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123 votes

Elkmont Historic District

Little River Rd, Gatlinburg, Tennessee 37738 USA

Free to Visit
  • Independent
  • Credit Cards
    not Accepted
  • Pet Friendly
  • Public
  • No Wifi
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Hidden Gem

Our Take

The largest campground in Great Smoky Mountains National Park is located right next to a historic district that, while it's being fixed up, feels a lot like an abandoned summer camp. Elkmont was actually a logging community turned resort settlement, and the historic cabins that are being restored tell the story of the Smokies, from its days before it was protected to the rise in tourism and the establishment of the park, in a way that's totally, 100% authentic.

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“a ghost town in the smokies”

Elkmont is a region situated in the upper Little River Valley of the Great Smoky Mountains of Sevier County, in the U.S. state of Tennessee. Throughout its history, the valley has been home to a pioneer Appalachian community, a logging town, and a resort community. Today, Elkmont is home to a large campground, ranger station, and abandoned resort turned town historic district maintained by the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Upon the creation of the national park in the 1930s, most of Elkmont's cottage owners were given lifetime leases. These were converted to 20-year leases in 1952, and renewed in 1972. The National Park Service refused to renew the leases in 1992, and under the park's general management plan, the hotel and cottages were to be removed. In 1994, however, the Wonderland Hotel and several dozen of the Elkmont cottages were listed on the National Register of Historic Places as Elkmont Historic District, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, sparking a 15-year debate over the fate of the historic structures. In 2009, the National Park Service announced plans to restore the Appalachian Clubhouse and 18 cottages and outbuildings in the Appalachian Club area (which were older and more historically significant) and remove all other structures.

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Reviewed by

  • 1 Review
  • 8 Helpful
October 02, 2014
Rated 5.0

The state park was there. The people were made to leave by the park. Sad. But I had wonderful memories and the history section above missed the most important historical cabin in my opinion is the Avent Cabin the most hidden and beautiful cabin up there. If you can find it, (Goggle) Please enjoy where I spent my childhood summer's. Tearful, happy memories.

8 people found this review helpful

Reviewed by

  • 1 Review
  • 6 Helpful
April 17, 2014

This is actually a very cool thing to see, it is like people just got up and left their town and a state park was built around it! I would recommend it.

6 people found this review helpful

Reviewed by

  • 1 Review
  • 7 Helpful
December 23, 2013

I live in Knoxville, and I love venturing out to Elkmont and exploring the grounds. It's amazing!

7 people found this review helpful

Reviewed by
Austin Coop

  • 485 Reviews
  • 503 Helpful
April 09, 2014

This place is so creepy! Right by Elkmont is a whole street of abandoned cabins you can roam through. Feels like a ghost town deep in the woods!

4 people found this review helpful

Reviewed by

  • 1 Review
  • 3 Helpful
February 13, 2017

This is by far my favorite abandoned spot, however I would like to mention that the wonderland hotel burned down over the summer, and with the recent fires In the park I don't know how much is left. If anyone does know and could tell me that would be great.

3 people found this review helpful

Reviewed by
Anna Hider

  • Blogger
  • 1,414 Reviews
  • 621 Helpful
March 17, 2019
Rated 5.0

Easy find, lots of signs and a parking lot right next to it. It’s in great condition, and they’re working on fixing some of them up. Bathrooms were still closed for the season in mid March FYI!

2 people found this review helpful

Reviewed by

  • 5 Reviews
  • 3 Helpful
March 07, 2015

Back in April of 2012, my husband and I had the first wedding held at the refurbished Appalachian Clubhouse since its hay day. It was beautiful we said our vows right in front of one of its two stone fireplaces. Afterwards our families enjoyed hiking and exploring the abandoned grounds. i have many pictures of the inside if anyone is interested.

2 people found this review helpful

Reviewed by

  • 1 Review
  • 2 Helpful
October 05, 2014

I grew up going to the smokys every summer from 1974 to around 1989. And people were staying in the homes then. My brother new one of the guys. Or met him there. He said his family inherited it. Now the park plans to refurbish some bc they are registered landmarks. I was just there sept 30, 2014 and drove up to it to reminise, well it is spooky; no one. But as a 7 year old child. All of the kids on the campground in the 70's hung out by them. Went in one. Anyway. Just saying my experience w it.

2 people found this review helpful

Reviewed by

  • 68 Reviews
  • 26 Helpful
October 26, 2014
Rated 4.0

The abandoned city is really cool to walk through. From bathtubs to fireplaces to the city hall, so much of it is still intact. You can also hike around to Elkmont's "suburbs" that have a few standing building or the water source - take your pick. Beautiful, easy hikes!

1 person found this review helpful

Reviewed by
Johanna Flato

  • Expert
  • 145 Reviews
  • 124 Helpful
October 02, 2014
Rated 5.0

Elkmont features the remnants of an old Appalachian community. You can see all sorts of old abandoned railroad odds and ends.

For a really awesome experience, go the first week of June to see the synchronized lightning bugs dance and mate. It used to be a thing only insiders knew about, but now the park allows 1000 people a night to come check it out. These nights get booked up immediately, so stay on top of it if you are interested!

Thanks Clayton and Smoky Mountain Guides for all the stories and info!

1 person found this review helpful

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Elkmont Historic District

Little River Rd
Gatlinburg, Tennessee
37738 USA
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  • Parking
  • Pets Allowed
  • Restrooms
  • Wifi
  • Wheelchair Accessible
  • Credit Cards Accepted
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