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One of the best ways to enjoy the great outdoors is to have an old fashioned picnic and there is no better place to have a picnic than the Great Smoky Mountains national park spanning the states of both North Carolina and Tennessee.

While most parks have maybe 1 or 2 picnic areas, the Smokies boost 11 picnic areas! All of the picnic areas in the GSMNP are accessible by car, and most have handicapped accessible areas as well.

Only 4 picnic areas in the Great Smoky Mountains national park are open year round. One is in North Carolina: Deep Creek outside Bryson City and the remaining 3 are located in Tennessee: Cades Cove, Greenbrier, and Metcalf Bottoms.

Picnic areas and campgrounds are the only place you are allowed to make a fire or cook food with a flame, portable grill or stove. These laws are strictly enforced so if you want to have a BBQ in the Great Smoky Mountains national park you must do so in a designated picnic area. Tailgate anywhere, just as long as you are not cooking or burning anything!

All picnic areas have charcoal grills with grates at each site and it is up to you to supply your own charcoal, grill brush and utensils. The only campground store that sells supplies is in Cades Cove and is only open seasonally so it is best to bring your picnic supplies into the Great Smoky Mountains national park.

Not all picnic areas have covered pavilions, but for those that do you can make reservations up to one year in advance online at www.recreation.gov or by calling (877)444-6777. Payment can be made by credit card or personal check at the time the reservation is made. Pavilions can not be used for commercial purposes or events professionally managed.

You may wonder why the picnic areas close early in the evening than expected. That is so crews can be sure that bears, raccoons and other wildlife are not feasting on scraps or trash which endangers their lives and possibly yours in the case of a black bear losing its much need natural fear on man. We suggest before entering the GSMNP or any wild area your read about our Black Bear Information and Safety Tips for The Great Smoky Mountains National Park.