Best Backcountry Camping – Episode 80 Great Smoky Mountains Site 66 in the Summertime
Our wilderness experience began by researching online to find the best backcountry campsite in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. We discovered that campsite 66 was located just off of Fontana Lake. It is a boat access only location. However, we thought it could be an easy short hike. It appeared on the map to be only about one mile off of the road on Lake View Drive.
We decided to enjoy our escapade on Labor weekend. Luke had to work as a lifeguard on Monday. Therefore, we left our home early Saturday morning for just the one night. We purchased our backcountry permit for campsite 66 and prepared our gear earlier in the week. When we got to the parking lot closest to the trail, we simply put on our backpacks and began hiking.
It was fun not knowing if we could actually achieve our adventure. The trail ended before campsite 66 on the map. It wasn’t as difficult finding the site as we expected. Since the distance to the campsite was not long, we brought a couple of amenities like frozen steak and sausages. There was a few areas to choose from to set up camp. We chose the farthest place from the trail that was closest to the water.
After setting up our tents and unpacking, we went swimming. To our good fortune we found a rope swing. Luke nervously tried it first and he was successful. The rest of us swung and jumped into the warm water too. It was very enjoyable. We were playing at the best backcountry campsite we ever explored.
Next we gathered wood, built a fire, and slowly cooked some food. We ate like royalty. Usually we bring more than we need when we backcountry camp. In this instance, there was no exception. Even though we were only a mile away from our vehicle, we rather be over prepared then struggle if there was an issue or emergency.
The weather was perfect and we were relaxed. We were just hanging out together as a family. Desert for us is extremely competitive. Roasting marshmallows over the campfire has become an art-form. Winston as learned to patiently melt the interior while creating a golden brown exterior. Alisa can do the same, but somehow do it perfectly every time.
Since all our stomachs were full we went into our tents. Darkness came quickly and a storm began. First, we heard some thunder. Second, we saw the lightning. Third, we felt the heavy rain pound our tents. It sounded like as we were in a white water river, but thankfully we were dry.
When we woke up the next morning all of us realized that this was truly the best backcountry campsite. We look forward to exploring and discovering more amazing places soon. Thank goodness we took a chance and got into the WILDLIFE!
FYI – we tried getting there on Friday and the water level is now FAR higher than in your photos, making it truly not possible to reach by land. We tried scrambling up the very steep embankment and through the thick brush but it is dangerously impossible, at least with packs.