Camping in the Smokey Mountains!

June 8, 2020

The Ponderosa was back up this past week while I took a little blog vacay and we headed out to Gatlinburg to camp this year.

In case you are new around here, we are big ole tent camping lovers. I firmly believe that camping affords you the chance to vacation, be outdoors, and not spend a ton of money. We went years without going on vacation and finally I talked Jeremy into going camping with me (he thought I'd be an awful camper even though I grew up doing it). Here we are years later and the kids adore camping and we can see new places for very little money. 

When the kids are older the plan to do do more involved camping and see parks that are further away. At the moment just hiking a mountain with small people was stressful. Not to mention worrying about wildlife... I can't be attacked by a bear because someone dropped a Dorito.

This year we stayed at Greenbriar Campground in Gatlinburg, it was minutes away from everything you'd want to do in the area (Pigeon Forge included) while getting the benefit of a well kept campground with very nice bathrooms. 

Nice bathrooms are crucial when you're sleeping outside for days... let's be real honest I am a glamper. We have an AC set up. 

Which surprisingly it was very cold at night and we only used the AC to keep it cool so the kids could nap during the day and get the temp down in the tent before temps dropped outside (because these kids still go down at 7:30pm). 

For our first full day we went to Ripley's Aquarium. I had initially planned this trip long before Covid and everything closing... then it was rescheduled due to the tropical storm on the East Coast. So we just got out there and went with the flow this time. 

The kids loved the aquarium and their slow moving track through the shark tunnel was great! 

In case you ever think "my kids could never tent camp because we sleep in a dark room at home!" think again! I'm the queen of sound machines (two are in their room right now) and I black out everything so that at any point in time it looks like the dead of night. 

These kids sleep well in a tent. They take a second longer to fall asleep at night and would have slept to their normal time just fine. Except on the second morning a little girl came running by at 6:30am hollering for no reason during quiet hours mine you, and woke up Elliot. 

I find I just have to be more flexible and we get back to normal when we get home. Especially with the one hour time difference. 

Another tent tip: it might not be pretty but putting a tarp over the top of your tent drastically reduces the light and heat.

Typically this is tied to trees and not anchored to the ground (that went bad when we camped in Austin and a storm came through nearly lifting the tent up during the night) but we didn't have but two trees that weren't placed well on our site. 

That tent pad might be my favorite of all time though. 

Want to have a fire but don't trust little people... Kid Co Go Pod for the win. 

Trapped like a rat. 

Harrison on the other hand has finally gotten much more comfortable, for me, around a fire and doesn't seem to want to just fall straight in. 

Camping will be such a breeze in a few years, I have to remind myself that at one point Harrison would wander off and get into trouble all the time. I don't care who you are... kids can time warp to random places in the blink of an eye. 

On our second day we hiked the Sweat Heifer Creek Trail in the Smokey Mountain National Park. 

This is where Harry needs more practice, he isn't quite agile enough for the rocks and needs more understanding of falling off a mountain so I'm not so anxious. 

Don't let this photo fool you, the fence was done as soon as the steps started. 

Then we quickly learned that we have gotten out of shape. 

Quite often we would get to the side to let actual hikers who weren't toting small children get ahead of us. I had a good laugh when one family of teens got close and I told them they could pass... to which the father replied "Oh wait are y'all Hansel and Gretel? We can't pass, we were following the trail of Goldfish." 


Needless to say we were picking up any fish Harry dropped but being that Jeremy was at the back of the line and wearing Elliot, no one was seeing him drop snacks. 

Here's the outlook at the top of that trail! 

And that was this summer's trip! 

We were home a day before Harrison asked if we could go camping again. No worries though because as soon as Dollywood opens I'd like to go back. 

I'll have to go ahead and apologize to my family in advance and tell them they'll have to find us in the mountains for all holidays from this point forward! Lol! Camping in the Smokies was vastly different from our previous trips in the much smaller Ozark's of Arkansas.