One of the best investments we've ever made was the National Park Pass. For $80, you can enter any and all National Parks, Forests, sometimes monuments for either a discounted price or completely free. It has really saved us a ton of money in the long run as far as adventuring goes.
But, Vanessa and I were thrilled and surprised to find out last week that Great Smoky Mountain National Park doesn't charge entrance fees at all. It's freeeeeeeeeee. Which is a beautiful and glorious thing. The only downside to this incredible park being free, is that it gets busy. So busy that on our first afternoon up to Cades Cove Campground, we found out that the entire, ENTIRE park was booked. Turns out there's a group of people dubbed "Leaf Peepers" who travel from all over to watch the leaves change. Since it's definitely leaf changin' time in the Smokies, we were without a campsite for the night. But that did not hinder our RV camping in the Smoky Mountains agenda. No ma'am. It was solitude or bust.
Thanks to the Park Ranger who tipped us off to Cosby Campground on the other side of the park we were able to nestle in for a 4 day, 3 night stay in the mountains. It was an extremely quiet park, no hook-ups, with ample space between sites. There are about ten RV sites so reserving is definitely what you want to do. But we showed up on a Tuesday and were able to find a spot right away.
What we loved about Cosby Campground, is that besides the low, low price of $14 a night, you also have access to about 8-10 different trailheads. Vanessa and I chose two trails during our stay, the first was the Mount Cammerer trail, and the second was the Hen Wallow Falls Trail.
Mount Cammerer Trail was insanely beautiful and insanely difficult. I'm not going to lie, it's a 2900-ft ascent, and you're legs may or may not be in agony. But the feeling you get once you reach the top, and cross over part of the Appalachian Trail is worth the entire trip.
Hen Wallow Falls was on the following day, and this was much less strenuous of a hike. Clocking in at about 5 miles roundtrip, what breaks up this hike is a stunning waterfall at the end of the trail. You can bring a picnic, snap some photos, or just sit and enjoy the flowing falls. Besides a few climbs, and an annoying bee sting, we made this hike in under 3 hours.
We needed this time away to disconnect from everyday RV living and reconnect with nature. There wasn't any service, so you may as well tuck your phones away while you're there. We had campfires every morning, read four books in total, and relaxed in the hammock as much as we could. We also spent a lot of time with our animals. It's nice every once in a while to be out in the middle of nowhere, and let them enjoy the fresh air and sunshine, too. It was pure bliss.
Also, make sure on your way up to Cosby Campground, you stop at Mountain Hardware & General Store in Cosby. Buy some firewood, because you'll need it. And say hello to Aileen and Jay. They're transplants from Miami, and opened the coolest mountaintop store around. Tell them The Roamans sent you.
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