Elkmont Ghost Town: The Former Vacation Town In The Smoky Mountains That You Can Still Visit

Hidden within forests of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Elkmont Ghost Town reminds of a bygone era.

This former resort community, also known as Daisy Town, offers a glimpse into the area’s recent history.

a house in the woods Daisy Town at Elkmont
Road looking down the main street of Daisy Town at Elkmont. Photo by Ashley @ TheSmokyMountains.com

We recently visited it again for some new pictures, and updated info on Elkmont’s fascinating past, how to find it, and what you can discover there.

The Rise and Fall of Elkmont

a house in the woods Daisy Town at Elkmont
Buildings of Daisy Town at Elkmont. Photo by Ashley @ TheSmokyMountains.com

Elkmont’s story begins in the late 1800s with the arrival of the Little River Lumber Company.

As logging operations expanded, the company built a railroad to transport timber.

Recognizing the area’s natural beauty, they soon pivoted to promoting tourism.

a house with trees around it Daisy Town at Elkmont
Cabin at Daisy Town at Elkmont. Photo by Ashley @ TheSmokyMountains.com

In 1910, the Appalachian Club was formed, and wealthy families from nearby cities began building vacation homes in what would become Daisy Town.

a house in the woods
Cabins of Daisy Town at Elkmont. Photo by Ashley @ TheSmokyMountains.com

The creation of Great Smoky Mountains National Park in the 1930s marked the beginning of Elkmont’s end.

Most landowners sold their properties to the government in exchange for lifetime leases. These leases allowed them to continue using their cabins for decades, but by the 1990s, the National Park Service decided not to renew them.

a sign with a picture of a train
Sign at the start of Daisy Town at Elkmont. Photo by Ashley @ TheSmokyMountains.com

The last resident left Elkmont in 2001, leaving the area frozen in time.

a room with a fireplace and windows Daisy Town at Elkmont
Inside of a cabin at Daisy Town at Elkmont. Photo by Ashley @ TheSmokyMountains.com

Getting to Elkmont

Elkmont is about 8 miles from Gatlinburg, Tennessee. From Gatlinburg, take US-441 South towards the Sugarlands Visitor Center. Just before reaching the center, turn right onto Fighting Creek Gap Road (Little River Road).

Follow this road for about 4.5 miles until you see signs for the Elkmont Campground.

a river running through a forest Dat Elkmont
Bridge near campground at Elkmont. Photo by Ashley @ TheSmokyMountains.com

Turn left onto the campground road, which will take you past some campsites and over a river.

When you get to the campground entrance below, take a left turn towards Elkmont Nature Trail

entrance to a campground where the road splits
Entrance to the campground at Elkmont, turn left here for Daisy Town. Photo by Ashley @ TheSmokyMountains.com

The first parking lot that you reach is not the main buildings of Daisy Town, but where some of the old riverfront buildings were.

parking lot Daisy Town at Elkmont
The first parking lot for the riverside sites at Elkmont. Photo by Ashley @ TheSmokyMountains.com

On our first visit, we parked here and walked the trail for a while before realizing the town was a bit further down the road.

a gravel road through a forest now a trail
Old rail bed at Elkmont. Photo by Ashley @ TheSmokyMountains.com

If you stop here, walk down the easy trail (made from an old train railbed) to some of the riverfront building remains.

old house remains in the forest along a trail

From this area, you’ll drive from the first parking lot up a hill to the Daisy Town parking lot.

Exploring the Ghost Town

As you step into Elkmont, you enter a world suspended in time.

inside of a cabin Daisy Town at Elkmont

The heart of the ghost town is Daisy Town, featuring a row of abandoned cottages along the former main street.

These structures, many dating back to the early 1900s, showcase the rustic charm of early 20th-century mountain architecture.

cabin in the woods at Daisy Town at Elkmont

The National Park Service has restored several buildings, including the Appalachian Clubhouse and Spence Cabin.

You can walk through many buildings, as we did on this trip.

The Future of Elkmont

renovated cabin Daisy Town at Elkmont

The National Park Service continues working on a long-term Elkmont management plan.

While some structures have been restored and others removed for safety reasons, many buildings remain in a state of picturesque decay.

cabin in the woods Daisy Town at Elkmont

more to see

Elkmont isn’t just about abandoned buildings. It’s also a great starting point for scenic hikes. The Little River Trail and Jakes Creek Trail both offer beautiful walks.

If you visit in late May or early June, you might witness one of nature’s most spectacular displays.

Elkmont is famous for its annual synchronous firefly event, where thousands of fireflies blink in unison, creating a mesmerizing light show. It’s so popular that you need to enter a lottery (or book an early campsite) to get parking tickets.

Similar Posts

2 Comments

  1. Been there several times. It really gives u an understanding how people lived during that time period. We enjoyed it immensely, one family outing u should not miss.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *