially the right hand corners. Coming in from the east thru Gatlinburg and then heading westward to Elkmont the road is very good, wide with some easy hills. Its the same road as the Little River Gorge road, but east of Elkmont it is called Fighting Creek Gap road.

I really liked Elkmont. Kind of a old village (Elkmont) that the park service is going to save 12 -15 of the buildings. They offer a park tour once a week about the history which I found very interesting. Check out my pictures. Smoky Mtn June 2013 We had a river front site..

We spend 4-5 days here (Elkmont) , another 3 at a private CG in Gatlinburg and then 4 days at Smokemont on the Southern side of the Smoky's.

Once settled in do the Roaring Fork Auto Nature trail located behind Gatlinburg. Take a picnic lunch with you and look for all the small creeks and waterfalls you pass over. Be on the outlook for bears. Depending on the traffic on the one-way paved road it will be an hour or two. Avoid on the weekend.
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Old 01-03-2015, 03:40 PM   #4
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We live in the area and the drive in from Maryville in my opinion is much better. Pigeon Forge has grown so much in the past 2 years the traffic never seems to die down.

You will not hit the one lane bridge unless you come over from Wears Valley which would be out of your way anyway.

You go through Maryville then straight through Townsend. There is a nice IGA grocery store there if you need supplies. Then you go straight into the park on a slightly more curvey road but it's easily doable with just a few curves that are tight but the road is a nice wide 2 lane and the traffic is usually not going too fast. There is also a new Ace hardware store in Townsend that has a Propane station for RV's its off to the side and very easy to pull up to.

With all that being said I will say I've never pulled a 28 foot trailer in from the Townsend side, a 21 foot one once. Maybe some others who have can chime in. If you have any worries about coming in from either side I would suggest calling the Ranger station at the campground and ask them.
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Old 01-03-2015, 04:05 PM   #5
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Just found this on the National Park Website:

Restrictions on Large Vehicles
Trailers, RVs, and buses are prohibited on some secondary roads in the park, including Balsam Mountain Road, Greenbrier Road past the ranger station, Heintooga Ridge Road, Rich Mountain Road, Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail, and the road exiting the park at Metcalf Bottoms Picnic Area. Caution is also advised when traveling on Little River Road between the Townsend entrance to the park and Elkmont Campground, and on the road leading into Cataloochee Valley.

Here are two pictures of the bridge (one lane) and the 90 degree turn on the North side of the bridge at the area where Lyon Spring rd intersects at River Gorge road. Pic looking north and Pic looking south with 90 degree turn
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Old 01-03-2015, 04:08 PM   #6
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Thanks folks so far for the great information, fortunatly we will be heading in on a monday and leaving on a Friday. I may just go through Pigion Forge this time, even though the traffic is a bit more I think with our tow vehicle (Crew Cab 2500HD) and the trailer that is proably 30' - 31' to the back of the hitch and I"ll admit a bit new to trailing in tight spaces so I don't want to take any chances.... tip to end I'm 50' and I don't want to find myself in a jam.... perhaps with a few more miles behind me I would get a bit more brave... but I want to play it safe... I"ve got lots of time.

Thanks for the info on the stores in Marysville and Townsend, that may be a good day trip out of the park during the week...

I'm looking forward to exploring unfortunately our truck is "Not" a 4 wheel drive (big mistake on my part) but we do have the Ltd Slip.

This is our first time to the Smokey's to camp I want to make it a good experience :-) Were really looking forward to our first dry camp experience with the trailer!
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Old 01-03-2015, 04:15 PM   #7
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Last fall, I pulled my 27' 5er through Townsend to Elkmont and back with no difficulty at all.

If you do need groceries, I would stop at one of the larger supermarkets in Sieverville, rather than the IGA in Townsend.

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Old 01-03-2015, 08:07 PM   #8
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I would go through Gatlinburg. I saw a trailer about your size in the ditch around one of those tight turns near Maryville. The guy had a Ford Econoline-long wheelbase & about a 24-28 foot trailer with the right side wheels of the trailer in the ditch. He was getting a lot of help-but it did not look like fun. PS a free tram runs from Elkmont to town. No Electric at Elkmont- but a great environment. Tennessee is a great State- lots of great vistas.
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Old 01-03-2015, 08:23 PM   #9
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Some of my pictures from my 2012 Smoky's trip.

A little note here: Elkmont is the known for a 10 day period in early June for synchronous fireflies called Photonius Carolinus.

The only other place in the world this happens is in Asia. Below is a YouTube video.



Sychronous fireflies
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Old 01-10-2015, 02:59 PM   #10
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One advantage to going thru Gatlinburg, the dumpstation is across from the Sugarlands visitors center. This is also where the water fill is, 6.5 miles from the campground.
I have towed 28-30' 5'th wheels up from Townsend. But you are crossing the centerline with the truck or trailer quite a bit. Worth remembering if you drive that road, towing or not. If you meet a RV they likely are crossing center in lots of corners.
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Old 01-28-2015, 09:48 PM   #11
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We are going to a rally in Townsend, Big Meadow camp ground end of April. Mostly T@Bs, Airstreams, and my Lance TT 2285.
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