Camping in the Smokies: Destination Dollywood


Camping in the Smokies: Destination Dollywood

Pigeon Forge is our favorite vacation spot for many reasons, but the best thing about it is the short and easy distance from Knoxville. I love that we can take the family on a quick getaway. Ever since we started camping as a family tradition, we have moved past the idea of hotels and now we love to scope out camping spots wherever we go. Camping is more work, but it’s an exciting experience. It’s also usually cheaper than other accommodations, which allows us to spend our travel money on other fun things.

Like many Pigeon Forge travelers, our main interest was Dollywood. Our family could spend an entire day there! We made sure we had our season passes ready to go, and then as we planned our Pigeon Forge camping trip, we looked for a place in a good location because (let’s be honest here) Pigeon Forge traffic can get insane. We also looked at cleanliness, space, availability, amenities, and price.

Here are some great places to check out:

Of course, if you like the outdoorsy feel without the full-on camping, you could always rent one of Dollywood’s cabins. In my opinion, if you’re visiting Dollywood, Dollywood’s cabins are better than ones in surrounding areas because of all the extra perks (hello free preferred parking and timesavers!). Knoxville Moms and Chattanooga Moms held an executive team meeting in one of the cabins this year and the views were breathtaking! Learn more about the beauty and perks of Dollywood’s cabins in our previous post.

Camp LeConte also has different lodging options. From luxury tree houses to rustic tent sites, there’s something for every kind of camper. Camp Leconte is located in Gatlinburg, and they have a trolley service that will take you to Ripley’s Aquarium and a few other attractions in the area. It’s about a 25-minute drive to Dollywood.

Pigeon Forge KOA is another great option for families. KOA campgrounds are always trustworthy, excellent places to camp so you can’t go wrong here. This place is pet friendly, kid friendly, and has a ton of amenities. It’s located on Veterans Blvd., which a great location if you want to visit the area attractions.

River Plantation RV Resort is only a 13-minute drive to Dollywood. It’s located near the most delicious pancake cabin and has a ton of amenities. We are hoping to stay at this RV resort at our next visit; they even have a lazy river, a dog park, and a splash pad!

If your family is looking for something more rustic, head to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. They offer campsites that require hiking for miles (for backpackers), as well as a more standard tent campsite near bathhouses and picnic areas. Of course this campground is gorgeous, with lots of waterfalls, Smoky Mountain scenery, wildlife, and a ton of things for kids to do. Although it’s tucked away in beautiful Gatlinburg, this spot is only a 20-minute drive to area attractions including Dollywood! 

Ultimately, we decided on The Ridge Outdoor RV Resort. We chose this spot for a few reasons, but the biggest reason is that it was SO close to everything. Dollywood was 7 minutes in one direction, and Tanger Oaks mall 7 minutes in the other direction. We were really pleased with this place. It opened this summer and everything was pristine, from the bathhouses to the pool and even the campsite. We didn’t bring our dog, but we wish we had! They have a little dog park on site and they are very pet friendly.


The most relaxing thing about our trip was unwinding and having s’mores after a long day at a busy theme park. We really enjoyed the peace and quiet of a campsite at the end of the day. 

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Autumn Longmire
I live in La Follette, TN with my husband Luke and my sweet and spunky daughter Amelia (4). We're expecting a sweet little boy in October! We live on a quiet farm in a cozy house, and we love all our farm animals and plants. I'm a teacher working towards my MEd at Lincoln Memorial University, and my husband is in the army while also working full time doing real estate and auctioneering at our family business Longmire Realty. We enjoy staying involved at church, seeing movies, parenting, camping, traveling, and adventure. I am passionate about education and the beauty in seeing children learn and discover the world.


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