The Volunteer State, as Tennessee is often fondly called, is home to more than the nation’s country music capital.
This rugged state has plenty of beauty to show off, and one of the best ways to experience its raw beauty is by camping. A night spent outdoors with stars twinkling above one’s head is also a fantastic way to reconnect with nature and to let go of everyday stress.
Tennessee boasts of numerous state parks, most of which have camping grounds. The parks tend to be near natural attractions like lakes, mountains, and falls. You can, therefore, explore all the beauty that nature has to offer without worrying about where you will sleep.
Whether you like RV camping, setting up your tent, or staying in log cabins during your commune with nature, Tennessee has it all.
10 Best Camping Sites in Tennessee:
- Natchez Trace State Park
- Percy Priest Island Camping – Best for Kids
- Fall Creek Falls State Park
- Cosby Campground
- Savage Gulf – Best for Hiking
- Cades Cove
- Edgar Evins State Park
- LeConte Lodge – Best Camping in Tennessee in Winter
- Harrison Bay State Park – Best for GOLF lovers
- The Walls of Jericho Primitive Camping
Where can I camp for free in Tennessee?
There are numerous free camping spots and campgrounds in Tennessee. The most popular free camps in Tennessee are Jackson Island, Cane Hollow Recreation Area, and Rhea Springs Recreation Area.
What is the largest state park in Tennessee?
Fall Creek Falls State Park is the largest state park in Tennessee with more than 29,800 acres around Cumberland Plateau. It’s also the most visited and most favorite camping spot in Tennessee among the locals or visitors.
Can you go camping during COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic in Tennessee?
Yes, you can go camping during the COVID-19 pandemic in Tennessee. As of MAY 15th state park’s campgrounds in Tennessee are re-open (source). Also, National Park campgrounds and TVAs campgrounds are re-open (source) (source).
Here are the best camping sites in Tennessee state:
1. Natchez Trace State Park
- horseback riding and hiking.
Natchez Trace State Park is a popular camping destination for locals and visitors alike.
Located on the western side of the Volunteer State, it boasts of proximity to four lakes, a beach, and a wrangler campsite. If you enjoy water activities, this is undoubtedly the site for you.
Natchez Trace park is a great place to make lifelong memories with your family and friends.
The park has 206 campsites and five cabins. There is even a wrangler site for the horse lovers. All of these sites have a fire ring, grill, and table, but that is as far as the amenities go.
If you are looking for a challenging camping experience, you can go backcountry camping within the park’s 10,154 acres. You will, however, need a permit for this. For your daring spirit, you will be rewarded with stretches of pristine, untouched wilderness where you can truly become one with nature.
2. Percy Priest Island Camping – Best for Kids
EAST TENNESSEE CAMPING
Address: 3778 Bell Rd, Hermitage, TN 37076 (click to open in google maps)
Activities at the lake:
- lots of hiking options,
- biking trails,
- cliff jumps,
- swimming beaches,
- primitive camping,
- playgrounds for kids,
- or fishing.
One of the most unique camping spots in Tennessee is the Percy Priest Lake, which is only a short distance from Nashville.
The lake is formed by the J Percy Priest Dam and boasts of over 30 islands. Each of these islands has a camping ground that has a lot to offer to every type of camper.
The islands also have lengthy hiking trails that allow you to see the beauty of the area in all its glory. If you want an exhilarating adventure, got for a famous 40-feet cliffs jump! 🙂
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It’s an exciting experience that you will likely remember for decades to come. In the evenings, you can watch breathtaking sunsets before you settle in for the night.
If you love a good challenge, you ought to try camping in the primitive sites on the Anderson Road camping ground. The 36 campsites on the grounds have hardly any amenities, which means that you will have to fetch water and light your fire. This site is ideal for a hands-on camper.
Other nearby camping grounds are the 7-Point Camping Ground with 60 campsites and Poole Knobs Camping Ground with 88 campsites. Most offer both tent sites and RV sites.
One of the best ways to explore the Islands is to spend a day in the Hole-in-the-Wall Island. This is a protected cove that has a lot of exciting features and sites.
If you enjoy solitude, spend a night or two at the Luau Island, which only has five tents. It’s one of the most exclusive camping sites.
3. Fall Creek Falls State Park
EAST TENNESSEE CAMPING
- bird watching,
- golf course,
- biking and hiking trails.
Despite its redundant name, the Fall Creeks Falls Park is a priceless gem for campers in Tennessee.
It’s one of the largest camping sites in the state, with 222 standard sites, three backcountry sites, and 16 primitive sites. Its immense popularity goes to show just how amazing a camping destination it is.
The Fall Creek Falls are by far the greatest attraction to this site. They are enormous, mighty, and utterly astounding, and just a stone throw’s away from the site. The 250-feet drop is enough to steal your breath in the most mesmerizing way.
Apart from the falls, there are lengthy biking and hiking trails for you to explore. Bring your mountain bike for the adventure, and cycle the 24-mile long biking trail for an unforgettable experience.
You can even go fishing or bird-watching. If you enjoy golf, there is an 18-hole golf course within the park. After an activity-packed day, return to your camp for an evening of star-gazing and pure relaxation.
4. Cosby Campground
EAST TENNESSEE CAMPING
- plenty of options for hiking,
- wildlife watching,
- bear-watching 🙂
Cosby Campground is a little-known campsite in a secluded region. If you don’t like crowded camping grounds like the Great Smoky Mountains National Park (which attracted over 11 million campers in 2017), then you will undoubtedly love the Cosby Campground.
Don’t mistake its seclusion for lack of scenic beauty; there is a lot to see and do near the Cosby campsite.
You can hike to the Hen Wallow Falls, where you will be rewarded with a picturesque view and beautiful sites. You can also go to the nearby Sutton Ridge Overlook for more sight-seeing of the gorgeous terrain.
For a more daring venture, try hiking the 10.6 miles trail up to the Mt Cammerer Fire Tower. Reaching the top of the mountain is very fulfilling, and the view of the state from above is to die for. You can also take the dip to the Trail-Snake Den Trail Loop for an even more exciting venture.
The campground has 157 sites, each with a picnic table and a fire grate. You can also go backcountry camping for something more demanding.
5. Savage Gulf – Best for Hiking
Phone: (931) 779-3532 (click to call)
Address: Savage Gulf State Natural Area, 3177 TN-399, Palmer, TN 37365 (click to open in google maps)
Activities that Savage Gulf offers:
- hiking paradise for beginners,
- advanced hiking options,
The Savage Gulf is as harsh and rough as its name suggests. It’s an ideal camping ground for backpackers who can conveniently set up a tent at any of the nine campsites within the field.
There is a lot to see and do in the 16,000 acres of the Cumberland Plateau. From suspension bridges to waterfalls to the wilderness that spreads as far as the eye can see, the Gulf has it all.
There are 50 miles of hiking trails for you to discover. Most of them are about nine to ten miles long, which is excellent for beginners. If you are an experienced hiker, however, you can also go on the longer and more difficult hikes.
Other attractions near the campsite include the Big Creek, Greeter Falls, and the Stone Door. Of these, the Stone Door, which is a 100 feet deep, 10 feet wide crack through a rock, is the most intriguing.
6. Cades Cove
- accessible all year round,
- plenty of waterfalls,
- historical buildings,
- swimming etc.
If you wish to camp within the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, one of the best car camping grounds is the Cades Cove.
It’s highly accessible throughout the year and offers incredible views of the mountains.
The camping ground has 160 different camping sites. RVs and trailers are also allowed on the grounds, although you will first have to check that yours is the right size for the campground. There are no hookups available for RVs, although there is a dump station.
The greatest attraction to the Cades Cove is the mountains. You get an unobstructed view of the rugged Smoky mountains, and you can take it all in at this secluded camping ground.
The Cade Cove Valley is also a great place to explore. Here, you will find structures with a rich history like the John Cable Grist Mill or the John Oliver Cabin.
You should also make a point to trekking the 5 miles to the Abrams Falls, whose might and power will leave you refreshed and rejuvenated.
7. Edgar Evins State Park
Phone: (931) 646-3080 (click to call)
Address: 1630 Edgar Evins State Park Rd, Silver Point, TN 38582 (click to open in google maps)
Activities and highlights:
- kayaking and boat riding,
- stand up paddling,
- events & festivals,
- cabin options,
The Edgar Evins State Park boasts of proximity to the Center Hill Lake, which is the primary attraction to this camping ground.
Thanks to the lake, you can enjoy a wide range of activities such as boating, swimming, paddling, and even kayaking.
The camping ground has 60 campsites, which include tents, RV, and trailers. Some amenities that are available within the campground are flush toilets and bathrooms with hot showers in three different locations.
You can also get wooden tent platforms and hooks if you need them.
Additionally, there are over 30 cabins with different layouts. Whether you want a full kitchen or a cozy sleeping place, rest assured you will get just the right cabin.
8. LeConte Lodge – Best Camping Spot in Tennessee in Winter
- cool cabins,
- well-maintained hike trails,
- dining options,
- heating available in the winter season.
This quiet lodge on the slopes of Mt. LeConte is yet another attractive camping ground.
Although it is one of the coziest camping grounds within the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, you will have to earn all the comforts it has to offer. The only way to access the lodge is by hiking up to the top.
There are about five different hiking trails to the lodge ranging in length from 5.5 to 8 miles. As you trek up the path, you get to see the immense beauty that the nearby scenery has to offer. The Lodge is 6,400 feet above sea level, so the view from the top is mind-blowing.
You will spend the night in a handmade log cabin, taking in the magnificent views around you and having a great time.
Dinner is usually a jovial affair, and the hearty meals you will enjoy will be the perfect climax to a beautiful day.
9. Harrison Bay State Park – Best for GOLF lovers
- boating and swimming,
- standup paddle,
- great golf course etc.
This state park is near Chickamauga Lake, which is why it an excellent destination for those who like water sports.
Whether you prefer fishing, boating, swimming, or paddling, the 60-mile long lake is a great place to indulge in your favorite activity. You can also relax by its shores, looking at the serene waters and having a lovely time.
If you like playing golf, you can go to the nearby Bear trace at Harrison Bay, a popular golf course that was designed by the legendary Jack Nicklaus.
The campground has 128 RV sites and 27 campsites. All the RVs have hookups, which is rather convenient.
Whether you prefer a tent or a vehicle, rest assured you will find the right accommodation option.
10. The Walls of Jericho Primitive Camping – Best tent camping in Tennessee
- 3.5 miles hike,
- tent camping spots.
This campground has an intriguing name and an equally fascinating story behind it.
A story is told of a 17th Century preacher who was so moved by the rugged beauty of the place that he named it The Wall of Jericho. He performed his baptisms in the area and the name stuck since then.
It’s easy to see why the area is so inspiring. The canyon, river, and waterfalls that surround the camping ground give it a magical feel, and you too will feel stirred after hiking through the 7-mile trail in this camping destination.
Camping here is not for the faint-hearted; this is a primitive camping only site, so be ready to use all your survival skills. The only amenities you should expect are two fire pits.
However, finding a good tree to hang a hammock or clothesline should not be a difficult task.
The Volunteer State truly lives up to its generous reputation when it comes to camping options.
There are a lot of camping sites throughout the state, and each has something unique to offer.
From RV sites to tents to lodges and cabins, accommodation options in the area are also unlimited. If you truly wish to explore Tennessee, pack up your bags, and go camping.
It’s the best way to see all the magnificent sites the state has to offer.