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Camping in the Cherohala Skyway, Snowbird and Joyce Kilmer Area

Forest Rd. 81

Plenty of sites along the Santeehlah Creek. This area has signs that designate the areas that you may camp. Because this area is so popular, the Forest Service is trying to limit the impact from the heavy use. There  isn't any fee for camping in this area but sites have been known to be completely filled up on holiday weekends. All sites are either on or within a stones throw of Santeehlah Creek. this is a great place to swim, fish or just relax. My favorite.


At the entrance of the Cherohala Skyway on the North Carolinas side is the dirt Forest Road 81. Turn right just before the tri-board that marks the entrance. The paved State Road 1127 goes down the hill to Joyce Kilmer and the Horse Cove Campground.

Forest Rd. 81-F

This spur of Forest Road climbs to the higher elevations to Wolf Laurel.  From the comfort of your own vehicle you can witness the eco-system changes as you drive up the winding road. Waterfalls can be seen as well as dense hardwood forests that resemble the trees that you would find in Vermont. As you reach the highest point on the road, 4500 feet in elevation, there are numerous spots to pitch a tent. Just chose an area that suits your needs and pitch your tent.


This side road off of forest road 81 is easy to spot. Turn right on the steep spur road that forks to the right, just past the best sites along Santeehlah Creek. The road winds to the top which is also the parking area for the Stratton Bald Trail.

Indian Boundary Campground (Tn.)

This is a "fee for camping" area that is operated by the Cherokee National Forest Service. 100 beautiful sites and just off of the Skyway on the Tennessee side, this popular campsite is often full in the summer months. This is an excellent campground and located in the heart of some of the best hiking that Tennessee has to offer. Reservations are accepted and encouraged. 


On the Tennessee side of the skyway. Well signed, this newly developed campground is operated by the U.S. Forest Service. On the Tennessee side of the skyway the name changes to the Overhill Skyway and the route designation changes from 143 to 165. This is a great campground if you would like to explore the trails of the Citico Creek Wilderness and Tellico Plains.Call the Tellico Ranger Station for more information and reservations.           (865) 253-2520

Horse Cove Campground

This very popular "fee for camping" spot is also situated on Santeehlah Creek. The back of the campground also has some lovely sites that are creek side. Across from the Joyce Kilmer Memorial Loop, this campground is also full during the holidays.  A morning walk among the giant trees of the famous loop is the best amenity that this campground has to offer. There aren't any showers but swimming in the creek is allowed. May tubers make this their "base-camp". Recently renovated, this is a nice camp ground if you can get the right spot.    


On state road 1127, this older campground is directly across from the entrance of the Joyce Kilmer Memorial Loop. The Naked Ground Trailhead is also convenient to the campground. It is well marked and is operated by the U.S. Forest Service. Call ahead to confirm availability.  

Cheoah Ranger District
Route 1, Box 16A
Robbinsville, NC 28771
(On U.S. 129 north of Robbinsville)

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Cherohala Skyway Photos

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