We recently took a last-minute trip to Great Smoky Mountains National Park to enjoy some fall colors. We didn’t have reservations, so we decided to camp at Cosby Campground. It’s one of the least popular campgrounds in the park. In my book, that’s a good thing. Cosby is about 30 minutes east of the tourist mecca of Gatlinburg, so we didn’t have to deal with traffic or crowds. Here’s a map of the entire park >

Camping - Cosby Campground - Great Smoky Mountains National Park

It was dark when we arrived at the campground. We selected site B67. It is located in the back of loop B (Cosby Campground map). These sites are among the best in the campground. They are elevated from the road and surrounded by woods.  The entire campground is wooded, but there isn’t a lot of undergrowth, so the sites are only semi-private. Each site has a picnic table, a fire ring with a nice cooking grate and a flat, crushed gravel pad for your tent.

our-site-at-Cosby-2

We had just arrived and I was rolling out our sleeping pads in the tent when someone from a couple of sites over came over and told Billy that there was a bear nearby. She shined her flashlight into the woods and the bear was 20 feet from our tent – the tent that I was inside! I got out of the tent barefoot and walked quickly toward the car, not even bothering to zip the tent shut. Moments later the bear stuck his head inside our tent! He then circled around the tent and then slowly walked away. Our hearts still pounding, we drove over to the camp host’s trailer to let her know about the bear.

Our bear encounter was the talk of the town the following day. When we went to buy firewood, the shop owner exclaimed “that was you!?” We saw a couple more bears during our stay at Cosby, but we were careful not to leave food out so we didn’t run into any problems.

Cosby campground is very beautiful. It’s a clean and well maintained campground, including the bathrooms. The bathrooms don’t have soap, so don’t forget to bring some from home.

Camping - Cosby Campground - Great Smoky Mountains National Park

{us after five days, no showers}

There aren’t any showers at Cosby. I’m fine with not showering for five days, but if you are desperate for a shower, you can take one for $5 in the town of Cosby.

There are lots of hikes of varying difficulty that start at Cosby campground. We especially enjoyed the hike to Hen Wallow Falls and the self-guiding nature trail. Hiking and other things to do in the Cosby area >

Location: 471 Cosby Park Rd, Cosby, TN
Reservations: Only a handful of sites are reservable online. Most sites are first come, first serve. With the exception of holiday weekends, you should have no problem finding a site.
Camping fees: $14/night

Have you visited the Smoky Mountains? Where did you stay?

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