• Approximately 1,500 black bears live in the national park.

    Great Smoky Mountains

    National Park NC,TN

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  • Trail Advisory

    Several trails in the park are temporarily closed. Please check the "Backcountry Facilities" section of the Temporary Road and Facilities Closures page for further details. More »

Horse Camps


Quarantine Notice: The possession of firewood, whether hardwood or softwood, originating from a location for which a federal or state firewood quarantine is in effect is prohibited in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. This closure prohibits the movement of firewood into the park from counties adjacent to the park for which a federal or state quarantine is in place, even if the quarantine allows for movement within the county. Failure to comply may result in a citation or seizure of firewood. Please see the list of quarantined states and counties.

Firewood which is in its original packaging stamped with a USDA - APHIS - PPQ shield stating that the wood is certified under one or more sections of federal regulation 7 CFR 301 is allowed. Also firewood which is purchased from a park concessioner is allowed. Visit www.nature.org/firewoodmap for a map of local stores and businesses that sell certified firewood.

Click for additional information about this quarantine, including states affected.

Hitch racks are provided at horse camps
Reservations and permits are required for all overnight stays in the backcountry. To make reservations, please visit the backcountry reservation website.

Before planning your backcountry trip please read the trail closures and warnings page.

Five drive-in horse camps provide ready access to backcountry trails within the park.

Anthony Creek
Open April 1 - November 11, 2014
Thirty miles southeast of Maryville, TN on U. S. Highway 321. Take US 321 to Townsend, TN. Take Highway 73 to Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Follow signs for Cades Cove Campground. The horse camp is in the back of picnic area, through the gate to the Anthony Creek Trail.

Big Creek
Open April 11 - October 26, 2014
Sixteen miles east of Newport, TN on I-40. Exit I-40 at exit 451. Follow road past Walters Power Generating Station to 4-way intersection. Follow signs to Big Creek.

Open April 4 - October 31, 2014
Exit I-40 at exit 20, 25 miles west (north) of Asheville, NC (87 miles east of Knoxville, TN). Turn right onto Cove Creek Road 0.1 mile from I-40. Follow Cove Creek Road approximately 11 miles to Cataloochee horse camp.

Round Bottom
Open April 4 - October 31, 2014
Just north of Cherokee, NC turn off US 441 onto Big Cove Road. Go 0.2 mile to the stop sign and turn left. Go 8.8 miles to a "T" intersection. Turn right and go 0.9 mile to end of pavement. Take a gravel road (adjacent to trout rearing facility) 3.5 miles to horse camp.

Tow String
Open April 4 - October 31, 2014
Campground is located 4 miles north of Cherokee, NC off US 441. Turn right at sign for Tow String Road and horse camp.

Auto-access horse camps have picnic tables, fire rings, designated parking spaces (usually gravel), refuse containers and tent pads. 4 horse hitch racks are located at each site in Anthony Creek and Cataloochee; other camps have central hitch racks. Big Creek has flush toilets with cold water. Anthony Creek and Catalooche have vault toilets; Round Bottom and Tow String have portable toilets. There is no drinking water except at Big Creek. Water is available for horses, either in the campground or at a nearby stream.


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Big Creek
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Tow String
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All of the park’s horse camps are on a nationwide reservation service. Advance reservations are required and can be made by calling (877) 444-6777 between 10:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m. You may also make a reservation online. Additional information about advance reservations. Please write down your reservation number—you will need it when you register at the horse camp.

Fees are $20 per site, except for Big Creek, which is $25 per site. You must pay for the site when you make your reservation. Fees are not accepted at the horse camp. Payment can be made by credit card. Personal checks are accepted only if the reservation is made at least 20 days in advance.

Each campsite has a limit of six people and four horses. If you have more than six people or four horses, you will need to reserve another site. Sites vary in the number of vehicles that can be accommodated. Some allow only for one vehicle and trailer, others allow for two vehicles and two trailers (horse or camping). Please check the reservation website for details.

A cancellation fee will be charged if you cancel your reservation or if we cancel your reservation because you fail to show up. You will also be charged for one night’s camping fee if you cancel on or after the day your reservation begins or you fail to show up.

To make changes to your reservation or to cancel, please call 1-888-448-1474. If you are going to be arriving late (i.e. after noon of the second day), please phone 865-436-1230 to hold your reservation.

Horse Camp Rules and Regulations
• Horses must be kept in stalls and not at the campsite. Clean stalls out when leaving. Discard old and unwanted hay in designated areas.

• Keep horses out of campsites. Future campers will appreciate it.

• Tie horses only to hitching racks and stalls. Do not tie horses to trees.

• Stall spaces are limited. Bring only the number of horses for which you have reservations.

• Do not leave stock unattended.

• Never leave feed where wildlife can get to it—wildlife attracted to feed can come into conflict with people.

• All equine brought to or kept at any park horse camp or ridden on any park trail shall be accompanied by either the original or a copy of an official negative test for equine infectious anemia.

Please Observe the Following
• Avoid thawing or frozen trails—save them for dry times. Soil is easily damaged when it is soft. Stay on the trails. Do not use shortcuts. Walk or ride single-file down the center of trails. When crossing roads and paved areas, dismount and lead your horse.

• Pack out what you pack in. Littering is illegal. Leave a campsite cleaner than you found it.

• Know which trails are open to horses. Check the current Trail Map for up-to-date information.

• Keep horses away from springs. Carry and use a collapsible bucket to water your horse.

• Use processed feed to eliminate introducing weed seeds into the park—hay may contain seeds of non-native plants that can take over and destroy habitat for native species.

• Avoid disturbing wildlife by observing them from a distance. Bears are dangerous—do not feed them or other wildlife.

• Pets are not allowed on trails or in backcountry areas. Pets are only allowed in developed areas and must be on a leash at all times.

• Do not pick, dig or remove any plant, flower or natural object. This includes antlers and rocks. The same applies to cultural and historical artifacts, including arrowheads, pottery or pottery pieces and other household items. It is illegal to remove any of these items from the park.

Food Storage Regulations
All food and equipment used to prepare and store food (stoves, pots, coolers, etc.) must be kept sealed in a vehicle (preferably the trunk) or in a camping unit constructed of solid, non-pliable material or as otherwise directed at all times when not in use.

Dispose of garbage promptly in dumpsters provided. Unattended or improperly stored coolers and food may be impounded by campground staff and stored at the campground office. This regulation will be strictly enforced and violators are subject to fines.

Did You Know?

Visitors can often spot bears in trees at the edges of forests.

Approximately 1,500 black bears live in the park. This equals a population density of approximately two bears per square mile. Bears can be found throughout the park, but are easiest to spot in open areas such as Cades Cove and Cataloochee Valley. More...