There is a beautiful campground at the entrance to Cades Cove and several backcountry sites accessible via the hiking trails. The largest campground by far is the one on the left as you enter the Cades Cove area. It has one hundred and fifty nine campsites some of which are wheelchair accessible. Sites handle trailers up to thirty five feet. Motor homes can be a little larger-forty feet. The sites have picnic tables, fire rings and lantern hangers and the Cades Cove Campground store.
Remember, there are no tame bears in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, even though those in Cades Cove see plenty of people. Despite this, attacks on people in the Smokies are relatively rare. Often the rare incident could have been avoided had the bears not been attracted by food to the victim in the first case. Do not store food in your tent. Do not store food in sleeping bags even briefly. The Smoky Mountain Black Bears have a keen sense of smell and even sweet smelling toiletries, toothpaste for instance, attracts them. If you see a bear while in the campground, try to discourage it from entering the camping area by banging pot together, shouting, waving your arms and generally trying to scare them away. Naturally, if this does not work, retreat to the safety of your car or camper and report the incident to GSMNP officials. As you are leaving the Cades Cove Campground, it is necessary to leave no trace of food or litter in the park which will attract bears. Do not bury or try to burn your food or food smelling litter. If you packed something into the Cades Cove Campground, you must pack it out when you leave.
Now some of you are probably thinking you have seen park bears interacting with Smokies visitors with no apparent harm, and you’d be right, that does happen sometimes. But despite their cuddly appearance the Smoky Mountain Black Bears are extremely unpredictable if accustomed to humans. The usual cause of bear injury is the bear wanted human food and decided to demand it or the bear was crowded by one or more humans. On very rare occasion bears have targeted humans as prey. There has only been one known human death due to bear aggression in all GSMNP history.
The campsite in the front of Cades Cove also has several other conveniences as well in the form of comfort stations with flush toilets and running water. There are no showers at the Cades Cove Campground.
Besides the Cades Cove Campground, there are also shelters at Russell and Spence fields as well as sixteen backcountry campground throughout the Cades Cove trail network. To make reservations, call 865-436-1297.