This was our first time here, and our first time in the Smokies. We considered the NP's Balsam Mountain campground, but after checking it out, glad that we stayed at MHC. We were tent camping, but noticed every kind of mode there - rv's, popups, 5th wheel, etc.
Pro's: great views, outstanding hospitality, interesting wildlife sightings, QUIET, sites had privacy, awesome sunrises, sunsets, stargazing, hot water, showers, firewood, spacious sites, uncrowded (we arrived w/o a reservation but had plenty to choose from), at least 10-15 degrees cooler than other campgrounds in the valley, which was our primary reason for going there. Each site is unique in size, depth, view, distance to bathroom, etc. No cookie cutter sites like in the NP campgrounds. Thursday night potluck gathering with other campers was a blast, and some of the best food I've ever had while camping!
Cons: bathrooms are "rustic" but hey, they don't advertise anything but "primitive" so you know that going in! A few steps up from an outhouse (not heated, lights only at certain times of the day run by a generator). Depending on which site you are at you may have a bit of a hike to get to the bathroom if you don't have a trailer or rv, so keep that in mind if you have children or frequency issues.
Other: they have a Dutch Oven cook off there the last weekend of July which sounds like a lot of fun, but if you plan to go, definitely make a reservation as it sounds like it's pretty full
up then. Some of the sites are small but perfect for backpacking-sized tents, very few of the sites look big enough for larger trailers and RVs.
For the sake of comparison, the Balsam mountain campground has bathrooms with flush toilets, but no hot water/showers, the sites are extremely small and shallow (those with larger trailers/RVs actually have to park in the roadway itself) and there seems to be little or no privacy and space between sites, much like all the other campgrounds in the GSMNP. And it's much further away from Cherokee, very remote, no real views to speak of, and certainly not the hospitality you get at MHC!
- Also Known As:
- Mile High Campground Hotel Cherokee