Second camping adventure in the PopTaRT and the Cleghorn Camperz were looking forward to enjoying the cooler temperatures after such a hot summer in Atlanta. It was the last weekend in October and the forecast was shaping up nicely. Just the thoughts of a crackling campfire, wearing a hoodie, surrounded by the gorgeous display of fall leaves and sipping on some hot apple cider had us anxious to get our pop up camper on the road.
It would be our first time camping at Smokemont Campground, located in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, approximately 5-6 miles north of Cherokee, North Carolina. According to one website, Smokemont Campground is an outdoor lover’s dream. The Oconaluftee River and Bradley Fork come together within the campground area, creating an oasis for trout fishing. Another one of our favorite past-times.
This particular campground offers 142 campsites available and reservations are made online or by phone (see information below). Walk-ins are accepted on a first-come, first-served basis. However, I always recommend reservations when camping to ensure your spot. The campsites range in price from $17 to $20 per night. Some sections of the campground are closed during the winter months, so make sure to check the website prior to planning a trip. During these months reservations aren’t accepted.
Another thing that should be noted about this campground is that there was no electricity or water available on the sites, so you need to plan accordingly. They have bathroom facilities but no showers. We carried a generator, but most of the time we used propane lanterns for light. Thankful we were there with family who had bigger campers equipped with showers.
Pets are allowed as long as they are kept on a leash, so our camping pups “Dixie” and “Coco” joined us for the adventure. The rangers monitor the area very well and make sure everyone is following the rules (including the dogs). We were cautioned during our check in that we would be staying in a bear habitat and it was important that we keep all food items locked away in the cab of the truck. Not sure if bears are attracted to s’mores or caramel apple dumplings cooked over the fire, but we sure enjoyed them.
The temperatures were perfect for camping. The highs were in the upper 70’s and the lows were in the 40’s. I was worried about staying warm at night, not having electricity to run a heater, however we had enough blankets and a Mr. Heater portable heater that kept us very comfortable.
The mountains of Western North Carolina offer some of the most vibrant fall color displays anywhere. But did you know Cherokee makes the ideal location for leaf watchers? I did not know this, but after this trip, I’ll be sure to make my reservations for next year early so we can experience this phenomenal sight again.
During our stay we took a nice easy walk along the beautiful Oconaluftee River Trail. From the start of the trailhead we wandered along the river, enjoying being “unconnected” as there was no cellphone service for us at the campground and minimal connection in other areas surrounding the campground. The trail was one of the few hiking trails that allows pets, and the dogs were very happy about that. We began the trail across from the Museum of the Cherokee Indian right on the outskirts of town. It is an easy 1.5 miles before you arrive at the Mountain Farm Museum, which has some of the oldest cabins and log buildings in all of Cherokee. Watch closely and you may spot some wildlife; wild turkeys, ground hogs or elk, which we were lucky enough to spot all three.
If you enjoy horseback riding there is a stable at the entrance of the campground. I decided after my last little fall on our previous camping trip that I’d better not risk taking another fall on this trip, not to mention I’ve never been horseback riding before. The brochure claims Smokemont Riding Stables “offers some of the best horseback riding in North Carolina. You can enjoy short hourly rides, longer excursions to Cherokee’s waterfalls, or wagon rides through the Cherokee landscape. With well-seasoned and sure-footed horses, and knowledgeable and friendly guides, this is a Cherokee attraction you simply can’t miss”.
As for us, we mainly enjoyed our down time, where your hair can be a mess and your clothes can be comfy.
We were thankful to have a few of our family members with us on this adventure, allowing us time to spend together laughing and making great memories. Not sure where the next trip will take us, but the Cleghorn Camperz will be making plans soon so stay tuned.
Make sure to check all the rules and regulations before going to the campground. http://www.mysmokymountainvacation.com/policies.html