Does the Cades Cove Campground have electricity, showers or water?

The Cades Cove General Store

The Cades Cove Campground features a variety of amenities including a general store and bicycle rentals (photo by Morgan Overholt/

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For some people, a vacation getaway means a room with a nice, comfortable bed.

Possibly with a view of the mountains and a balcony overlooking a babbling brook.

Maybe a hot tub and a big fancy TV.

Others like to vacation in places where flushing toilets and drinking water are considered “modern” conveniences.

Does Cades Cove have a campground?

Yes, Cades Cove has a campground. And it’s one of the most popular and scenic camping areas in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

The campground features primitive camping with what traditional campers would consider modern amenities – more on that later.

The campground is open for tent camping and for RVs that are 40 feet long or less. It features 12 ADA family sites and one group site. And it also offers two CPAP sites.

The restrooms, with the flushing toilets, are ADA accessible with ADA accessible paths to the restrooms.

The Campground features more than 155 campsites – the second largest in the area second only to Elkmont Campground – on three loops; A, B or C. The B-loop is generator friendly.

The Campground is open year-round with stipulations.

Both Loop B and Loop C are open seasonally from mid-April through Thanksgiving weekend. During the off-season, C1-12 and C26-61 are available by reservation only.

Many sites are booked well in advance. Therefore, if you want to stay at the Cades Cove Campground, you’ll need to plan ahead.

The restroom at Cades Cove Campground
The Cades Cove restroom features indoor flush toilets (photo by Bill Burris/

Why is the Cades Cove Campground so popular?

Location, location, location.

The Cades Cove Campground is popular because it is close to Cades Cove and the 11-mile Cades Cove Loop Road, two of the most popular spots in the Smokies. You can stage an entire vacation around the Cove with hiking, horseback riding, bicycling and more.

And the mountain scenery in the Cove is bar-none.

Cades Cove also offers excellent wildlife viewing opportunities. Wildlife sightings commonly reported in the area include:

  • White-tailed deer
  • Black bears
  • Coyote
  • Groundhog
  • Turkey
  • Raccoon
  • Skunk

I can tell you from personal experience that some forms of wildlife are more abundant than others. Expect large numbers of deer, turkey and raccoons.

The Cove is also rich in history.

The Cherokee hunted in Cades Cove for hundreds of years.

And some of the relics from the earliest European settlers – who established homes and businesses in the Cove prior to the park’s existence in the early 1800s – like cabins and mills still remain today.

In fact, in the United States, some consider the Cove as housing one of the best collections of log cabins.

The on-site general store features snacks, supplies and souvenirs (photo by Bill Burris/

What else is there to do at the campground?

There are nine official recreational activities listed on although some are dubious.

Their list includes:

  • A day-use area
  • Wildlife viewing
  • A visitor center
  • Horseback riding
  • Hiking
  • Fishing (with an abundance of Trout)
  • Interpretive Programs
  • Camping
  • Historic and cultural sites

But should camping really be listed among the activities at a campground? Seems like stat-padding to me.

Read Also: Cades Cove cabins, churches and barns: 5 sites for your must-see list

Is there Wi-Fi or cell service?

Fair warning, there is no Wi-Fi at Cades Cove and your cell signal is probably not going to work.

For some that would be a positive, for others torture.

a picnic table
Picnic tables are abundant throughout the campground (photo by Bill Burris/

What amenities are available at the Cades Cove Campground?

Funny you should ask. The official website lists a variety of campground amenities some of which are more amenable than others. That list includes:

  1. Accessible sites
  2. Accessible flush toilets
  3. An amphitheater
  4. Accessible parking
  5. Campfire rings
  6. Drinking water
  7. A dump station
  8. An emergency phone
  9. A firewood vendor
  10. A general store
  11. Horse rentals
  12. Ice
  13. Picnic areas
  14. Picnic tables
  15. Tent pads
  16. Utility sinks
  17. Vending machines
  18. Fire pits
  19. Grills
  20. A quiet area
  21. Electric hookups
  22. Food lockers

The seasonal Cades Cove Campground Store is certainly an amenity, while the parking area seems more like a necessity than an amenity.

You’ve got historic buildings, fire rings, bike rentals, full-service grocery stores, a dump station and a nearby horse stable which is not related to the dump station but sounds like it could be. The horse stable usually offers hayrides and carriage rides between March and October.

And bear-proof dumpsters which also proved to be my cousin Danielle-proof on a recent trip to the nearby picnic area.

Bear-proof dumpsters may not sound like much of an amenity but when you’re tent camping it’s a big deal. You don’t want bears – or my cousin, Danielle, for that matter – rooting around the campsite at night looking for trash.

They also make a pretty big deal about the nearby amphitheater, which is, I guess, a nice amenity. Maybe on your camping vacation, you and a dozen or so fellow campers would like to do a little Summer Stock. And perhaps put on some Shakespeare in the National Park? I don’t know. But it’s one of the amenities. We’ve got to cover it.

The best day for biking is probably going to be during vehicle-free days on the Loop during the summertime – which usually falls on Wednesdays between May and September each year.

a view of the cades cove campgrounds
The Cades Cove Campground is open year-round but seasonal reservations may be required (photo by Bill Burris/

What are the best campsites at Cades Cove?

Ok. The amenities have convinced me. We’re going camping. What are the best campsites?

In truth, it depends a bit on what you’re looking for.

The B sites at the top of their respective loops – B19, B18, B20, B21, B67 and B70 are all relatively close to Abrams Creek which really gives them a leg up in desirability.

From a practical standpoint, sites like B79 and B06 and B08 are near restrooms, which can be a curse or a blessing. A curse, because you get more traffic passing your site and a blessing because if you’ve ever camped on a cold night, you know that trip to the bathroom can be brutal.

An electric hookup at Cades Cove
Cades Cove campsites can use generators. And some of the accessible sites have 5 amp electric hookups for medical equipment use (photo by Bill Burris/

Does the campground have electricity?

So, no wifi. No cell. But yes, Cades Cove campsites can use generators. And 5 amp electric hookups are available at some accessible sites for medical equipment use.

I find it strange that electricity is at the bottom of that aforementioned official list. I don’t know who the National Parks Service put in charge of marketing, but they have a tendency to bury the lede.

Read Also: What not to do at Cades Cove, 7 things a local wants you to know

Are pets allowed at the Cades Cove Campground?

Yes, pets are allowed in the campground but must remain on a 6′ leash and never be left unattended.

However, pets are prohibited on most nearby trails. The Gatlinburg Trail, The Oconaluftee River Trail and the Townsend Trail are among the few exceptions.

How much does it cost to camp at Cades Cove?

Ok. How much will this set me back?

The park service breaks down the campsites into three categories. They are as follows:

  • Standard Electric – $25
  • Standard Non-electric – $25
  • Tent only Non-electric – $25
RVs at the cades Cove campground
If you’re planning a stay at the Cades Cove Campground, remember to purchase supplies ahead of time. The nearest grocery stores and full-service gas stations are almost 11 miles away in Townsend, TN (photo by Bill Burris/

Is there anything else I should know?

Well, probably a lot of things.

We’ve written a lot of times about Cades Cove and its historic structures and hiking trails and grist mills and Abrams Falls and everything else on this site, maybe check those out.

Read Also: Cades Cove secrets: 5 best-hidden gems you shouldn’t miss

Finally, a last bit of advice.

If you’re going to plan a camping vacation to Cades Cove, you should probably plan for your vacation to be 85% camping or more.

But if you want a campsite where you can go enjoy other parts of the mountains and dine, shop or drive to Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg on the regular, etc., Cades Cove is probably not the spot.

It’s not convenient for anything else. It’s out of the way, tucked back in a secluded part of the park and not a quick drive to anything other than Townsend. And that’s not that quick. However, Townsend is certainly your best option if you need to refuel or shop for supplies as it features a couple of full service grocery stores and gas stations.

If you’re going to go camping in the Smokies to really camp, this is the spot for it. You get easy access to the scenic beauty of Cades Cove

If not, you’re better off doing something else.

Have you camped at the Cades Cove Campground? What did you think? Let us know in the comments!

Disclaimer: While we do our best to bring you the most up-to-date information, attractions or prices mentioned in this article may vary by season and are subject to change. Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any mentioned business, and have not been reviewed or endorsed these entities. Contact us at for questions or comments.

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2 thoughts on “Does the Cades Cove Campground have electricity, showers or water?”

  1. We Pendergrasses used to camp for a week during the week between Christmas and New Years. We were kids then and Mom and Dad brought us up well. I can Vouch for there being skunks at Cades Cove Campground because we’d set the skillet full of breakfast drippings up on the fire ring for them to come gorge themselves. AND we didn’t get “SKUNKED” even once. Another time I “Braved Up” and slept outside the tent on a Chaise Lounge chair. IT WAS SO DARK!!!! Every shadow turned into a bear. I don’t know how I ever got a wink of sleep that night. As y’all can see we lived a good youth.

  2. Absolutely wonderful campground!! No wi-fi doesn’t hurt my feelings one bit! No cell service, no problem. So peaceful every evening. We’ve camped in C many times, watched deer across the road in the woods. The loop is a must every single evening when we camp there! Ice cream is wonderful!! I just LOVE this place!!!

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