Frontcountry Camping in Great Smoky Mountain National Park

Discussion in 'Going to the DARK SIDE' started by Mayberry32, Apr 4, 2016.

  1. Mayberry32

    Mayberry32 New Member

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    My wife and I have been looking at buying a camper to get our kids into national parks and state parks. We started looking at pop ups, then considered hybrids, and I think, now, we are pretty sure we want a full travel trailer. The pop up will be outgrown with 3 small kids before we get started. The hybrids looked really nice, but I just didn't trust the fold up beds. Even at the dealership, with 2 boys playing and wrestling, it looked like something destined to break with kids. So, we are looking for a TT with a bunkhouse for the whole family.

    Looking at Great Smoky Mountains National Park (our closest NP), there are numerous "frontcountry" campsites. They have no electrical hookups, some have cold water only. I'm just trying to understand the setup. If no generators are allowed, does that mean no AC at all? Or, do you use batteries for power in that instance? The website says generators only able to be used for a few hours during the day...none overnight. TT's get really hot inside....especially in southern US summers. No way people try to sleep in their fiberglass boxes with no AC. Might as well sleep in a tent....it would be more comfortable. Sorry for the idiotic questions. I'm just new to this and want to know what to expect before jumping in.
     
  2. GalsofEscape

    GalsofEscape Active Member

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    It does take time and alot of thought to selecting the right camper for your family.
    camping without electric hookup would mean no air conditioner and yes, you are using your battery for power, but not everything runs on DC (battery) power. You will need to be sure that the fridge can run on propane, in other words you don't want a residential fridge. You are correct in that you would need a generator to power the AC and other appliances that require 120 volts and the use restrictions would limit the AC to those hours the Genny would be allowed to run. I would be looking for a trailer with alot of windows in that case. Many people who dry camp have a two battery system to provide enough power. An inverter may also be needed if you want to run some of the 120 volt appliances off the battery, but then you would definitely need more than one battery.
    There are others here that are much more knowledgeable on this type of camping and maybe they will chime in. I always get an electric hookup site so I don't have to deal with power management.
     
  3. jumpoff

    jumpoff I'm in a camping state of mind

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    "Looking at Great Smoky Mountains National Park (our closest NP), there are numerous "frontcountry" campsites. They have no electrical hookups, some have cold water only. I'm just trying to understand the setup. If no generators are allowed, does that mean no AC at all? Or, do you use batteries for power in that instance? The website says generators only able to be used for a few hours during the day...none overnight. TT's get really hot inside....especially in southern US summers. No way people try to sleep in their fiberglass boxes with no AC. Might as well sleep in a tent....it would be more comfortable. Sorry for the idiotic questions. I'm just new to this and want to know what to expect before jumping in."

    Yes, what you heard about the park is true. No electrical hookups are available and you cant run a generator at night. So you could always go in the spring or fall or use battery powered fans in the summer. If you want to go in summer there are alot of campgrounds around the perimeter of the park that offer full hookups and easy access to the park. Check out Townsend Tn, lots of campgrounds and pretty close to everything.
     
  4. Harrelldjr

    Harrelldjr Member

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    We follow the advice mentioned by Jumpoff. We camp in the Smokies during the spring and fall when AC isn't needed. We camp in state parks or other campgrounds with electricity in the warmer months when AC is a must.
     
  5. jumpoff

    jumpoff I'm in a camping state of mind

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    if they had full hookups in GSMNP you would never be able to get a campsite......
     
  6. Mayberry32

    Mayberry32 New Member

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    Thanks for the replies. After reading my original post, I want to clarify...I am not complaining about not having hookups. The mountains are beautiful and the Park I looks virtually untouched by man...even with 10 million visitors per year. I love the National Parks and want them to remain the way the are. I completely understand no electricity at the campgrounds. I do, however, have 3 kids: 6,3 and 1.5 yrs old. So, I have to plan for them, too, until they are older.

    So, for generator, Most nights in the mountains are slightly cool, until the dog days of summer. So, that wouldn't be bad. Would a Honda 2000 power everything fine, or would I need a larger generator to power everything during the day?

    How many batteries would I need to power the whole camper through an inverter, A/C included? 2 batteries per day? I assume they would be easy to recharge. We would be gone over half the days exploring, playing, etc. we have small kids, so we are always on the move. Could I recharge while we were gone and have enough to power the afternoon through the night, including A/C in the summer? I don't mind buying extra batteries, if needed. I even thought of getting a solar panel setup for the lower voltage things. Just trying to plan out a system that will work before purchasing, and we are getting close to buying...very soon.
     
  7. jumpoff

    jumpoff I'm in a camping state of mind

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    if you don't get a reply on your question about batteries and inverters on this topic thread post your specific question on another thread better suited for that topic.. There are tons of knowledgeable people that can help you with all your questions concerning electricity.
     
  8. kitphantom

    kitphantom Well-Known Member

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    Here is the section dealing with power. There are a couple of threads that will help determine power needs.
    http://www.popupportal.com/index.php?board=51.0

    AFAIK, to power the air conditioner, you'd need a heap of batteries - as in ridiculously large heap. If you truly need/want a/c all day/night, you're going to need to camp someplace with power hook-ups, or have a good sized generator and be able to boondock (camp outside of an actual campground), where you can run it as needed.

    Solar panels are an alternate way to recharge your battery or batteries. The batteries are what power 12v things when you are dry camping (camping without power) unless you have a generator actively running 110v things. If the generator is the correct size, you can run a microwave or a/c on it, but again your hours are limited in most campgrounds. (Many that we use limit then to a two hour window morning and evening.)

    Look again at your options. There are many folks on here with kids of all ages and activity level camping successfully in pop-ups, hybrids and TTs, without destruction by children or adults. Yes, a TT does not have the air circulation of pups or HTTs, so that may be a consideration. That will partly depend on the number of windows and the layout.
     

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