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“You Won't Find a Better Primitive Campground”
Review of Cosby Campground

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Cosby Campground
Ranked #3 of 14 Speciality Lodging in Cosby
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed 7 May 2012

Maybe I'm a bit biased, but I don't think you'll find a better primitive campground in the area. Cosby Campground is located inside the National Park. Anyone who thinks the sites are crowded or too close together apparently needs a whole acre field! My parents took me camping here as a child in the 60's and 70's, and I'm very excited to have been able to take my children back to the same sites over the last few years. Although it has been kept up and updated for safety, I'm glad to say it hasn't changed much. The sites are mostly level, VERY spacious with good separation between them for privacy, and generally clean. The rangers patrol several times daily. There is plenty of room for parking near or in your site for easy loading, unloading, and access to food that you must keep in your vehicles. Bears are common, but not a problem if you don't invite them in.
The campground itself offers clean bathrooms (cleaned daily) with cold running water in the sinks: no showers. There is no water or electricity on the sites, but there are water spickets every so many sites so you can carry buckets as needed. There is a dishwashing station at the bathrooms, but once again, it's only cold water. There are also water fountains throughout the campground, and large "bear-proof" dumpsters for your trash. There are great hiking trails starting from various spots inside the campground: some long, and some shorter. There are horse trails down the road just outside the campground. The fishing is good in the stream if you have a license; nice rainbow trout! The stream is also great for wading or climing around on the rocks.
There is a group campsite for large groups that is very nice for church groups, scouts, or whatever. There are also a few sites that are closer together for families or friends who want to camp together. RV's, campers, and tents are all welcomed, and you will find the perfect site for either. There are about 20 or less sites that are available by reservation, but all the rest are first come, first serve: you pick and then pay. And the price is great: just $14 a night. It's the perfect place to enjoy nature and just relax or spend time bonding with family. Excellent fire pits, nice, big concrete picnic tables, and large, level tent pads. There are even a few handicap accessible sites with special amenities!
If you are looking for things to do, take a drive on through Cosby to enjoy the scenery. The drive through Catalooch is long, but can be very nice. Within an hour's drive, you can visit Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, The Chimneys, Ober Gatlinburg, Cades Cove, or Clingman's Dome. There is plenty to do, both for the nature lover and the excitement seeker or shopper. Spend the day playing putt-putt, going to museums, shopping, zip-lining, skiing, ice-skating, riding go-carts, and more, then go back to Cosby Campground and sit around a campfire and relax before turning in. I can't think of a better vacation!

  • Stayed: October 2011, travelled with family
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16  Thank SmokiesCamperGirl
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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54 - 60 of 69 reviews

Reviewed 23 April 2012

Other campgrounds were full and packed in super close...we still had empty spaces right next door. Quiet, easily accessible trail heads, short hikes to overlooks, a waterfall, and a nature trail. As with other gsmnp campgrounds, no showers or trailer hookups. Nice facilities though. Well maintained. A toilet started running while we were there and it was fixed faster than would've happened at my house. Definitely wildlife in the area - some of it not too shy to come poking about your tent, particularly as theres a bit of space between sites.

  • Stayed: April 2012, travelled as a couple
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4  Thank Jamielee45
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 12 September 2011

I camped here over the labor day weekend. The camp groud is very clean and located near water streams. There are plenty of camp spaces and thus its a bit cluttered as compared to other campgrounds I have been to. There are quite a few goood trails starting from this campground and we went to two of them. This is one campground I heard has very high probablity of spotting a bear. On one of the trails while coming back a couple told us that they saw a bear and we should be careful while passing thru the rest of the trail. It was very exciting and a bit scary as well.

Thus you can expect an exciting experience. As for the facilities, restrooms are plenty and clean, camp spaces are nice.

Stayed: September 2011, travelled with friends
6  Thank Ankit_Mangal
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 7 September 2011

Just got back from a Labor day weekend stay. We got to the park around 6pm and when we stopped at the park visitor center in Gatlinburg we were told best luck in getting a site was Cosby and with traffic about 45 min drive. We were very glad she told us about Cosby. Very beautiful, and quiet, there were several sites still open.
We were surrounded by trees, decent size site, nice level platform, very clean restrooms. People were listening to the Tennessee football game, the only way we knew was when they scored the campground erupted in cheers.
Cosby is very well worth the low cost. You can even avoid Gatlinburg completely when arriving and leaving but if you want to explore the rest of the park you will have to go through Gatlinburg but once in the park very little traffic.

  • Stayed: September 2011
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3  Thank jwpalmer
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 18 June 2011

Just got back from staying at Cosby Campground, and whilst it is one of the better national park campgrounds I've stayed at, it's still far from perfect. The sites themselves are quite well laid out, with a good sized fire ring and grill, ample room for even a large tent, and a rugged picnic table, Each site has 1 parking space, and it's located directly in front of the site, which makes unloading and loading your vehicle extremely easy.

The one major problem with the majority of the sites is the lack of flat space, which limits where you can put a folding chair or table, and when you've got a few people in your group, not having enough space for chairs can become a real pain.

The layout of the camp itself is quite nice, and you're never more than 300ft from a restroom. The restrooms themselves are almost always immaculate, and it would appear they're cleaned every day. There aren't any showers, and the nearest shower facility is about a 4 mile drive, and will cost you about $5 per person.

There's a lot to do around the camp, many of the sites have trail heads not far from them, and no matter what your hiking experience is, there's bound to be a trail for you. Also about 2 miles from the camp, towards the town of Cosby, is a fair sized creek, with a pathway running alongside it.

The campsite is about 25 minutes from Gatlinburg, so if you want to spend some time in the resort town, but don't want to put up with the high priced hotels, Cosby Campground is just about perfect.

Room Tip: Arrive early, pick your site, then pay.
See more room tips
  • Stayed: June 2011, travelled with friends
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3  Thank JcbT11
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 10 June 2011

We stayed here over Columbus Day weekend last year. It was great in the sense that it was easy to get to off of I-40, and the area was very quiet. There are also several trailheads right at the campsite for day and extended hikes. One day we took a day hike and didn't have to get in the car at all that day. The fact that Gatlinburg, which is a shlocky tourist trap of a town, is 20 miles away is also a good thing. The problem is that since the campground is fairly remote, you need to drive a ways to get anything but the barest essentials.

There are no showers at the campground, but there are flush toilets and potable water. the big downside to the camp is that is can get quite crowded and loud. Made it tough to get to sleep. They really pack the sites pretty tight, so you feel like someone is camping on top of you. No real privacy at individual sites either.

Not a bad option though all things considered.

  • Stayed: October 2010, travelled on business
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Thank NPTourist
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 31 May 2011

We stayed for one night over Memorial Day weekend at the Cosby campground, and overall were very satisfied.

Pros: Nice campsites with separate tent & cooking/picnic areas for each site. (Tent sites were nicely leveled!). Good positioning of sites so that each site has some privacy. Solid ranger presence. Clean restrooms (cold water & flush toilets, no showers). Trailheads near the campground. You are about 20 miles away from Gatlinburg, so you get to avoid the craziness of that area and have a quiet entrance to the Park.

Cons: As others have noted, if you want to get to other sections/trails in the Park, you must either go through Gatlinburg or go down I-40 to the SE corner and backtrack in that way, so if you are staying here as your primary access to the Park you should take that into consideration. Also, the "town" of Cosby is pretty limited, do not expect much in the way of services other than a few mini-marts/gas stations. Other reviewers mentioned a place to take showers outside the park, that business appeared to be closed for good while we were there. Finally, obviously you expect to encounter bugs while camping, but we did find quite a few ticks at our site/tent/climbing on our car, etc. This wouldn't keep me away, but you might want to make sure to check you/kids/dogs/etc. while camping in the area.

  • Stayed: May 2011, travelled as a couple
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4  Thank DC_Runner78
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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Additional Information about Cosby Campground

Address: Great Smokey Mountain National Park, Hwy 321, Cosby, TN
Region: United States > Tennessee > Cosby
Hotel Style:
Ranked #3 of 14 Speciality Lodging in Cosby
Number of rooms: 157
Also Known As:
Cosby Campground Hotel Cosby
Cosby Campground Tennessee

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