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Old 12-11-2008, 05:54 PM   #1
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Wilmington , Illinois
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Smoky Mountains, Tennessee

Airstreamers make the best travel agents!
Before I start planning our next family vacation I know I have to post on the forum for great advice, warnings, must sees, etc. etc. for our trip.

We will be traveling to the Smoky mountains in early spring - 4 adults and 5 children under the age of 9. We're looking for great places to camp (would love to see scenery outside our curved window while eating cereal in our PJ's), things to do, things to see.

Thanks in advance for all of the great advice I know we're going to get.

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Old 12-11-2008, 06:20 PM   #2
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We have friends who have recommended Twin Creek Campgound near Gatlinburg.
Twin Creek RV Resort | RV Camping Tennessee | Recreational Vehicle Camping Tennessee | Gatlinburg RV Camping | Smoky Mountains Recreational Vehicle Camping |

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Old 12-11-2008, 07:15 PM   #3
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On your way from Wilmington Illinois you might want to stop off at Springmill Park in southern Indiana. My wife and I went there a couple of years ago. Very pretty park and it was not very crowded. It has a very nice 50 meter swimming pool and there were not that many people camping. It would be a half way to the Smokey Mountains. Make sure you have a good tow vehicle going through those mountains.

I am very familiar with Wilmington. I grew up in Joliet. I used to swim in the strip mines and collect fossils in Coal city when I was a kid.

I visit the home state of Illinois to visit family and friends about once each year. Where is there a very good camp ground at a reasonable price around Joliet? I have checked out the Empress Casino's but is there any thing else. Looking for reasonable, showers, electric,water and a dump. My visits are usally for visiting I do not need a spectacular campground. Just a good place to stay.

Brian & Adrienne
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Old 12-11-2008, 07:52 PM   #4
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We always stay in Townsend TN while visiting the's known as the Peaceful side of the Smokies. It's 30 or so minutes away from Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, and about 7 miles from Cades Cove...that's a must see..beautiful scenery and lots of wildlife. The Ripley's Aquarium in Gatlinburg is worth a visit.......we've been to several Aquariums and this is the best one we've been to so far. Plenty of things to do and see in Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg. In Townsend, there's a paved bike trail that runs the entire length of the town. We always stay at Tremont Hills Campground, but on our visit Thanksgiving this year, we stayed at Ye Olde Mill Campground and it was very nice as well.
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Old 12-11-2008, 07:54 PM   #5
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Perfect Post

hotLAVA thanks for starting this family will also be taking a trip to the Smokies this spring...and I have the same please everyone, keep up the suggestions.
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Old 12-11-2008, 08:17 PM   #6

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Thumbs up Smok'n in the Smokies...

METOMETOMETO....only later in the Season.

Only one condition, must be Critter friendly

Could this be the start of a Rally?
AF #1

"Sticks & stones can break your bones...and hail will dent your Airstream"

So when is this..."old enough to know better" supposed to kick in?
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Old 12-12-2008, 01:29 AM   #7
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We stay at Caboughs campground in Pigeon Forge. We will be going in the Spring if we can get the Tradewind ready by then!!
Clabough's Campground - Pigeon Forge, Tennessee
John & Tammy Adams
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Old 12-12-2008, 06:10 AM   #8
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Thanks all for the great advice so far! I've been looking at the websites of the places so far and we'll probably try them all! We like to move.

Lothlorian, when you said "Make sure you have a good tow vehicle", I felt that fluttery nauseous feeling. I read your post to hubby, and the two of us are having second thoughts. If you haven't read my post "Camping Psychic needed," you wouldn't know of our trip to Florida experience towing our camper with our 1991 Oldsmobile Custom Cruiser. I'll sum it up for you - YIKES! In planning this trip, we have flipflopped on what to do: risk the ride with the old Dragin' Wagon, or stay in cabins/hotels. We love to camp, but, well, we don't want to do that again. And trading in the old wagon is not an option. But said Dragin' wagon is now set up with brand new engine (only 4,000 miles on it so far) , brand new transmission (under warranty) - but still an old vehicle. Probably stupid to take such an old vehicle out on a long trip......maybe we'll stay in cabins. I'll keep you all posted and feel free to offer advice.

Nice to see so many others will benefit from this thread! Maybe it will end up a rally - fun!
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Old 12-12-2008, 06:28 AM   #9
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Not stealing from your post, but the NC Vintage Campers had already put this into the works. I was planning on posting today and was glad to see that there is interest in going to the Smoky Mountains in the spring. It is one of my favorite areas.
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Old 12-12-2008, 06:33 AM   #10
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hotLAVA, Older tow vehicles when properly maintained still make wonderful tows for trailers. I am still using a 1979 model truck that has been in my family since 1982. It currently has 168K miles on it and is a faithful performer. I have driven it to Miami and to NYC in the past 2 years and would not be afraid to head anywhere in it. It cruises at 70 (no trailer in tow) for hours on the interstate.
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Old 12-12-2008, 07:43 AM   #11
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We love that area and have been camping there a number of times. This past summer we camped for a week at Elkmont Campground which is a Great Smoky Mountain National Park. It is about 10 minutes from Gatlinburg and offers a true mountain-feel camping experience with no traffic noise, big sites, lots of wildlife, lots of trees, and best of all we were right on the river - absolutely beautiful. One drawback that some care more about than others - no hookups. We spent the week right after that at Tremont Hills Resort in Townsend. It's a commercial campground with close together sites but we were right on the river. Lots of traffic noise (the riverfront sites) but a good location for going to Pigeon Forge (25 minutes) and Cades Cove (15 minutes). The campground is pricey (as all commercial ones around there are) but it has full hookups including cable TV. The price is somewhere in the $55 per night area for riverfront versus $24 at Elkmont. We enjoyed both campgrounds but would probably prefer Elkmont in the future.
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Old 12-12-2008, 09:00 AM   #12
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Tuckaleechee Campground is another nice campground located in Townsend, TN. Below is their web site link.

Tuckaleechee Campground Campground Web Site
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Old 12-12-2008, 09:06 AM   #13
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I grew up in Knoxville....sister lived in Pigeon Forge for many years. Have made countless trips to Gatlinburg/PF area.....most recent camping was in Sep '08.

Russ (Luckyducks) gave you some great advice on Elkmont....been staying there since I was a teenager and it hasn't changed much since then. It has some great things to offer: quiet, scenic, very cool in Summer (no need for A/C). However, you must be aware of the disadvantages: no hookups (bathrooms, but no showers), and a 20-30 minute (depending on traffic) drive to all the PF attractions that the kids want to see. There is a public dump station across the road from the Sugar Lands Visitor Center, but that is a rather challenging seven mile drive on River Road from Elkmont. The commercial campgrounds in Townsend are, for the most part, nice with all the amenities. Thier prices reflect that they are the only game in town.

You have many choices in Pigeon Forge, and it is an easy towing destination. However, many campgrounds are very tight, with small spaces. Our choice is Creekside......spotless air-conditioned bath house, full hookups, concrete pads, picnic tables, and fire ring. The roads are paved, with site driveways being packed gravel. The campground is conveniently located off Wears Valley Road. If you join Passport America ($40/yr), you can stay a maximum of three days for half-price ($20). I only had two complaints.....some sites are small and a bit difficult to back into, and the local high school football practice field is located across the creek.....gets a bit loud if you have a creekside site.

Many attactions to see/do in the area. Some of our favorites are:

- Cades Cove
- Hiking to Laurel Falls
- Breakfast at Old Mill in PF
- Steaks at The Peddler in Gatlinburg
- The Aquarium

Our least favorite......visiting at time when a major event is taking place, e.g. Hot Rod Shows, Fall Foliage, etc. (traffic can be a nightmare in PF, but here's a hint.....look at your mapping program for the backroad that parallels the Eastern side of the Parkway). Pigeon Forge publishes an online event calendar, and there is a trolley that you can use (it makes a stop inside Creekside).

If anyone has specific questions, please post. Please remember that those really are "wild" animals in the park.....some folks have paid the price of forgetting that.

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Old 12-12-2008, 10:01 AM   #14
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RE Elkmont: If generator noise bothers you (as it does me) be sure to stay in the no-gen zone. We made the mistake of choosing a site that allows gens, because it was a primo riverside site. Then some bozo shows up with a contractor generator and they watched tv all day and night.


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