Jacksonville to Great Smoky Mountains National Park Road Trip Guide


Start your fabulous family weekend road trip from Jacksonville, Florida, the largest city by area in the contiguous U.S. This hip, young city, was rated as one of Lonely Planet's “10 Best Value Destinations” ' for 2018 and is also listed as one of Expedia’s “21 Supercool U.S. Cities”. Families will find excellent kid-friendly activities here. Spend a day on Jacksonville's 22 miles of sandy beaches, wading in the ocean, building sandcastles, and strolling out on the Jacksonville Pier. Visit the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens and pet a stingray, spot baby gorillas and giraffes, and enjoy the beautiful facility and lush gardens, or discover fascinating historic sites and museums. Camp nearby at numerous state parks or the Osceola National Forest.

Your trip north to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park will take you from northern Florida though Georgia and South Carolina to the breathtaking park in North Carolina. This 469 mile road trip can be accomplished in a few days, so it is a perfect weekend getaway. Head north from Jacksonville on Interstate 95 to Interstate 26 then proceed northwest to Interstate 40 west. Take Interstate 40 to exit 1350 where you will head west on Route 276, then take the Cove Creek Road to the campgrounds and recreation areas in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Share this road trip guide


Max RV length
Max trailer Length
Road trip length: 2-3 days
Recommend rig: any
audience: family

Point of Interest


While Camping at the Dreher Island State Park, or as you pass through the City of Columbia, be sure to take in EdVenture, a hands-on art and science, fun-filled children's museum. This wonderful, award-winning children's museum is home to “Eddie”, who at 35000 pounds, and 40 feet tall, is the world's largest 10 year old! Kids can explore Eddie inside and out, climb up Eddie’s vertebra, or slide down his giant digestive tract.

The museum also features nine interactive workshops where your family members can try their hand at building, crafting, and creating. The Busy Bee Farm provides a farm to table dining experience, and there are fun cooking labs for the culinarily inclined. The landscaped grounds are abundant with butterflies, and visitors to Edventrue can also access the South Carolina State Museum and Columbia Canal and Riverfront Park at the same site without having to park twice.

The large parking lot can accommodate moderately sized RVs, but it gets busy, so you will need to get there early to secure a large enough spot, or leave your RV at a nearby campground. Spend a day at the kid's museum and riverfront on your way through Columbia for an unforgettable day of activity and discovery!

Dreher Island State Recreation Area

As you head through South Carolina, you will pass the City of Columbia. North of the city, head south on Columbia Avenue, and then take S. Peters Church Road to reach the Dreher Island State Recreation Area. This 348-acre state park encompasses three islands and has nearly 100 campsites appropriate for RV camping.

The islands are situated on Lake Murray which has 500 miles of shoreline on a 50 000 acre lake. Visitors can enjoy fishing, boating, and even scuba diving on the beautiful Lake Murray. There is no scuba diving or snorkeling equipment available at the park, so you will need to bring your own to do some underwater investigation. You can also hike and spot abundant wildlife in the park and along the lake shores.

There are two campgrounds here, Anglers Camp Circle and Islanders Camp Circle, with water and electric hookups for RVs, along with showers and restrooms, wifi, and an RV dump facility. RVers should note that the road into the park is narrow and winding, and there are strict speed limits that should be followed.

Savannah Historic District

While heading north on Interstate 95, you will pass by the historic city of Savannah, Georgia, which is known for its incredible historical district, and many sites in the city are reportedly haunted! Several tour companies will take you on informative tours, and make sure you see all the best sites!

Trolley tours are an excellent way to explore the historic district, contact Old Town Trolley Tours or Old Savannah Tours to book your Savannah historic experience. The historic district features fascinating architecture and interesting locations with fascinating stories. Trivia and tales, many of which are quite humorous, are shared by knowledgeable tour guides, dressed in historical garb, to complete the experience.

Looking for something a little spookier? Try Ghost City Tours which specializes in visits to the most “haunted” locations in the historic city and relating all the spooky details that are associated with these eerie sites.

The historic district is located in the heart of Old Savannah, and there may not be readily available parking for RVs. Unhook trailers or park large RVs at local recreation sites, and take alternate transportation to the historic district or arrange for shuttle services with the various tour companies from locations where you can more conveniently leave your RV.


Your destination, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, sits right on the border of North Carolina and Tennessee. This magnificent park is a great RVing destination with majestic mountains, wonderful waterfalls, and sparkling waterways. The park is very popular and receives more visitors annually than any other park in the US. Visitors can take scenic drives, hike the plethora of trails, scan spectacular vistas from lookout points, view beautiful wildflowers and abundant wildlife, or discover the remnants of pioneer settlements.

There are several campgrounds that accommodate RVs of about 30 to 35 feet in length to choose from for overnight camping. The Smokemont and Elkmont Campgrounds are open all year long and have 142 and 220 sites respectively. Campsites do not have hookups but there are many amenities at the campgrounds including restrooms with running water. Remaining campgrounds are open during the peak seasons only.

The Abrams Creek Campground has 16 sites for smaller RVs, the Cataloochee Campground accommodates RVs up to 31 feet in length with 27 sites, and Balsam Mountain Campground has 46 sites and accommodates 30 foot long units. Bears are an issue in the park and campers are advised that they should keep food items in bear-proof containers. Reservations are recommended at Great Smoky Mountain National Park campgrounds, due to the high number of visitors the park attracts.

Looking for an RV to camp here? Find RVs in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park area here. Families will enjoy the many activities and wonderful camping opportunities at Great Smoky Mountains National Park after their fun-filled trip from Jacksonville, Florida.

Share this Road trip guide