The Townsend/Great Smokies KOA campground is located in
Townsend, Tennessee on the Southwestern edge of the Great Smoky
Mountains National Park. Townsend is nestled in a quiet little
valley within a reasonable drive from Maryville, Pigeon Forge,
Gatlinburg, Cades Cove, and many other attractions. There are
also some neat things to do right here in Townsend such as
tubing and horseback riding.
The campground is
very well maintained, although they are having problems getting
grass to grow in the shady high traffic areas (I'd just put Pea
Gravel in those areas including around the fire rings). The bath
houses are very clean although we don't use them (full hookup).
The playground is groomed and well mulched. It's just a nice
The Townsend KOA campground is also very child and pet friendly with
great activities, crafts, and games, an awesome playground,
pedal powered three wheelers, a very nice pool, an off-leash pet
play park, basketball, and a game room. Speed bumps keep
grown-up drivers in check, so you feel like the kids are pretty
and amenities include a deck, a fire ring/grill combo, and one
of the most beautiful rivers in the world. Just look at the
pictures. I have taken probably hundreds of pictures of the
river and the scenery in the background over the last few years.
All are different.
Expect to pay a
premium price for a site in-season. Even off season riverside
full hookup sites can be a little pricey. You could probably get
a room in Pigeon Forge for less, but who would want to do that.
Besides, there are six of us, a little tight for a Motel 8. I
have to add, for the sake of the KOA, camping fees are
used improve the campground and to hire a great staff that
meticulously maintain the park and host many great activities
and programs for the kids.
In summary, this is
one of our favorite places to camp, but we can't afford it very
very often. It's still the best all-around place we've found in
the area. We definitely recommend a stay in
We still love the KOA, but have stayed at a couple of other
places on our last two visits to the area. We stayed at Yogi
Bear's Jellystone about 16 miles east of Gatlinburg. It was
awesome too. We have also stayed at
Up The Creek near Pigeon Forge and, while they had no
children's activities, we loved the location.
Entry Date: October 2010
The Richardson Tribe has just returned
from our most recent adventure in the mountains of East
Tennessee. We camped at the Townsend/Great Smokies KOA on
Little River just outside the park for four nights.
While in the area, we visited Dollywood, Pigeon Forge,
Gatlinburg, and took a drive through the Great Smoky
Mountains National Park. Yes, I am afraid we did the
"tourist thing" on this trip, but we still enjoyed all the
KOA's camping activities.
We spent Saturday at the campground fishing, playing bingo
(the kids loved it!), making tie dye t-shirts and various
crafts, playing in Little River, and warming beside a toasty
fire. The folks at the KOA in Townsend really know how to
keep the kids happy, and the river and scenery keep everyone
As usual, the night sky was a light show. I actually
snapped a few time-lapsed shots (lower right) this time, and realized
there were many stars that I wasn't seeing with just the naked eye. We
come here in the Winter between Christmas and New Year, and the sky is
even more clear and brilliant at that time of year.
John's Soapbox Moment:
I will soon be writing a series of articles on camping, one of which
will focus on RV/camping etiquette. I will include our patio-side
neighbor's multiple offenses in detail. One of the few negatives of this
park is how narrow the riverside sites are. It's normal for riverside
sites, so I can't complain much. However, a courteous camper is careful
not to intrude on their neighbor, and to try to make the area on the
back-side of their camper as neat as possible (the back-side of one
camper is the front- side of someone else's). Our neighbor on this trip
had the front side of her old class-a motorhome decorated with lights
and FSU flags (and stickers, and pillows, and banners, and more lights,
etc.). Her back-side on the other hand was disgusting. She threw her
sewer hose, water hose, and poser cables on the ground wadded-up in a
mess. She stayed inside most of the time, except when laying out on the
deck sunbathing and coming around to shake her sewer hose and grunt. She
never said a single word to us in four days. I would move her sewer hose
away from our picnic table only to find it back, almost on my patio,
later. Unbelievable. I personally think other FSU fans need to hunt her
down. She's giving your university a bad name.
The Richardson Tribe
Spring break for the Tribe this year was spent in and
near the Smoky Mountain National Park (but mostly
Dollywood). This is the third time we've stayed at the KOA
in Townsend. We like it. The facilities are very clean (bath
houses are spotless, but we really don't use them). I was
initially disappointed in the site we ended-up with, but
that changed quickly. It turned out to be a great site that
was considerably wider than the other river-side sites.
The Townsend KOA is a little more
expensive than some of the others in the area, but river side sites have
a view of the cabins and mountains in the background. Some other
campgrounds have a fairly busy road across the river instead. KOA's key
benefits: full hookups, cable, Wi-Fi, and cozy little decks overlooking
the Little River.
Our first full day was initially going to
be spent at Dollywood, but rain brought a change of plans. We instead
went to the Tuckaleechee caverns. It was an affordable afternoon, free
from rain and cold wind, and perfect for kids. The cave is really quite
wonderful. At one time, the formations were a beautiful white, like
many southeastern limestone caves. Unfortunately, this cave once
completely flooded by water laden with red dirt and clay. Now everything
is stained a reddish brown. Still, the cave is huge, and the Tribe had
quite a good time. Afterward, we met-up with some friends for an early
supper at No-Way Jose's, the Pigeon Forge location. The food was pretty
good, but the atmosphere (and the chips) were a little stale compared to
the one in Gatlinburg.
Friday's weather was very nice, so off to
Dollywood we went. Spring was in full bloom at Dollywood, which made it
even more enjoyable. There was a pretty large crowd in the park, but it
was still a lot of fun. We rode lots of rides and ate some yummy treats.
The Richardson Tribe
Lodging and home base - KOA of
Townsend, Tennessee. The Tribe has stayed at the
KOA in Townsend once before, and we were pretty pleased
with most aspects of the campground. It's clean, they have
full hookup, the playground is above average, they have a
pool (not usable this time of year), and they have sites on
There are a few negatives such as an expensive laundry (our
cost, not counting detergent, was over $40.00 in quarters
for the machines), and narrow sites, something that is very
common for waterfront sites. In these scenarios, you
typically orient more to the rear of the camper than the
The key reasons we chose Townsend and the KOA is convenience
and the night sky. Riverside sites are furnished with little
decks facing north viewing the water, the side of a
mountain, and, with the leaves down, an almost pitch black
sky with stars so bright it's almost overwhelming. Traffic
and crowds, or the general lack thereof, is also a great
reason to stay in Townsend. From here, you can go into
Gatlinburg's South entrance through the park (avoiding
Pigeon Forge), about a 30 minute drive. If Pigeon Forge
(Dollywood) is the destination, then it's less than 30
minutes through Wears Valley. When it's time to head home,
there is no 1-2 hour bumper to bumper ride to the
Interstate. Because of the river (tubing, fishing) the Tribe
is enthusiastically looking forward to returning in much
While visiting the area, the Tribe had
quite a few adventures including two visits to
Dollywood. I didn't take the
cameras to Dollywood, so the pictures you see will be from my Blackberry
and the cameras on the rides. For more information on our Dollywood
visit, read *Lee
*Lee Thomas is our oldest son. He was 8 at the time he wrote the
The Richardson Tribe
This is our first time staying at the KOA in Townsend,
Tennessee. We had a site right on the river with a private
deck. The sites are narrow as are most waterfront campsites,
but there is full hookup, so we can stay as long as we like.
We selected the
Townsend/Great Smokies KOA on this trip because of something that
happened to us on our last camping trip to Gatlinburg. We visited the
area to attend a wedding on the weekend of the Fourth of July. We stayed
at a campground that was pretty-much on the road. Our very narrow site
was on the creek, but the highway kind of took from the camping
ambiance. When we left Gatlinburg campground around noon on Sunday,
we took our place in a 1.5 hour bumper to bumper parade to the
Interstate. A trip that typically takes us around 3.5 hours ended-up
taking almost six.
On this trip, we visited Gatlinburg and Ober Gatlinburg where we ice
skated and played in the game room. The Christmas lights are awesome
this time of year, and the kids saw a little snow.
The Richardson Tribe
Amicalola Falls State Park
Beaches of South Walton.
Cataloochee Ski Area
Cedar Creek Park
Charlestown State Park
Chattahoochee Bend State Park
Cherry Hill Park
Chester Frost Park
Choccolocco Mountain Off Road Park
Cloudmont Ski and Golf
Consolidated Gold Mine
Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort
Desoto State Park
Doll Mountain Campground
Enota Mountain Retreat
Etowah Indian Mounds
Fall Creek Falls State Park
Florala State Park
Franklin D Roosevelt State Park
Fort Mountain State Park
Georgia Mountain Fairground
Georgia Veterans State Park
Gold n Gem Grubbin'
James H Floyd State park
James Island Park
Jellystone Park- Cave City, KY
John Tanner Park
Lake Sidney Lanier
Little River Canyon Center
Live Oak Landing
Lula Lake Land Trust
Mammoth Cave National Park
Moto Mountain Powersports
New Echota - Cherokee Capitol
Noccalula Falls Park details and pictures
Old Stone Fort Archaeology State Park
Pine Moutain RV
Red Top Mountain State Park
Ridge Ferry Park
Rocky Mountain Recreation Area
Rock Town - Pigeon Mountain
Salt Springs Recreation Area
Stone Mountain Park
Tannehill State Park
Tellus Science Museum
The Southern Museum
Topsail Hill Preserve
Up The Creek RV Camp - Park Details - Pictures
US Space and Rocket Center - Details and Pictures
Vogel State Park
Wild Animal Safari
World of Coke
Zoo Atlanta - Details and Pictures
KOA has a very nice and simple interface. Most everything
you want to see is on their Homepage.
reservations is a breeze!
A variety of sites ranging from
large riverside tent sites to back-in (narrow as can be
expected) full hookup RV sites with decks, fire rings/grill
combos, level concrete pads (the ones we have stayed in).
The campground is meticulously maintained. The nicest KOA
I've seen. In season activities at the pavilion are awesome.
The river and cozy view are second to none.
The only negatives - premium price (varies by season), neighbor's sewer hookups
very close to patio and picnic table, and mulch around fire
rings is prone to ignite.
They have the
typical KOA Kabins/Cottages. I haven't looked in one, but
they seem small. We Kamp, I mean, we camp here.
It looks like a very nice pool.
Unfortunately, we have never stayed here when the pool was
The kids love this playground. Could be more variety.
The campground is not ideal for
bikes, but across the street is a bike trail that goes quite
a long way through and out the other end of Townsend. They
do rent strange little pedal powered three wheelers that can
be rented for use around the gravel inner roads of the
Little River is a pretty neat little tubing
spot. We have yet to rent tubes and ride down because we
tend to come in autumn, Winter, and early Spring when it's
still a little cold. Maybe next time.
Geocaching is available, but we didn't have a chance.
We have looked for rocks around the
campground and river, but have found mostly sandstone and
granite. There are commercial gem-grubbin' mines in Pigeon
Forge and Gatlinburg, even Dollywood. If you want to find
some really nice garnet, quartz, amethyst, rubies and
sapphires, buy an enriched bag of ore and have fun.
Townsend, Cades Cove,
Great Smoky Mountain Heritage Center, Elkmont,
Caverns, horseback riding, Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge,
Cherokee, and the list goes on...
*Note: We rate
only the amenities we have personally reviewed.
No financial consideration or favor has been received for
listing in PB&J Adventures' website. We are in no way
affiliated with this facility or any other facility we
review. Any paid advertising seen on this site was arranged
after the destination was reviewed. You can trust the
reviews to be unbiased.