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RV camp in Great Smoky Mountain National Park’s shadow when you book an RV in Blount County, TN. Situated along the crook of Little River, Mountaineer Campground is a serene family-friendly campground. The rolling grassy space is dotted by tall oak trees that lend shade, a welcome relief on a hot summer day. With over 40 RV sites, campers can choose from riverfront sites, shaded sites, or open-space sites. All RV sites have either gravel or concrete pads and the option of full or partial hookups. Enjoy watching fishermen ply their trade from the decks that accompany the riverside sites.
Mountaineer Campground also includes bathrooms with hot showers, cable TV hookups, WiFi, and a laundry area. Well-behaved leashed pets are welcome, too. Half a mile from the northern entrance of Great Smoky Mountain National Park (GSMNP), accessing the park in an RV rental is a snap.
The closest town is Townsend, where the motto is “the perfect side of the mountains.” Townsend has several small quirky art galleries, boutique stores, and restaurants. However, for a larger variety of shopping as well as access to a medical facility with emergency health care services, the closest town is Maryville.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a major draw for many visitors to Tennessee and no wonder. With over half a million acres of wilderness for adventurers to explore, the opportunities for wonders to be discovered, and adventures to be had are endless. There are nearly a thousand miles of hiking trails, including the mighty Appalachian Trail, which cuts through GSMNP. The trails spider out from various nexuses, winding and weaving through dense old-growth woods. Some ascend to summits where hikers are rewarded with a vast, panoramic view of the rolling mountains and valleys. Other trails descend into low, hidden valleys that harbor wildlife in droves. Though there are a few dozen named waterfalls, there are hundreds, if not thousands, more fragile yet picturesque waterfalls that appear only after the spring snowmelt and just as quickly disappear.
Fly-fishing is one of the top activities in GSMNP. Fishermen often bring home trophy-sized catches. Native brook trout are especially robust, and brown and rainbow trout are common, too.
GSMNP is known to be the habitat of one of the most diverse wildlife on the eastern seaboard. GSMNP is a protected habitat for the shy black bear, which is especially robust in these mountains. Elsewhere along the east coast, this endearing bear approaches threatened status due to their dwindling habitat. Other mammals include the white-tailed deer, various species of bats, some of which are endangered, and several small-game critters. In the 21st century, National Park Services have reintroduced river otters, peregrine falcons, and elk, which were driven out of the area in the early 20th century, and more additions are planned in the coming decades. Nature lovers and wildlife photographers will have the best luck spotting these shy, untamed wildlife at dawn or dusk.
Don’t overlook the small mountain towns of Tennessee in favor of the mighty Great Smoky Mountain National Park. They too have their charms and interesting sights. The locals are warm and welcoming. Gatlinburg, the other northern entrance into GSMNP, has several museums and shops, including a museum devoted to the art and culture centered around salt and pepper shakers. It’s also the headquarters of one of the highest-regarded moonshine distilleries in the state, Ole Smokey Moonshine.
When you rent a motorhome, you can join the other travelers on the Foothills Parkway, a scenic byway that follows the contours of the GSMNP foothills. Serpentining for 72 miles, the byway connects Pigeon Forge to Chilhowee, TN, passing by many natural sights like waterfalls, rolling meadows, and picturesque woods.
Though Tennessee is famous for its moonshines, there are several small wineries that thrive in its rich, dark soil. Hop into an Airstream and search for a favorite varietal. Cades Cove Cellars is an award-winning wine producer that also makes fruit and berry wines. The tasting room is inside a rustic-looking mountain cabin that looks out on acres of rolling vineyard. Visitors can observe the bottling room while sampling the wines.
When wrapping up the memorable adventures and sightseeing travels, kick up your heels outside an RV rental and cast your eyes skyward. Far from the bright lights of cities, the sky is dark enough to reveal its secrets to a patient skywatcher. At certain times of the year, the Milky Way and various astronomical bodies are visible to the naked eye.