Attractions

10 Best Places to Go Camping in Tennessee

Tennessee’s natural beauty is often overlooked compared to its status as a country music capital and home to Tennessee whiskey, and now we correct this slight by exploring the best places to go camping in Tennessee.

From the rugged Great Smoky Mountains in the east to the Cumberland Plateau mid-state, to the Mississippi River to the west, and all the lakes and forests scattered in the state, Tennessee is a marvel of nature.

Here are some of the best campgrounds in Tennessee, organized according to the Grand Divisions of the state.

Camping in East Tennessee

East Tennessee is part of the Appalachian Region and includes parts of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Tennessee Valley, and the Cumberland Plateau.

It’s probably no surprise, then, that this is a favorite destination of campers looking to escape the summer heat in this cooler mountainous region.

1. Cosby Campground

Great Smoky Mountains

Cosby Campground is located within the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the most visited national park in the US.

This park is normally crowded, but Cosby Campground is a bit more secluded than the others but close enough to Gatlinburg for access to the essentials like fuel and stores.

Cosby Campground has 157 campsites available for reservation only.

Essential Information
Address: 127 Cosby Entrance Rd, Cosby, TN 37722 | 423-487-2683; 877-444-6777 (Reservations)
Months Available: April to October
Amenities: RV sites (no hookups), tent sites (no hookups), ADA sites, grills, picnic tables, drinking water, restrooms, dump station, pet-friendly (leashed), river access, creek access, general store, heat-treated firewood
Activities: Hiking, fishing, wildlife watching, bear watching, horseback riding
Nearby places of interest: Hen Wallow Falls, Mt Cammerer Lookout Tower, Snake Den Ridge Trail, Sutton Ridge Overlook Trail, Cosby Creek
Price per night: $17.50
More information:
Cosby Campground | Recreation.gov (Reservations)
Cosby Campground | National Park Service

2. Greenbrier Campground

Gatlinburg

A favorite of campers, both local and out-of-state, Greenbrier Campground is on an island surrounded by the Little Pigeon River right on the edge of the Great Smokey Mountains National Park.

It offers 120 sites with full hookups available and is consistently rated highly by both locals and out-of-state campers.

Because of all its amenities, staying here will be more expensive than in other campgrounds in this national park.

This campground is around a half-hour away from Gatlinburg, which is lovely to visit for its fall foliage.

It’s also close to Pigeon Forge, so if you want to take a side trip to Dollywood, which we’ve included in our list of best amusement parks in the country.

Essential Information
Address: 2353 East Pkwy, Gatlinburg, TN 37738 | 865-430-7415 (Reservations)
Months Available: Year-round
Amenities: Cabins, RV park (with electric and water hookups, cable, and wifi), tent sites (with full hookups), tipis, bell tents, pet-friendly (6 feet or shorter leash), drinking water, fire rings, grills, swimming pool, game room, general store, market, heat-treated firewood, laundry, playground, picnic areas, dog park, outdoor recreation area, beach area, showers, restrooms, dump station, sewer hookup
Activities: Hiking, biking, fishing, boating, swimming, bear watching
Nearby places of interest: Little Pigeon River, Little Greenbrier Trail, Flint Rock swimming hole, Emerts Cove Covered Bridge, Gatlinburg
Price per night: $35 to $258
More information:
Greenbrier Campground Homepage (Reservations except for same-day)

3. Chester Frost County Park

Chester Frost Park is located on Chickamauga Lake, one of the biggest lakes in Tennessee. In fact, Chickamauga Lake is on our list of best places to fish in the country.

Aside from fishing, paddlers can also venture out to neighboring sloughs and marshes to do some wildlife watching.

Compared to other, more crowded campgrounds on Chickamauga Lake, this county park is less crowded yet still meticulously maintained.

The annual Hamilton County Fair is held at Chester Frost Park on the last weekend of September. Musical performances, arts and crafts, antique cars and tractors, bungee jumping, and various competitions are featured.

You can also come into Chattanooga and visit the Tennessee Aquarium, Chattanooga Zoo, and take a side trip to Rock City and Ruby Falls.

Essential Information
Address: 2277 Gold Point Cir N, Hixson, TN 37343 | 423-209-6894
Months Available: Year-round
Amenities: RV sites (with electric and water hookups), tent sites (with electric and water hookups), ADA sites, laundry, dump station, showers, restrooms, game area, tennis courts, playgrounds, grills, picnic tables, pet-friendly (leashed; the beach is for service animals only), fishing piers, boat launches, boat docks, heat-treated firewood
Activities: Hiking, swimming, wildlife watching, boating, kayaking, fishing
Nearby places of interest: Jackson Chapel Cemetery, Chattanooga, Tennessee River, Chickamauga & Chattanooga National Military Park
Price per night: $21 to $30
More information:
Chester Frost Park | Hamilton County Parks and Recreation
Chester Frost Park | Hamilton County Parks (Reservations)

4. Cades Cove Campground

Cades Cove

Cades Cove is one of the most popular places to visit in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and for good reason.

Cades Cove is actually a valley where Cherokee Indians hunted hundreds of years ago.

Nowadays, its spectacular view of the Rockies is a lovely setting for outdoor activities, such as hiking, wildlife watching, or simply taking in the colorful carpet of wildflowers in the spring.

Another highlight of camping here is the nearby historic structures, such as churches, cemeteries, log cabins, and barns from the 18th and 19th centuries.

There are 160 campsites in total, and reservations are required during peak season (May to October).

Cades Cove is an hour away from Knoxville, and if you have a couple of days or a weekend free, try to visit such attractions as Market Square, Zoo Knoxville, and take a photo with the Sunsphere in the background.

Essential Information
Address: 10042 Campground Dr, Townsend, TN 37882 | 865-448-4103 (Information); 877-444-6777 (Reservations)
Months Available: Year-round
Amenities: RV sites (no hookups), tent sites (no hookups), ADA sites, grills, fire rings, picnic area, fire pit, restrooms, drinking water, dump station, pet-friendly (leashed only), general store, heat-treated firewood, bike rentals, riding stable
Activities: Hiking, biking, horseback riding, wildlife watching, fishing
Nearby places of interest: Cades Cove Nature Trail, Abrams Creek, Abrams Falls, Gourley’s Pond, John Oliver Cabin, John Cable Grist Mill, Henry Whitehead House, Missionary Baptist Church Cemetery, Knoxville
Price per night: $25
More information:
Cades Cove Campground | Recreation.gov (Reservations)
Cades Cove Campground | National Park Service

Camping in Middle Tennessee

East Tennessee may be the more popular camping destination, but Middle Tennessee has its own appeal.

Cumberland Plateau dominates the area, and there are plenty of lakes and rivers that are attractive to campers and fishers.

5. Fall Creek Falls State Park

Fall Creek Falls

This state park is the largest and most visited state park in Tennessee both by tourists and locals.

It’s named after Fall Creek Falls, which is the highest free-fall waterfall east of the Mississippi. You can hike to its overlook as well as the plunge pool.

They offer 222 campsites and 30 cabins, as well as primitive and backcountry sites. If this is your first time going camping in Tennessee, this is the perfect place for beginners.

The Nature Center offers arts and crafts, movies, campfires, games, and musical entertainment, which kids will surely enjoy.

They also have a Canopy Challenge Course, an aerial adventure course with bridges, rope swings, and other obstacles that test your balance.

Essential Information
Address: 2009 Village Camp Rd, Spencer, TN 38585 | 423-881-5298 (Reservations and Inquiries)
Months Available: Year-round
Amenities: Cabins, tent sites (with and without electric and water hookups), RV park (with electric and water hookups), ADA sites, showers, restrooms, playgrounds, picnic pavilions, pet-friendly, dump stations, dock, boat rentals, basketball court, volleyball court, tennis court, laundry, ice available, heat-treated firewood, general shop, golf shop, gift shops, swimming pool, camp store, restaurant
Activities: Hiking, biking, fishing, swimming, horseback riding, birdwatching, golfing
Nearby places of interest: Fall Creek Falls, Piney Falls, Cane Creek Falls, Cane Creek Cascades, Wheatstone Creek, Caney Creek, Cave Hollow, Piney Falls Overlook, Millikans Overlook, Lower Loop Trail
Price per night: $15 to $25
More information:
Fall Creek Falls State Park | Tennessee State Parks (Reservations)

6. Bledsoe Creek State Park

Bledsoe Creek was once the hunting ground for Native American tribes, including the Cherokee, Shawnee, Creek, and Chickamauga.

Eventually, it was developed as part of the Old Hickory Dam project by the US Army Corps of Engineers and is now a state park with a campground and a recreational area. Aside from its historical significance, it’s a few miles away from historic mansions.

It’s also 42 minutes away from Nashville, so if you have an extra three days, why not spend them in Nashville?

Note that though it’s literally on the water, swimming is prohibited in this park.

Essential Information
Address: 400 Zieglers Fort Rd, Gallatin, TN 37066 | 615-452-3706
Months Available: Year-round
Amenities: RV sites (with electric and water hookups), tents (with electric and water hookups), ADA sites, grills, fire pits, picnic tables, lantern holders, dump station, general store, heat-treated firewood, showers, restrooms, pet-friendly (leashed only), playground, game area, gift shop, kayak and paddleboard rentals, boat launch
Activities: Hiking, wildlife watching, birdwatching, fishing, canoeing, kayaking, paddleboarding
Nearby places of interest: Old Hickory Lake, Birdsong Nature Trail, Owl Ridge Trail, Shoreline Trail, High Ridge Trail, Mayo Wix Memorial Trail, Woodchuck Hollow Trail, Bledsoe Creek Loop, Bledsoe’s Fort, Wynnewood Historic Area, Cragfont Historic Mansion, Nashville
Price per night: $25 to $35
More information:
Bledsoe Creek State Park | Tennessee State Parks (Reservations)

7. Piney Campground

The Land Between the Lakes Recreation Area maintains forests, wetlands, and open areas between the Kentucky and Barley Lakes in Western Kentucky and Tennessee. Piney Campground is one of the best places to camp on the Tennessee side of this recreation area.

Piney Campground is on Kentucky Lake and has 384 campsites, some of them fronting the lake and others in the woods.

Time your visit in mid-September to participate in their annual Campers’ Fair featuring a campers’ flea market and showcases of new RVs and motor homes.

Or go in the summer with kids to participate in recreational activities that they host, including movie nights and music nights in their amphitheater.

Essential Information
Address: 621 Fort Henry Rd, Dover, TN 37058 | 931-232-5331 (Reservations); 931-232-9401 (Winter)
Months Available: Year-round
Amenities: Cabins, tent sites (with and without electric and water hookups), RV Sites (with electric and water hookups), ADA sites, pet-friendly (leashed only), bike rentals, softball field, archery range, activity court, campfire theater, fire ring, picnic area, boat ramps, fishing pier, dump station, laundry, showers, restrooms, outpost (food, drinks, ice, heat-treated firewood,
Activities: Hiking, biking, hunting, swimming, fishing, kayaking,
Nearby places of interest: Kentucky Lake, Piney Bay, Fort Henry Trail System
Price per night: $12 to $40
More information:
Piney Campground | Land Between the Lakes (Reservations)

Camping in West Tennessee

West Tennessee is bound by the Tennessee River Valley in the east and the Mississippi River in the west, with forests and lakes in the midst of low-lying plains.

Most tourists think of West Tennessee as a flat, boring region, but it actually offers plenty of nature with fewer crowds.

So if you’re looking for some solitude, West Tennessee may be a great camping destination for you.

8. Natchez Trace State Park

Natchez Trace State Park is a 10,000-acre park with forests, fields, streams, and four lakes (Browns Creek Lake, Maple Creek Lake, Pin Oak Lake, Cub Creek Lake).

It’s named for the Natchez Trace, a historic forest trail from Nashville, Tennessee to Natchez, Mississippi used by Native Americans for centuries and later by Europeans and American explorers.

Aside from the usual outdoor activities, the park headquarters features a museum showcasing the history of the area and the park, a wildlife viewing area, and an aquarium.

The nearest city is Lexington, which is ideal to stock up before you proceed to the campgrounds.

Essential Information
Address: 24845 Natchez Trace Rd, Wildersville, TN 38388 | 731-968-3742
Months Available: Year-round
Amenities: Cabins, lodges, RV sites (with electric and water hookups), tent sites, wrangler sites (for horses), grills, fire rings, picnic tables, lantern holders, restrooms, showers, dump station, playgrounds, ball field, firing range, archery range, boat launches, general store (ice, heat-treated firewood), gift shops, restaurant
Activities: Hiking, biking, horseback riding, wildlife watching, birdwatching, swimming, boating, fishing, kayaking, canoeing, waterskiing
Nearby places of interest: Redbud Lake, Cedar Lake, Natchez Trace State Forest, Cub Lake Trail, Fairview Gullies Trail, Fern Trail, Oak Ridge Trail, Pin Oak Trail, Red Leaves Trail
Price per night: $15 to $35
More information:
Natchez Trace State Park | Tennessee State Parks (Reservations)

9. Big Hill Pond State Park

Camping in one of Tennessee’s best-kept secrets promises to be a great adventure.

Located north of the Tennessee–Mississippi border, it’s known for its hardwood forest that looks spectacular in the fall.

The park is named after Big Hill Pond, which was excavated to build a levee across Tuscumbia and Cypress Creek bottoms for the Memphis and Charleston Railroad.

Eventually, a stand of cypress trees grew around this pond that boasts spectacular red and gold leaves in the autumn.

It features plenty of hiking, biking, and horseback trails, but its highlight is the Cypress Dismal Swamp Boardwalk leading to a 70-foot observational tower offering a panoramic view of Dismal Swamp and Travis McNatt Lake.

Plus, this is a dark sky area so it’s also excellent for stargazing.

Slots are limited; there are only 28 rustic campsites, so reserve yours early.

Essential Information
Address: 1435 John Howell Rd, Pocahontas, TN 38061 | 731-645-7967
Months Available: Year-round
Amenities: RV sites (no hookups), tent sites (no hookups), ADA sites, showers, restrooms, grills, picnic tables, playground, pet-friendly (leashed only), boat launch, boardwalk, lookout tower, heat-treated firewood, gift shop
Activities: Hiking, biking, horseback riding, birdwatching, wildlife watching, boating, fishing, canoeing, kayaking
Nearby places of interest: Big Hill Pond, Travis McNatt Lake, Dismal Swamp, Cypress Creek, Tuscumbia River, Turkey Call Trail, Azalea Spring Day Loop Trail, Tuscumbia Trail, Dogwood Point Lake
Price per night: $8 to $25
More information:
Big Hill Pond State Park | Tennessee State Parks (Reservations)

10. T. O. Fuller State Park

T. O. Fuller State Park is located within the southern city limits of Memphis, with plenty of activities in store for its visitors.

But aside from its diverse terrain and quiet setting, this state park offers plenty of history.

Initially designated as the Shelby County Negro State Park, the name was changed in 1942 to T. O. Fuller State Park in honor of Dr. Thomas O. Fuller, an African American author, pastor, and civic leader who spent his life educating African Americans.

Before this, there is evidence the adjacent site was a burial ground for the Chucalissa Native Americans, and it has since been developed into the Chucalissa Indian Village, complete with preserved archaeological excavations and a museum.

Essential Information
Address: 1500 W Mitchell Rd, Memphis, TN 38109 | 901-543-7581
Months Available: Year-round
Amenities: RV sites (with electric and water hookups), tent sites (with electric and water hookups), ADA sites, grills, picnic tables, fire rings, lantern hanger, dump station, pet-friendly (leashed only), showers, restrooms, laundry, swimming pool, splash pad, playground, ball fields, basketball court, tennis court, gift shop, heat-treated firewood
Activities: Hiking, biking, birdwatching, wildlife watching, swimming
Nearby places of interest: T. O. Fuller Interpretive Center, C. H. Nash Museum, McKellar Lake, Discovery Trail, Pond Trail, Wildlife Trail, Graceland, Memphis
More information:
T.O. Fuller State Park | Tennessee State Parks (Reservations)

Go Camping in Tennessee Soon!

Tennessee is popular as a country music capital, but I hope this article has inspired you to go camping in Tennessee, especially in one of their many state parks.

As you’ve probably noticed, they are serious about their state parks; they’re important for conserving habitats, protecting wildlife, and preserving history.

Have you ever been to these sites? Did I miss an excellent campsite? Tell us in the comments!

Leave a Comment