The 10 Best Cherokee NC Campgrounds to Visit

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There are many fine Cherokee NC campgrounds that make a fantastic hub for exploring Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina.

The southern terminus of the Blue Ridge Parkway is at the national park’s entrance, just 3.5 miles north of Cherokee and the Qualla Boundary.

Other awesome attractions in GSMNP near Cherokee include marquee waterfalls like Soco Falls and Mingo Falls, Mingus Mill, the Mountain Farm Museum, and the Cataloochee Valley elk

The North Carolina mountain town is also home to the Oconaluftee Indian Village, Museum of the Cherokee Indian, Qualla Arts & Crafts Mutual, and the “Unto These Hills” historical drama.

There are a number of high-quality campgrounds in Cherokee NC, so visitors can make the most of the historic sites, natural wonders, and the national park attractions.

Options for camping in Cherokee NC can vary greatly, from campgrounds in Great Smoky Mountains National Park to privately-owned small businesses and old standbys like KOA.

Read on for our guide to the best campgrounds in Cherokee, North Carolina, including everything from fairly primitive camping options to campgrounds that feel more like resorts!

READ MORE: The 15 Best Cabins in Cherokee NC for Rent

Cherokee NC Campgrounds Guide

(Arranged geographically & alphabetically)

  1. Cherokee/Great Smokies Koa
  2. Happy Holiday Campground
  3. Indian Creek Campground
  4. Mile High Campground
  5. River Valley Campground
  6. Smokemont Campground
  7. Yogi in the Smokies
  8. Deep Creek Campground
  9. Ela Campground
  10. Flaming Arrow Campground

READ MORE: The 10 Best National Parks in North Carolina to Visit


Cherokee NC Campgrounds

Cherokee KOA
Photo courtesy of Cherokee KOA

1. Cherokee KOA

92 KOA Campground Road, Cherokee NC (828) 497-9711

Official Website

This KOA is the ideal family-oriented campground in Cherokee, with tons of amenities to make the stay fun and comfortable for all.

In addition to offering everything from full hook-up RV spots and tent sites to cabin rentals, this campground also has indoor and outdoor swimming pools, a jumping pad, and an outdoor movie screen.

It also features a playground for the kids, and hot tubs and saunas for the adults.

On the practical level, the Cherokee KOA has a laundry facility, dump station, and several bathroom blocks throughout the campground. Free Wi-Fi and cable TV are also available.

The KOA Cherokee campground is within walking distance of Mingo Falls, 6 miles from Downtown Cherokee, and about 5 miles from the Oconaluftee Visitor Center.

READ MORE: The 15 Best Things to Do in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

RV parks in Cherokee NC - Happy Holiday RV Camp
Photo courtesy of Happy Holiday RV Camp

2. Happy Holiday Campground

1553 Wolfetown Road, Cherokee NC • (828) 497-9204

Official Website

Proud to be steeped in Cherokee culture and history, the Happy Holiday Campground is located on 40 acres and surrounded by mountain streams.

This campground is set up for both RVs and tents, and it has a nice shower block/bathroom, coin-operated laundry facilities, and free WiFi service.

Extras at the campground include a swimming pool, a stocked fishing pond, a game room, golf cart rentals, and a shuttle service into the heart of Downtown Cherokee.

The Happy Holiday Campground provides easy access to Soco Falls, Harrah’s Casino, and Blackrock Mountain.

It’s about 4.5 miles from downtown Cherokee, and 8 miles to the visitor center.

READ MORE: The 20 Best Things to Do in Cherokee NC & the Qualla Boundary

camping in Cherokee NC - Indian Creek Campground
Photo of “Ellie” next to the creek, courtesy of Indian Creek Campground

3. Indian Creek Campground

1367 Bunches Creek Road, Cherokee NC • (828) 497-4361

Official Website

Bold enough to self-proclaim being one of the best campgrounds in Cherokee NC, the Indian Creek Campground does have a lot going on.

It accommodates both RV and tent camping, and there are cabins for rent.

There are lots of creekside campsites here, and the creeks are well-stocked with trout.

This version of Cherokee camping centers a little more around the natural wonder of the place. There’s no pool, but kids can play in the creek. Note that Wi-Fi access here is limited.

The Indian Creek Campground is also a bit further off the beaten track. It’s about 20 minutes from the Oconaluftee Visitor Center, and 20 minutes from Downtown Cherokee.

READ MORE: The 10 Best Waterfalls Near Cherokee NC to Visit

Campgrounds in Cherokee NC - Mile High Campground
Elk, photo courtesy of the Mile High Campground

4. Mile High Campground

346 Balsam Mountain Road, Cherokee NC • (828) 269-2945

Official Website

Mile High is a long-standing Cherokee campground, established about 25 years ago by a member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians.

True to the early days of camping, it has remained relatively primitive. There are hot showers and limited internet access, but their campsites do not have electricity or water hook-ups.

The amenities here are really focused on camping and communing with others. Wildlife, including elk, are  common at the campground as well.

Mile High is close to Maggie Valley NC (about 7 miles away) and Soco Falls. But Downtown Cherokee is just 15 miles away.

READ MORE: The Moon Eyed People & Other Cherokee Legends

river valley campground cherokee nc
Photo courtesy of River Valley Campground

5. River Valley Campground

2978 Big Cove Road, Cherokee NC (828) 497-3540

Facebook Page

A successful and beloved campground in Cherokee, River Valley Campground is a touch old-fashioned.

There isn’t even an official website for it, although there is a Facebook page.

While this isn’t one of the premier family RV parks in Cherokee NC, their campsites do have full hook-ups and a laundry facility. But Wi-Fi is sketchy here, as is cell service.

Camping at River Valley is pure and simple. There’s a nice creek by the campgrounds, plenty of trees, and few buildings. No playgrounds or pools. It’s all about getting away from it all!

The River Valley Campground is right beyond the national park’s boundary. It’s 5 miles from Downtown Cherokee, and Mingo Falls is just a couple of miles away.

READ MORE: The 13 Best Blue Ridge Parkway Campgrounds to Visit

Smokemont Campground- campgrounds near Cherokee NC
Smokemont Campground, photo by Emma Gallagher

6. Smokemont Campground

Smokemont Campground Road A, Cherokee NC • (828) 497-9270

Official Website

For Cherokee NC camping in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Smokemont Campground is one of our favorites.

It’s a massive property with flush toilets, drinking water, and wash-up sinks. There are sites with electricity for RVs and a dump station, but there are no showers. 

Smokemont is set around a beautiful creek, with trailheads right in the campground, including some amazing Smoky Mountain waterfall hikes and access to backcountry camping.

This campground is inside the national park. It’s 4 miles from Oconaluftee Visitor Center, 5 miles from the Blue Ridge Parkway, and 7 miles from Downtown Cherokee.

READ MORE: The 15 Best Great Smoky Mountains Campgrounds to Visit

yogi bear campground cherokee nc
Photo courtesy of Jellystone Cherokee

7. Yogi in the Smokies

317 Galamore Bridge, Cherokee NC (828) 497-9151

Official Website

The Yogi Bear Campground in Cherokee NC is known as the “Yogi in the Smokies” campground.

Along with KOA, it’s a familiar name among the myriad family campgrounds in Cherokee, North Carolina.

Yogi in the Smokies has full hook-up RV sites, rental cabins, and sites for primitive tent camping. There’s also a laundry room and plenty of restroom blocks throughout.

Special amenities here include a pool area, the Ravenfork River, and playgrounds. They also have a game room, craft center, camp store, and an outdoor theater, with planned activities daily.

Yogi’s campground in Cherokee NC is less than 10 miles from downtown, less than 9 miles from the Oconaluftee Visitor Center, and less than 2 miles from Mingo Falls.

READ MORE: The 20 Best Places to See Fall Foliage in the Smoky Mountains


Campgrounds Near Cherokee NC

Tom Branch Falls on the Deep Creek Trail in Bryson City NC
Tom Branch Falls, photo by Bret Love & Mary Gabbett

8. Deep Creek Campground

1912 East Deep Creek Road, Bryson City NC • (828) 488-3184

Official Website

Deep Creek Campground is an official Smoky Mountains National Park campground.

While it’s technically considered a Bryson City campground, it’s only 13 miles from Cherokee NC.

This is a great spot for camping because it offers immediate access to the Deep Creek trail to 3 waterfalls and awesome river tubing in the North Carolina mountains

Like Smokemont (and other GSMNP campgrounds), Deep Creek has flush toilets, drinking water, and wash-up sinks. But it doesn’t have showers, and all campsites are non-electric.

READ MORE: 20 Best Things to Do in Bryson City NC & Swain County

Campgrounds near Cherokee NC - Ela Campground
Photo courtesy of Ela Campground

9. Ela Campground

5100 Ela Road, Bryson City NC (828) 488-2410

Official Website

The Ela Campground is located in between Cherokee and Bryson City, about 5 miles away from each. It’s also on the boundary of the Nantahala National Forest.

This campground has a cool camping store, camping cabins, and year-round camping options.

All of their cabins have heating and AC, as well as a microwave and a small fridge.

Note that all visitors who stay in the rental cabins must bring their own linens, towels, and kitchenware.

Amenities at Ela Campground include a swimming pool, river access, a playground, and a basketball. The camp store has both camping and fishing supplies.

READ MORE: The 15 Best Cabin Rentals in Bryson City NC

camping near Cherokee NC - Flaming Arrow Campground
Photo courtesy of Flaming Arrow Campground

10. Flaming Arrow Campground

283 Flaming Arrow Drive, Whittier NC (828) 497-6901

Official Website

Though its address is in Whittier NC, the Flaming Arrow Campground is actually closer to downtown than many of the other Cherokee campgrounds (about 3 miles south).

This campground has a laundry facility, a nice bathroom block, a covered picnic pavilion, free cable TV, and free Wi-Fi.

It also has a swimming pool.

There are full hook-up sites here for big rigs, spots for pop-up campers, and tent camping. Each campsite has a fire ring. –by Jonathon Engels; featured photo by Bret Love & Mary Gabbett


Leave No Trace logo

We encourage anyone who loves the Blue Ridge region to learn about the Leave No Trace principles of responsible environmental stewardship. 

Stay on marked trails, take only pictures, pack out your trash, and be considerate of others who share the trails and parks you explore. 

Remember that waterfalls and rocky summits can be dangerous. Never try to climb waterfalls or get close to a ledge to get a selfie.

When you're exploring the wilderness, it's better to be safe than to be a statistic!

After visiting North Carolina for the first time, Senior Writer Jonathon Engels and wife Emma spent 2 years exploring Western NC in search of a homestead property. They first lived in Brevard, where Jonathon taught writing at Blue Ridge Community College and extensively explored the Blue Ridge Parkway and Pisgah National Forest. For the last several years they have lived just off the BRP near Elkin, Southwest Virginia, and the NC High Country. The couple also volunteers with the Surry Old Time Fiddlers Convention, the Elkin Valley Trail Association, and Reeves Downtown School of Music.