Camping Tennessee: Top Spots for Outdoor Enthusiasts

Tennessee offers a diverse landscape and a wide range of camping experiences for outdoor enthusiasts. From the beautiful Great Smoky Mountains National Park to the serene lakes and rivers, campers can enjoy a variety of natural settings across the state. The state has numerous campgrounds and state parks, ensuring that visitors will always have a chance to find the perfect spot for their outdoor adventure.

Key Takeaways

  • Camping in Tennessee offers diverse landscapes and campsites for outdoor enthusiasts.
  • Visitors can choose from various camping styles, including tent sites, RV sites, and cabins.
  • Engaging in recreational activities like hiking, fishing, and wildlife viewing enriches the camping experience.

Camping Destinations in Tennessee

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the most visited national park in the United States, offering incredible scenic views and lush forests. Cosby Campground is a popular spot within the park that provides a more secluded experience compared to other campgrounds. It is still close enough to Gatlinburg for essentials like fuel and stores. With numerous tent and RV sites available, this is a must-visit destination for campers.

Fall Creek Falls State Park

Fall Creek Falls State Park is a magnificent park featuring towering waterfalls and rocky gorges. The park has various campgrounds offering tent and RV sites, as well as cabins for those seeking a more comfortable stay. Outdoor enthusiasts can indulge in activities like hiking, fishing, and bird watching within the park. Don’t miss the chance to visit the park’s namesake waterfall, which is the highest in the eastern United States.

Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area

Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area is perfect for those looking for adventure in the great outdoors. Campers can choose from backcountry camping sites, RV campgrounds, and equestrian campsites. The recreation area offers a multitude of activities like hiking, horseback riding, and rafting through its scenic canyons and gorges. The park is also known for its unique rock formations and natural sandstone arches.

Natchez Trace State Park

Natchez Trace State Park provides visitors with a diverse camping experience. Campgrounds offer tent sites, RV sites, and cabins, ensuring that there’s a camping option for everyone. The park is home to numerous lakes and over 40 miles of hiking trails, giving campers ample opportunity for fishing, boating, and exploring the park’s diverse landscapes. History enthusiasts will also appreciate the park’s connection to the historic Natchez Trace trail.

Types of Camping in Tennessee

Tennessee offers a variety of camping opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts. Whether you prefer sleeping under the stars in a tent or enjoying the comforts of an RV, you’ll find the perfect spot for your adventure. In this section, we’ll explore the different types of camping available in Tennessee, including tent camping, RV camping, backcountry camping, and cabin rentals.

Tent Camping

Tent camping is a popular way to experience the natural beauty of the state. Many campsites are available within Tennessee State Parks, such as Chickasaw and Natchez Trace. These campgrounds cater to various group sizes and offer amenities such as electric and water hookups for a comfortable stay. Some notable tent camping spots include:

  • Dale Hollow Dam Campground in Celina
  • Cosby Campground within the Great Smoky Mountains National Park

RV Camping

If you prefer to travel and camp with the convenience of a recreational vehicle (RV), Tennessee has many options for you. In addition to the RV-friendly campgrounds in state parks, private campgrounds offer numerous amenities tailored for RV visitors. Some top-rated RV parks in the state include:

  • Riveredge RV Park and Log Cabin Rentals
  • Anchor Down RV Resort
  • Pine Mountain RV Park
  • Pigeon Forge / Gatlinburg KOA Holiday
  • Clarksville RV Park and Campground

Backcountry Camping

For those seeking a more secluded and rugged experience, backcountry camping is available in areas such as the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the Cherokee National Forest. Permits may be required, and it’s essential to follow Leave No Trace principles when exploring these remote locations. Some locations suitable for backcountry camping:

  • The Great Smoky Mountains National Park
  • The Cherokee National Forest

Cabin Rentals

For those who desire the comforts of home while still experiencing Tennessee’s natural beauty, cabin rentals are an excellent option. Many state parks and private establishments offer cabin rentals that range from rustic to luxurious, accommodating various preferences and budgets. Some popular locations with cabin rentals include:

  • Riveredge RV Park and Log Cabin Rentals
  • Davy Crockett Campground
  • Natchez Trace State Park

In conclusion, Tennessee offers various camping options suited to the preferences of diverse outdoor enthusiasts. Whether you’re looking for a tent camping adventure, enjoying the comforts of an RV, seeking solitude in the backcountry, or renting a cozy cabin, Tennessee has something for everyone.

Camping Gear Checklist


When camping in Tennessee, it’s essential to have a reliable shelter. A tent is one of the most popular choices. Consider the size, weight, and weather resistance of your tent to ensure it meets your needs. Other shelter options include tarps, bivy sacks, or hammocks, depending on your preferences and the specific campsite you are at. Don’t forget to pack a ground cloth, tent stakes, and a mallet to secure your shelter.

Sleep System

A comfortable sleep system is vital for a good night’s rest. Choose a sleeping bag that meets the temperature rating appropriate for your camping season. Add a sleeping pad or a camping mattress for extra comfort and insulation from the cold ground. Bring a camping pillow or simply use a small packable pillow or rolled-up clothing for head support.


Pack clothing that is appropriate for the weather in Tennessee during your camping trip. This includes:

  • Lightweight, moisture-wicking layers for warmer temperatures
  • Insulated layers for cooler temperatures
  • Rain gear for unpredictable weather
  • Comfortable, closed-toed shoes or hiking boots
  • Socks, underwear, and sleepwear
  • Hat, sunglasses, and gloves if necessary

Kitchen Gear

Preparing meals at a campsite requires proper kitchen gear, such as:

  • A portable stove or cooking system suitable for your campsite
  • Fuel or propane canisters for the stove
  • Cooking utensils like pots, pans, spatulas, and tongs
  • Plates, bowls, cups, and utensils for eating
  • Sharp knife for preparing food
  • Portable cooler or icebox to store perishable items
  • Food storage containers or bags to keep your food fresh and organized

Safety and First Aid

Your Camping Gear Checklist wouldn’t be complete without safety and first aid items. These include:

  • A well-stocked first aid kit, including adhesive bandages, antiseptic wipes, and pain relievers
  • Sunscreen and bug repellent
  • Maps and a compass or GPS device to avoid getting lost
  • Headlamp or flashlight with extra batteries
  • Multi-tool or Swiss Army knife for quick repairs
  • Emergency whistle and signaling mirror for attracting attention in case of an emergency
  • Water filtration system or purification tablets to ensure you have clean drinking water

Make sure your camping gear is up to date and in good working condition before setting out on your Tennessee camping adventure. A thorough checklist ensures you and your fellow campers can enjoy a safe, comfortable, and memorable trip.

Tennessee’s Wildlife and Safety Tips

Wildlife to Watch

Tennessee is home to a diverse range of wildlife species that campers can observe while enjoying the great outdoors. Some of the more common animals found in the region include:

  • White-tailed deer: These graceful animals are frequent visitors to many Tennessee campgrounds and can often be spotted grazing in fields or browsing near forested areas.
  • Eastern wild turkey: You might catch sight of these elusive birds in Tennessee’s forests, feeding on insects, seeds, and small fruits.
  • Black bears: Specifically in the Great Smoky Mountains, you can encounter black bears. Remember always to keep a safe distance and never approach these wild animals.

In addition to these larger mammals, Tennessee is home to a variety of birds, reptiles, and smaller mammals that are equally intriguing to observe.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the best family-friendly campgrounds in Tennessee?

There are many family-friendly campgrounds in Tennessee, offering various amenities and activities for all ages. Some popular options include the Fall Creek Falls State Park, which features hiking trails, waterfalls, and playgrounds, and the David Crockett State Park, known for its historical significance and recreational activities like fishing and swimming.

Which Tennessee campgrounds offer full hookups?

If you’re looking for campgrounds with full hookups in Tennessee, consider visiting places like the Anchor Down RV Resort, which offers waterfront sites with stunning views, or the Two Rivers Landing RV Resort, providing amenities such as a pool, hot tub, and fitness center.

Where can I find the best RV camping options in Tennessee?

Tennessee has numerous RV camping options, from state parks to private campgrounds. Some top choices include the Pigeon Forge/Gatlinburg KOA, with its proximity to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and the Nashville Shores RV Resort, offering lakeside camping and access to a water park.

What are some top Tennessee state parks for camping?

Camping in Tennessee State Parks provides a unique and memorable experience. Some favorites for campers include the Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area, known for its scenic beauty and river-based activities, and the Norris Dam State Park, a popular destination for boating, fishing, and hiking.

Which campgrounds in Tennessee are near waterfalls?

Tennessee is home to several campgrounds near beautiful waterfalls. One such campground you can consider is the Old Stone Fort State Archaeological Park, which boasts picturesque waterfalls and historical significance. Another option is the Fall Creek Falls State Park, which offers one of the highest waterfalls in the eastern United States.