Park reopens Look Rock Campground after nine-year closure

Last edited 03/24/2023
A campground road with individual sites visible surrounded by trees beginning to turn yellow, red, and orange for fall. Fallen leaves sprinkle the ground.

National Park Service
News Release Date: October 14, 2022

Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials announced the reopening of Look Rock Campground following a nine-year closure. The 68-site campground will open on Saturday, October 15 through Sunday, November 13, providing a unique, fall camping opportunity in 2022.   

“Since the new section of the Foothills Parkway opened in 2018, this area of the park has become a stand-alone destination and I’m pleased that after a long, but steady effort, we are able to once again provide a camping opportunity along one of the most scenic drives in the park,” said Superintendent Cassius Cash. “We are grateful for the voices who supported us in our efforts to secure the needed funding for repairs, including the Friends of the Smokies and their donors.” 

In 2013, Look Rock Campground and Picnic Area were closed after the water utility systems failed. In 2019, the park received funds to install a handicap-accessible vault toilet which allowed the reopening of the picnic area with limited services. Now, the water system has been completely replaced, allowing access to flush toilets and potable water in the campground. All campground sites were rehabilitated, including the installation of new picnic tables and fire rings. As a part of the park’s effort to modernize camping opportunities when feasible, ten sites were renovated to specifically accommodate larger recreational vehicles. These ten sites will offer the first-ever electric and water hookups in a park campground. The campground and picnic area were also repaved as a part of the rehabilitation.  

“The Friends of the Smokies stand at the ready to enhance and improve visitor opportunities across the park,” said Friends of the Smokies President Jim Hart. “Thanks to some very special donors, including the Margie Manville family, I am proud that we were able to be a part of restoring this special campground where more great memories can be made, today and well into the future.”  

The park received $4.7 million for the renovation through campground fees, donation monies, and federal funds, which included a special federal fund source that requires philanthropic partner matching funds. A $4 million contract was executed for the completion of the water line replacement, repaving, and groundwork. Park crews installed picnic tables and rehabilitated individual sites, which included the installation of 68 campsite signposts that were constructed and hand-painted by a Volunteer in Park.  

At nearly 3,000 feet in elevation, Look Rock Campground provides a unique camping experience along the ridge with overlooks into the western end of the park. The campground is located along the Foothills Parkway between Walland, Tennessee and Chilhowee Lake. The scenic drive provides spectacular views of the mountains, along with a trail to the Look Rock Observation Tower. This 17-mile Foothills Parkway section was recently repaved using $31 million in funding from the Great American Outdoors Act (GAOA). Contract crews are currently completing that project by installing guardrails, culverts, and permanent pavement striping. All roadwork is expected to be complete next spring. During this time, single-lane closures may be required to safely complete the work and motorists should expect brief delays. 

Campground reservations must be made through Recreation.Gov. Typically, the campground is expected to be open May through October. Visit the park's camping page for more information.


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