We are not sure why, but we stopped coming to the Smokies once our children grew up and left the nest.
We were trying to come up with some summer camping destinations heading north when the conversation shifted to talking about returning to the Smoky Mountains. Staying away for 20 years was way too long.
The first decision was where should we stay? There are a couple of campgrounds in the National Park, but reservations are hard to get unless you book them a year in advance.
There is another potential problem with reserving a spot in the Smoky Mountain National Park. Your site is slightly elevated from backpack camping. The Park's campgrounds have no connections. None! Zip! Nada! Zilch! No sewer connections, no electrical service and no water means you are boondocking during your entire stay.
The ranger said the restrooms have running cold water in the sinks, but that's it. That translates into no showers while camping in the park.
We may try camping in the National Park one day down the road, but not on this trip. If you have been following our camping adventures, you know that we prefer public parks over private ones. But, there are times when the best choice for the moment is a private park and there are some very nice ones to choose from near the Smokies.
Our route to the Smokies was from the north, so we decided to camp on the Gatlinberg/Pigeon Forge side of the park. Again, there are many good RV campgrounds in that vicinity and we relied on the All Stays app and the RV Park Reviews Web site to pick Pine Mountain RV Park by the Creek in Pigeon Forge.
|Pine Mountain RV Park in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee|
This park is a couple of blocks off the main road in Pigeon Forge, which is far enough away so that you don't hear the noises from it nor are you bothered by the stop-and-go traffic on the strip. As the name implies, the park is next to a creek--sort of. It is very generous to label the flowing water behind our camper a creek as it appeared to be closer to an over sized ditch, but we will let that issue slide for the moment.
We were pleasantly surprised at how clean, manicured and well maintained this park was during our stay. For example, I alerted the front office around 8:30 one evening that a mound of fire ants suddenly appeared on our site close to Rosie's door. (Rosie is our 25 foot Airstream trailer.) A maintenance person was there about 10 minutes later and he took care of the problem.
|Rosie in the park|
There is a splash pool for children. Adults also enjoyed that pool. In addition, campers were allowed to use the swimming pools, hot tubs and exercise room at the hotel across the street.
The park itself is new. I would guess that it is five to ten years old and the trees haven't grown to the point to where they provide adequate shade. Make sure your air conditioner is ready to work long hours to keep your camper comfortable during the summer.
The restrooms and showers in this park may be the nicest and most up-to-date we have seen in a RV park. Similar to everything else, both were well-maintained and clean.
After being in the park for a few days, I determined that I may not be the best judge to determine if the flowing water running through the park rates the label "creek." The authority on the subject may be the duck and her five ducklings who swam in it then paraded along its banks everyday. Since ducks tend to avoid ditches, we will accept the park's classification of "creek."
Here are some specifics about this park:
This is an RV only park. You will not find tents here.
- Our site had 20, 30 and 50 amp electrical service.
- In addition to electric power, all sites have water and sewer connections.
- The park does not have a dump station.
- Each site has a concrete pad to park your RV on.
- The sites are close together, but most of the RV parks in Pigeon Forge and Gatlinberg tend to pack RVs in much tighter than here.
- There is a great kiddie splash pool with things squirting water that both children and adults will love.
- Campers have access to the indoor and outdoor pools, the hot tubs and a lazy river at the motel across the street. Campers can also use the motel's exercise room.
- This is a pet friendly park.
- AT&T provided reasonable 4G voice and data service over the park.
- The park provided Wi-Fi service. It worked best if you sat on the ground under their Wi-Fi access point. As you walked away from their wireless antenna, expect a huge drop in network usability.
- The park provided a basic tier of analog TV cable service. It included several ESPN channels, news and a handful of entertainment channels. We were able to get HD signals for all of the networks, except NBC, using Rosie's antenna. We were also able to see the following digital channels: MY-TV, CW, Escape, Grit and Bounce. We missed having ME-TV as one of our choices.
- There is a camp store in the park. It sells ice cream, candy bars, soft drinks, firewood, sewer hoses and ice. I thought there was a law requiring all camp stores to sell hotdogs.
- Everything in this park is well maintained. As expected, the rest rooms and showers were clean, modern and among the best we have ever seen in a campground.
- Trash pick up is mildly entertaining. You simply place your trash to the side of the road and it magically disappears, usually within the hour. There is a dumpster at the front of the park if you need to throw out something after hours.
One final point is that this park is at the gateway to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Don't spend too much time in this park or at the go kart track when you have the amazing Smokies next door. Go for a hike, wade in a mountain stream or watch a waterfall in the cool air of the national park. After all, the Airstream lifestyle is all about getting out and enjoying the wonders of God's creation. That is much better than being a consumer trapped by the bright lights of the shopping and entertainment district.
|Grotto Falls in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park|
|Wading in a mountain stream|
|Deer in Cades Cove|