Looking for a great place to stop on your way to the sunbelt?

For many northern RV families, the annual migration to the sunbelt ranges from a mad dash from the snowbelt to the sunny beaches, or a hectic two or three-day driving adventure along the north-south interstates.

For many years, the RV Lifestyle Magazine Road Test Teams have suggested that RV’ers take a more leisurely route, planning stopovers to enjoy the many scenic and travel attractions – one of the best places to pause on your trip is the State of Tennesee – where it’s Springtime most of the year… 

Here’s a special Tennessee travel feature by Allison Lester

Top 5 RV Resorts on the “Peaceful Side of the Smokies”

Avoid the Crowds and Experience Life as It Used To Be in Townsend, Tennessee!

Plan your trip to the peaceful side of the Smokies…

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the most visited national park in the country. Boasting more than 800 miles of hiking trails, breathtaking views in any season, and opportunities for wildlife sightings including the 1,600 black bears that call the park home, it’s no wonder the park continues to break attendance records. There is something for everyone. For outdoor enthusiasts, there are hiking trails that range in difficulty to appease the beginner or the most avid hiker, biking and horseback riding trails, fly fishing any season of the year, wildflowers in the spring, stunning foliage in the fall, serene snow-capped mountains in the winter and river tubing in the summer. Enjoy farm to table, Appalachian-inspired cuisine and spirits, quaint local shopping and historical attractions for the history or nature buff in your life.

The park saw a record-breaking 14.2 million visitors in 2021. But there is a way to enjoy the park without traffic or unbearable crowds. Whether taking a family vacation, a girls or guys trip, a romantic getaway, or looking for a place to park and stay awhile, the Peaceful Side of the Smokies should be at the top of any RV enthusiast’s list. On the Townsend, TN side of the Smokies you’ll enjoy the truly tranquil, serene side of the park without the amusement parks and tourist attractions in other areas. Enter the park through historic famed Cades Cove, one of the most popular destinations in the Great Smokies. The 11-mile loop offers the best opportunities for wildlife viewing in the park.

Here are the top 5 RV spots on the Peaceful Side of the Smokies.

Little Arrow Campground

Little Arrow Outdoor Resort

This luxury camping resort has earned Tripadvisor® Traveler’s Choice awards and the 2021 USA Today Reader’s Choice Award for Best Glamping Resort. Tucked into the foothills of the Smokies, Little Arrow Outdoor Resort is surrounded by miles of serene wilderness, with fun amenities and luxurious accommodations.

The resort has new, deluxe pull-through RV motorcoach sites and also offers buddy sites with two full hookups. These new luxury RV sites are available right beside the Little River and include a private covered pavilion, firepit and outdoor sink with counter. If you stick around long enough, you may catch a glimpse of Bigfoot, the resort’s very own mascot.

  • 76 full hookup sites
  • Cost: Starting at $68 a night
  • Reservations available online
  • Site Allowance: Up to 90’
  • Glamping, air streams, tiny homes, and vacation cabins
  • Hookups: Water/Sewer/Electric (50 amp)
  • On-site amenities include new bathhouses, 24/7 coffee lounge, playroom, dog park, camp store, 24/7 laundry, zero-entry swimming pool, hot tub, hiking trails and river access.
Townsend KOA

Townsend/Great Smoky Mountains KOA

Townsend KOA

Conveniently located just outside the national park, this campground offers panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and lush forests. Nestled against the Little River, it’s the perfect setting for relaxing, putting your feet up and enjoying nature after a gruelling day of hiking, fishing, or exploring the local area.

KOA recently upgraded its RV sites with patios on the Little River. Offering full hookup, pull-through RV sites, KOA is the largest campground in the area and features patios and built-in fire pits.



  • Cost: starting at $55 per night
  • Reservations: Available online
  • Size Allowance: up to 60’
  • Tent Camping
  • Cabins
  • Hookups: Water/Sewer/Electric (30/50)
  • Dump Station
  • On-site amenities include a seasonal outdoor swimming pool, laundry room, snack bar, bike rentals, tube rentals, “Hey” wagon rides, outdoor movie cinema and a dog park.
Little River Campground

Little River Campground

This peaceful campground is located on the Little River making trout fishing, swimming, and tubing convenient. Little River Campground has undergone recent renovations adding a pool and glamping cabins as well as upgrading RV sites and bath houses.

  • Cost: starting at $65 per night
  • Reservations: available online
  • Size Allowance: up to 45’
  • Tent camping, cabins & glamping
  • Hookups: Water/Sewer/Electric (30/50)
  • On-site amenities include a general store, two bathhouses, a dish washing sink for tent campers, tube rentals, live music, arts and crafts, game room, hayrides, and a seasonal outdoor swimming pool.

Note: This is strictly a short-term rental campground.

Cades Cove Campground

Cades Cove Campground

For something more rustic, the most authentically Smokies place to park your RV on the Peaceful Side is the Cades Cove Campground. The site combines the feel of primitive camping with the modern convenience of flush toilets and drinking water. Though there are fewer amenities, and no hookups, you truly cannot beat this location. You can rent bikes or horses to make your journey around the 11-mile loop even more enjoyable.

  • Cost: starting at $25/night
  • Reservations: Available at Recreation.gov
  • Size Allowance: up to 42’
  • Tent camping
  • Dump station
  • On-site amenities include flush toilets, drinking water, general store, utility sinks, food lockers, campfire rings, BBQ grills and 5-amp hookups for medical equipment.

Note: only certain campsites are available year-round.


Big Meadow Campground

Big Meadow Campground

This award-winning campground was part of a large historic farm, situated on land with the Little River on one side and surrounded by the Smoky Mountains. The family-friendly campground was twice awarded the National Small Park of the Year by the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds.

This campground is RV-specific and has the most sites that can accommodate big rigs.

  • Cost: starting at $75/day
  • Reservations: available online
  • Size Allowance: up to 75’
  • Hookups: Water/Sewer/Electric (30/50)
  • On-site amenities include climate-controlled bathrooms and laundry room, lawn games, basketball court, dog park, splash pad, workout room, and 24-hour gated security.

For more information on camping the Peaceful Side of the Smokies, please visit SmokyMountains.org.

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