Interested to know what everyone's favorite (and least favorite) campsites are in the GSMNP. If we're going to have to pay for them, might as well pay for a good one!
My experience is mostly on the NC side of the park. So here goes mine:
47 Enloe Creek - not the best tent sites as they sit right on the trail (but it's a mostly unused trail I think). But the setting on Roaring Fork is fantastic. Literally roaring loud water and 2 great swimming holes just a few feet from the site. Cool summertime temps with its 3600' elevation, too. Not much tree cover which makes for great star viewing at night. Small site but not much traffic around there so you'd likely have all to yourself. Hikers only.
49 Cabin Flats - somewhat remote site on the Bradley Fork. several nice private campsites sitting right on the Fork. Bradley Fork is wide, but shallow (at least in summer). Perfect for walking up the creek to explore a remote area of the park. I have heard that this site is popular with horse campers but I haven't seen them in my 2 trips there.
60 Baumgardner Branch - nice scenic site right alongside Deep Creek. Only a few miles from the DC entrance (tubers everywhere) so it could get crowded I guess. 59 and 58 (hikers only) a little further up the creek are likely just as nice and farther from the parking lot.
37 Lower Walnut - large site along Big Creek that can get crowded I've heard. I have seen several groups there before but it's so big I haven't really noticed them.
17 Little Bottoms - camped there for the first time 2 weeks ago. Near Abram's Creek. Seems it would make a great base camp. Lots of other trails very close by, including some with loop possibilities.
Not my favorites:
46 Estes Branch - the whole site sits on a slope. Only flat places are where people have carved the dirt from the slope to make a flat tent site. Also chain saws went wild there. Dozens of large logs of varying length are strewn all over the place. Felt like I was camping at a lumber yard.
39 Pretty Hollow - Also on a slope. I think this site gets a lot of use due to close proximity to the Cataloochee parking area. Always a lot of people and a lot of trash when I've been there. Same story for 40. Almost car camping, I've seen people rolling coolers in flip flops down Rough Fork trail to camp there.
On the to-do list:
44 McGee Springs - high elevation (+5000') site in a very quiet area of the park. I've heard it's a very nice site. I want to use it as a base camp to explore the Three Forks area down below.
29 Otter Creek - have never been on the trails in this vicinity but am anxious to do so. Looks like a nice 2 night loop coupled with 34.
With all the backcountry experience on this site, I'd like to know what other good sites are out there.