KNOXVILLE, Tenn (WATE) — From wildflowers to wildlife, spring is a great time to visit the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The season also marks many openings with the park. Below you can find out when frontcountry, group and horse campground open as well as when picnic areas and roads reopen.

Frontcountry camping

Frontcountry campgrounds are maintained at 10 locations in the park. Cades Cove and Smokemont Campgrounds are open year-round. All other campgrounds are open seasonally, usually from spring until late fall.

  • Elkmont: March 11 – November 27
  • April 15 – October 30
    • Big Creek
    • Cataloochee
    • Cosby
    • Deep Creek
  • Abrams Creek: April 29 – October 30
  • Balsam Mountain: May 13 – October 11
  • Look Rock TDB

To find out more about front country camping including how to reserve a spot, click here.

Group camping

There are seven group camp areas in the park. These are places where seven or more people can camp together.

  • Cades Cove: 3/11 – 10/30
  • 4/15 – 10/30
    • Big Creek
    • Cataloochee
    • Cosby
    • Deep Creek
  • Elkmont: 4/29 – 10/30
  • Smokemont: 5/13 – 10/30

To learn more about group camping, visit the Great Smoky Mountain National Park’s website.

Horse Camps

There are also several small campgrounds that offer hitch racks for horses and primitive camping facilities. These places are also accessible by vehicle. All but one of the campgrounds are open from April 15 to October 30.

  • Big Creek
  • Cataloochee
  • Round Bottom
  • Tow String

Anthony Creek opens on April 1 and will close on November 13. This horse camp is found at the back of the picnic area of the Cades Cove Campground, through the gate to the Anthony Creek Trail. To learn more about horse camping, click here.


For those who are visiting the park during the day and looking for somewhere to eat, there are picnic areas located throughout the park. Several locations also have pavilions that can be reserved. The picnic areas at Cades Cove, Deep Creek, Greenbrier, and Metcalf Bottoms remain open year-round. The remaining close during the winter and open as spring begins.

  • Big Creek: 4/15 – 10/31
  • Heintooga: 5/13 – 10/11
  • Look Rock: 4/29 – 10/31
  • Chimneys
    • Lower loop with vault toilet: April 1 – Nov 29
    • Lower and upper loops with flush toilets: April 15 to Oct 31
  • Collins Creek: 4/01- 10/31
  • Cosby: 4/15 – 10/31

At Twin Creeks, there is only a pavilion which is available by reservation. It opens on April 1 and closes on Oct. 31. To find out how to reserve a pavilion, visit


Many other popular locations, like Clingmans Dome, open in the spring. Below is a list of roads that open during the spring:

  • Heintooga Round Bottom: 5/13 – 11/01
  • Clingmans Dome: 4/01 – 11/30
  • Forge Creek Road: 3/04 – 12/31
  • Straight Fork Road: 4/01 – 11/01
  • Parsons Branch Road: CLOSED – Hazard Trees

Motor homes, buses, vans longer than 25 feet, and passenger vehicles towing trailers are prohibited on the following road:

  • Little Greenbrier Access Road: 4/08– 11/28
  • Rich Mtn Road: 4/08 – 11/13
  • Roaring Fork Mtn: 4/08 – 11/28
  • Heintooga Ridge Road (Balsam Mountain Road): 5/12 – 11/01

Vehicle-free access along the Cades Cove Loop Road will take place each Wednesday, from May 4th through September 28th. Otherwise, the road is open daily from sunrise until sunset, weather permitting. Also to be aware, there will be a series of closing along the Foothills Parkway for repaving through the spring and summer. To find the exact locations and dates, click here.