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Tennessee RV Parks: The RV parks in Tennessee You Want to Visit!

RV parks in Tennessee, on the western side of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, fill up earlier in the season than do those on the North Carolina side. The time was late April, and my wife and I found Tennessee RV parks near the foot of the mountains to be crammed with recreational vehicles while those on the North Carolina side of the hills, where the towns are higher in elevation than those in Tennessee, sit almost empty. On the Tennessee side the trees appeared fully leafed and the RV parks were cheek-to-jowl with recreational rigs, their owners sporting T-shirts and shorts and operating in full vacation mode. Across the hills in North Carolina, many trees were just beginning to bud, and the RV parks looked like the inside of a church sanctuary on opening weekend of fishing season.

Karen and I were here midway through a 30,000-mile adventure that we had started in the Pacific Northwest and undertaken in search of our country and of ourselves. The trip is recounted in my book, In Search of America’s Heartbeat: Twelve Months on the Road.

After a week of exploration from a base on the North Carolina side of the Great Smokies, at Waynesville, we moved our base camp for a week into Tennessee, setting up in Sevierville at:

River Plantation RV Park. This RV park provided gravel interior roads, 189 gravel sites with patios for travelers, all with full hookups, 57 of them pull-throughs, wireless Internet access, cable TV, laundry rooms, LP gas, two pools, camp store, arcade, recreation hall, conference center and banquet hall. Fishing is available nearby, and the Pigeon River runs alongside the RV park. The park is close to the national park, golf, outlet mall shopping, the Dollywood theme park, live entertainment.

We found the Tennessee side of the Smokies to be as raucous and brash as the North Carolina side was laid-back. Here’s an excerpt from my book that describes what it’s like to drive across the national park from North Carolina and emerge from it in Tennessee. The passage talks about crossing over 5,046-foot-high Newfound Gap, where Franklin Delano Roosevelt came in 1932 to dedicate the park:

“Millions of people pass through the gap each year. But there’s no sign of them yet, this early in the season. At the gap you cross from North Carolina into Tennessee, and the road starts to descend. It winds ever lower into Sugarland Valley, named for its numerous sugar maple trees.
“It’s 33 miles across the park by road. And then you come around a corner in Tennessee and -- bam! -- you’re in Gatlinburg. It’s like jumping into an icy lake. The shock of immersion, after so many miles of natural beauty, can take your breath away. Masses of people in T-shirts and shorts swarm streets that are lined with souvenir stands, arcades, hotels, motels and fast-food franchises. It’s almost unbelievable. I realize why I haven’t encountered crowds inside the park. It’s because they’re here in Gatlinburg.”
“Ahead of me, a big pink Cadillac rolls slowly down the town’s main drag. It’s license plate reads, ‘Sugar Daddy.’”

If you’re considering exploring any Tennessee RV Parks in this area, I hope you’ve found these observations to be helpful. If you know of any other RV parks in Tennessee that I should add to this list, e-mail me at

To read a great book about life on the road, including my travels through some of the great RV parks of the Southeast, grab your copy of In Search of America’s Heartbeat: Twelve Months on the Road.