Best compromise campground near Gatlinburg?


Dec 2, 2018
Yes, I'm sorry another Gatlinburg area thread. I've read through them all and I'm not sure I got a great answer for my situation, so thought I'd ask specifically.

I am thinking about planning a trip (5-7 days) in Gatlinburg next summer. What I'm hoping to find is the best compromise campground. If it were up to me I'd pull into Cosby or Elkmont, survive without electricity for the stay and never step foot outside of the national park. There is more than enough entertainment for me in the NP to keep me occupied for weeks.

Unfortunately my wife's idea of the Smokies is a trip around the scenic drive and to the visitor center in the NP, and then spend the rest of the week playing hillbilly golf, dollywood, Ripley's, etc. Basically she enjoys taking the kiddo to all the parts of the area that I think look like somebody took a giant dump on one of the most beautiful areas of the Eastern US.

So with that in mind the national park campgrounds are definitely out. She will never agree to a stay that long without electricity. Our PUP has a casette toilet that we don't use, no need for sewer hookups, water is fine but not a deal breaker either way. If the park had a shuttle stop to go into Gatlinburg that'd be a bonus. Things in the park for the kid to do are always a plus. But I still want something that feels like a campground; trees, river, at least a little space, etc. Close to the NP for hiking is a must.

Thus far I'm thinking the Greenbrier Campground might fit the bill for us, but I'm not sure if there are better options that might be better for what we're looking for?


Super Active Member
Jul 30, 2014
I’ve only camped at Elkmont, so I don’t have any firsthand experience with any of the private campgrounds, but I’ve been paying a lot of attention to others’ reviews for when we do get to try one.

As I was reading I thought Greenbriar sounds just like what you want. Another option I’ve heard great things about is the Townsend KOA. You could also look into Imagination Mountain (formerly the Gatlinburg Jellystone). The big downside to me for any of those 3 is that they are all pretty far outside of town. If you make frequent trips into town to hit all of the stops like we do the drive would get old.


Active Member
Oct 7, 2010
Knoxville, Tn
I agree with Greenbriar. Its much closer to Gatlinburg than Imagination Mountain. There is another one a little closer to Gatlinburg that has a trolley stop at the entrance to the campground. That might be worth it... parking is a pain in Gatlinburg. I live in Knoxville and we usually go out there once a month... but not in October/November. I learned my lesson..


Super Active Member
Aug 18, 2019
Deep South
Deep Creek, Balsam Mountain and Cataloochee. They are the furthermost from Gatlinberg so you wont be able to visit G as often. <GG>


Active Member
Sep 6, 2017
I have stayed at the pigeon forge koa which is nice and very close to the touresty stuff and the np. We split the trip and stayed at the towsend koa for the 2nd half. The towsend koa was very nice and much more in line with the quieter np type activities. Plus they have tubing right on the creek that runs through the campground


Super Active Member
Oct 10, 2018
S Ontario
We've stayed at the Townsend KOA long before it was a KOA. Located along the Little River it was great - neat campsites, clean bath house, and now as a KOA I'd expect it to be the same today. :)