Woods, Waterfalls, and Wilderness – Top 10 Best Camping Spots in Tennessee

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Venture into the untamed beauty of Tennessee and experience some of the most breathtaking camping spots in the country. From towering waterfalls to dense forests and serene lakes, the Volunteer State offers a diverse range of natural landscapes for outdoor enthusiasts to explore. Whether you’re a seasoned camper or a first-timer, these top 10 camping spots in Tennessee are guaranteed to provide an unforgettable adventure in the great outdoors.

Discover the hidden gems of Tennessee as we guide you through the best camping spots, each with its own unique charm and natural wonders. From the rugged trails of Great Smoky Mountains National Park to the tranquil shores of Reelfoot Lake, there’s something for every camping enthusiast in this scenic state. So, pack your gear and get ready to embark on an unforgettable journey through the woods, waterfalls, and wilderness of Tennessee.


Key Takeaways:

  • Diverse Landscapes: Tennessee offers a wide range of camping experiences, from wooded forests to breathtaking waterfalls to rugged wilderness.
  • Top 10 Best Camping Spots: The article highlights the ten best camping spots in Tennessee, providing options for campers of all interests and skill levels.
  • Natural Beauty: Each camping spot offers stunning natural beauty, from towering trees to sparkling rivers to panoramic mountain views.
  • Outdoor Activities: Campers can partake in a variety of outdoor activities, including hiking, fishing, wildlife viewing, and photography.
  • Camping Amenities: Many of the featured camping spots offer amenities such as restroom facilities, picnic areas, and designated campsites for tents and RVs.
  • Seasonal Considerations: The article discusses the best times of year to visit each camping spot, taking into account weather, wildlife, and potential crowds.
  • Planning Tips: Campers are provided with helpful tips for planning their trip, including reservation information, safety guidelines, and packing recommendations.

Great Smoky Mountains

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a true gem in the state of Tennessee, offering breathtaking landscapes, diverse wildlife, and numerous camping opportunities. With over 800 miles of trails, cascading waterfalls, and old-growth forests, it is no wonder that the Great Smoky Mountains is one of the most visited national parks in the United States.

Elkmont Campground

Great Smoky Mountains’ Elkmont Campground is a popular choice for campers looking to experience the beauty of the park. Nestled in the heart of the forest, the campground offers pristine campsites with easy access to hiking trails and scenic views. It is the perfect base camp for those looking to explore the wonders of the Great Smoky Mountains.

Cades Cove

Cades Cove is another must-visit destination within the Great Smoky Mountains. This picturesque valley is surrounded by mountains and is known for its abundant wildlife, historic buildings, and stunning meadows. The campground in Cades Cove provides a rare opportunity to camp within the confines of the valley, offering a truly immersive nature experience.

Cove Camping: While camping in Cades Cove, visitors can expect to encounter a variety of wildlife, including deer, black bears, and wild turkeys. The peaceful atmosphere and scenic beauty of the valley make it a top choice for nature enthusiasts and photographers alike.

Fall Creek Falls

Obviously, no list of the top camping spots in Tennessee is complete without mentioning Fall Creek Falls. This stunning state park is home to the tallest waterfall in the eastern United States, making it a must-see for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts.

Fall Creek Campground

Fall Creek Campground is the perfect base for exploring the natural beauty of Fall Creek Falls. Situated near the waterfall, this campground offers convenient access to hiking trails, fishing spots, and breathtaking views. The campground features modern amenities such as showers, restrooms, and electric hookups, making it ideal for both tent camping and RV camping.

Piney Campground

Creek Piney Campground is another fantastic option for camping near Fall Creek Falls. Located on the banks of scenic Piney Creek, this campground offers a more secluded and rustic camping experience surrounded by lush forests and peaceful waterways. Campers can enjoy the beauty of nature while still having access to essential amenities such as restrooms and picnic areas.

A short drive from Fall Creek Falls, Piney Campground is the perfect choice for those seeking a tranquil and serene camping experience surrounded by Tennessee’s natural beauty. Whether you’re looking to fish in Piney Creek or explore the miles of hiking trails nearby, this campground offers a true escape into the wilderness.

Big South Fork

Despite being lesser known compared to other camping spots in Tennessee, Big South Fork is a hidden gem for outdoor enthusiasts. This national recreation area offers breathtaking views of the Cumberland Plateau, spectacular gorges, and miles of hiking trails for visitors to explore.

Bandy Creek Campground

An ideal base for exploring Big South Fork, Bandy Creek Campground provides peaceful and scenic camp spots for visitors. With over 180 campsites equipped with amenities such as electric hookups and bathroom facilities, campers can enjoy the convenience of modern camping while still being immersed in the wilderness of the area. The campground also offers easy access to hiking and horseback riding trails, as well as opportunities for fishing and paddling in the nearby rivers and streams.

Blue Heron Campground

Any camper looking for a unique experience should consider setting up camp at Blue Heron Campground. Nestled along the Big South Fork River, this campground provides stunning views and a peaceful ambiance. With only 45 campsites, it offers a more intimate setting for those seeking a quieter and more secluded camping experience. Campers can also explore the nearby Blue Heron Mining Community, a historic site that provides a glimpse into the area’s rich history.

To fully experience the beauty of Big South Fork, make sure to explore the various hiking trails that lead to scenic overlooks and stunning waterfalls. Keep an eye out for the famous Twin Arches, a unique geological formation that is a must-see for any nature enthusiast.

Roan Mountain

Unlike other camping spots in Tennessee, Roan Mountain offers a unique experience for outdoor enthusiasts. Located in the Cherokee National Forest, Roan Mountain is known for its breathtaking views, abundant wildlife, and diverse landscape. Whether you are an experienced hiker or a casual camper, Roan Mountain has something for everyone.

Roan High Bluff

The Roan High Bluff section of Roan Mountain is particularly popular among hikers and photographers. The stunning cliffs offer panoramic views of the surrounding valleys and mountains, making it an ideal spot for nature lovers. The diverse flora and fauna add to the appeal, with the opportunity to spot rare species of wildflowers and birds.

Carver’s Gap

Bluff your way through the rugged trails of Carver’s Gap, where you will be greeted with some of the most dramatic landscapes in the area. The rocky terrain and challenging hikes are rewarded with breathtaking views of the Roan Highlands and the Appalachian Trail. Camping at Carver’s Gap is an opportunity to immerse yourself in the wilderness and experience the true beauty of Tennessee.

High altitude camping at Carver’s Gap provides a unique perspective of the surrounding mountain ranges. The cool temperatures and crisp air make it an ideal escape from the summer heat, and the clear night skies offer spectacular stargazing opportunities.

Cherokee National Forest

Your camping adventure in Tennessee would be incomplete without a visit to the Cherokee National Forest. This magnificent forest is home to some of the most breathtaking camping spots in the state. With its rolling hills, lush forests, and cascading waterfalls, it’s no wonder that the Cherokee National Forest is a favorite among outdoor enthusiasts. For more information about the best camping spots near Nashville, check out Best Camping Near Nashville: Most Beautiful Spots for …

Indian Boundary

For those seeking a tranquil camping experience, Indian Boundary is the perfect choice. This serene campground is nestled amidst towering trees and offers easy access to hiking trails, fishing spots, and serene lake views. Whether you’re pitching a tent or parking your RV, Indian Boundary provides a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

Horse Creek Campground

For a more adventurous camping experience, Horse Creek Campground is the ideal destination. This picturesque campground is situated along the banks of a flowing creek, offering stunning views and the soothing sounds of nature. With access to excellent fishing and hiking opportunities, this campground is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts.

The Horse Creek Campground is a popular choice for those seeking a more primitive camping experience. With limited amenities, this campground is best suited for experienced campers who are comfortable with a more rugged environment. However, the lack of modern facilities is more than made up for by the spectacular natural surroundings and unparalleled sense of seclusion that this campground offers.

Norris Dam State Park

Keep in mind that Norris Dam State Park is one of the top camping spots in Tennessee. This beautiful state park is located just 25 miles north of Knoxville and offers a fantastic outdoor experience for nature lovers and adventure seekers alike. With its stunning views, diverse wildlife, and recreational activities, Norris Dam State Park is a must-visit destination for camping enthusiasts.

West Campground

An ideal spot for camping, the West Campground at Norris Dam State Park offers spacious and well-maintained campsites that are perfect for both tents and RVs. Additionally, the campground provides easy access to the hiking trails, picnic areas, and fishing opportunities, making it a convenient and exciting choice for nature enthusiasts. Whether you’re a seasoned camper or a beginner, the West Campground at Norris Dam State Park is sure to fulfill your camping needs.

East Campground

With its scenic views and proximity to the Norris Dam and Norris Lake, the East Campground is a popular choice for campers seeking a serene and relaxing experience. The campground’s proximity to the water makes it an excellent choice for water activities such as boating and fishing. For instance, campers can enjoy the convenience of boat ramps and a swimming area, enhancing their overall camping experience.

Reelfoot Lake

To experience the stunning beauty of Reelfoot Lake, you should visit one of the 8 of the Best Waterfront Campsites in Tennessee. The lake, located in the northwest corner of Tennessee, was formed by a series of earthquakes in the early 19th century. The result is a natural paradise that is home to a diverse range of wildlife and plants.

South Campground

Any camping enthusiast should consider pitching a tent at the South Campground. The sites here offer an incredible view of the lake, making them perfect for nature lovers. Surrounded by the tranquil sounds of wildlife and gently lapping water, visitors will find it easy to relax and recharge in this serene setting.

For those seeking a peaceful wilderness experience, the South Campground is a must-visit. With several amenities and proximity to the water, this camping spot offers the best of both worlds for outdoor enthusiasts. Be mindful of wildlife including snakes and mosquitoes, and always keep food properly stored to avoid attracting any unwanted attention from animals.

Airpark Campground

One of the most unique camping spots at Reelfoot Lake is the Airpark Campground. This area was once an airfield, and as a result, it provides a spacious and open setting for campers. The sites here offer easy access to the water and are ideal for those looking to explore the lake by boat or kayak.

Campground visitors can enjoy stunning views of the sunset over the water and the sounds of nature all around them. It’s important to note that while this campground offers a fantastic and open setting, it may lack the shade and privacy provided by other areas around the lake. Be sure to come prepared for sun exposure and potential lack of privacy.

Savage Gulf

For adventurers seeking a true wilderness experience, Savage Gulf is the ultimate camping destination in Tennessee. With its rugged terrain, scenic waterfalls, and diverse wildlife, this 15,590-acre natural area offers a pristine and unspoiled camping experience.

Stone Door Campground

Gulf carved by the raging waters of the Collins River, Stone Door Campground offers breathtaking views of the surrounding cliffs and rock formations. Set up your tent amid the stunning rock formations and lush greenery and experience the raw beauty of Savage Gulf firsthand. Be sure to explore the famous Stone Door, a 10-foot wide by 100-foot deep crack in the rock that offers a jaw-dropping overlook of the gulf below.

Alum Gap Campsite

On the eastern edge of Savage Gulf, Alum Gap Campsite provides hikers with a convenient and secluded place to rest and rejuvenate. The campsite is situated at the trailhead of the popular Alum Gap Trail, which leads to some of the most breathtaking waterfalls and panoramic views in the entire natural area.

For instance, don’t miss the opportunity to hike to the remote and tranquil Collins Gulf Overlook, where you can enjoy a spectacular view of Collins River far below.

Natchez Trace State Park

Located in western Tennessee, Natchez Trace State Park is a sprawling natural area that offers a variety of camping opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts. The park is named after an ancient trail that once connected the southern part of the Mississippi River to central Tennessee, and it is home to dense forests, serene lakes, and scenic waterfalls.

Cub Lake Campground

An ideal camping spot within Natchez Trace State Park is the Cub Lake Campground. Nestled among the trees, this campground offers a tranquil atmosphere and easy access to the beautiful Cub Lake. The campground provides facilities for both tent and RV camping, with amenities such as picnic tables, fire rings, and clean restrooms. Campers can also enjoy recreational activities such as fishing, boating, and hiking along the scenic nature trails.

Pin Oak Lake

For those seeking a more secluded camping experience, Pin Oak Lake within Natchez Trace State Park is the perfect destination. The campground is situated near a picturesque lake, providing campers with stunning views and a peaceful ambiance. With its well-maintained campsites and proximity to the water, Pin Oak Lake campground is an excellent choice for nature lovers looking to escape the hustle and bustle of city life.

To enhance your camping experience at Pin Oak Lake, consider renting a kayak or canoe to explore the tranquil waters or spending a leisurely day fishing for bass and catfish. Whether you prefer to lounge by the shoreline or embark on a scenic hike, Pin Oak Lake offers something for every outdoor enthusiast.

Edgar Evins State Park

Unlike other crowded camping spots in Tennessee, Edgar Evins State Park offers a serene and unspoiled wilderness experience. Located on the shores of Center Hill Lake, this state park is a popular destination for campers and outdoor enthusiasts looking to immerse themselves in nature.

Primitive Campsites

One of the main attractions of Edgar Evins State Park is its primitive campsites, which offer a truly immersive experience in the heart of nature. These sites are located deep within the woods, providing campers with a sense of seclusion and tranquility. Each site is equipped with a fire ring and a picnic table, allowing campers to enjoy the simple pleasures of outdoor cooking and dining. The primitive campsites at Edgar Evins State Park are perfect for those seeking a back-to-basics camping experience.

Cabin Area Campsites

State-of-the-art cabins with modern amenities are available at Edgar Evins State Park for those campers who wish to enjoy the comforts of home while surrounded by nature. The cabin area campsites offer a unique blend of convenience and natural beauty, providing campers with comfortable accommodations just a stone’s throw away from the breathtaking waterfall and hiking trails. This option is ideal for families or groups looking for a comfortable camping experience without sacrificing access to outdoor activities.

Campsites in the cabin area come with easy access to the park’s amenities, including restrooms, showers, and a camp store for any last-minute supplies. Whether you prefer camping under the stars in a primitive campsite or relaxing in a cozy cabin by the lake, Edgar Evins State Park has something for every nature lover.

With its picturesque lake, diverse wildlife, and abundance of outdoor activities, Edgar Evins State Park is a must-visit destination for camping enthusiasts in Tennessee.


With this in mind, Tennessee offers some of the most breathtaking camping spots in the country, with its vast forests, stunning waterfalls, and unspoiled wilderness. Whether you are a seasoned camper or a beginner looking for a new adventure, the top 10 best camping spots in Tennessee provide a unique and memorable experience for everyone.

From the Great Smoky Mountains to the banks of the Cumberland River, these camping spots offer a variety of landscapes and activities for outdoor enthusiasts to enjoy. Whether you prefer hiking through wooded trails, swimming in clear mountain streams, or simply sitting by the campfire and enjoying the peace and quiet, Tennessee’s camping spots have something for everyone. So pack your gear, grab your friends and family, and head to one of these top 10 camping spots in Tennessee for an unforgettable outdoor adventure.


Q: What are the top 10 best camping spots in Tennessee for enjoying woods, waterfalls, and wilderness?

A: The top 10 best camping spots in Tennessee for enjoying woods, waterfalls, and wilderness are:
1. Great Smoky Mountains National Park
2. Fall Creek Falls State Park
3. Frozen Head State Park
4. Cherokee National Forest
5. Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area
6. Natchez Trace State Park
7. Savage Gulf State Natural Area
8. Obed Wild and Scenic River
9. South Cumberland State Park
10. Big Ridge State Park

Q: What are the best activities to enjoy while camping in Tennessee?

A: While camping in Tennessee, you can enjoy activities such as hiking, birdwatching, fishing, swimming, wildlife viewing, photography, and nature walks. Additionally, some camping spots offer opportunities for rock climbing, kayaking, and canoeing.

Q: Are there any rules and regulations for camping in Tennessee’s wilderness areas?

A: Yes, there are rules and regulations for camping in Tennessee’s wilderness areas. These may include reservation requirements, permits for backcountry camping, restrictions on campfires, waste disposal guidelines, and wildlife interaction protocols. It is important to familiarize yourself with the specific rules and regulations of the camping spot you choose to visit.

Q: What should I pack for a camping trip in Tennessee?

A: When camping in Tennessee, it is important to pack essential items such as a tent, sleeping bag, camping stove, food, water, clothing suitable for the weather, insect repellent, first aid kit, and any necessary camping permits or reservations. Additionally, you may want to bring hiking boots, binoculars, a camera, and a map or GPS device.

Q: Can I bring my pet with me while camping in Tennessee?

A: Many camping spots in Tennessee allow pets, but it is important to check the specific pet policies of the campground you plan to visit. Some areas may have restrictions on pet access to trails or wildlife habitats, and there may be leash requirements and waste disposal rules to follow.

Q: What are the best times of year to go camping in Tennessee?

A: The best times of year to go camping in Tennessee are typically in the spring and fall, when the weather is mild and the landscape is lush and colorful. Summer can be hot and crowded in popular camping areas, while winter may bring cold temperatures and limited amenities at some campgrounds.

Q: How can I make the most of my camping experience in Tennessee’s woods, waterfalls, and wilderness?

A: To make the most of your camping experience in Tennessee, take time to explore the natural beauty of the area, go on hikes to see waterfalls and scenic overlooks, and immerse yourself in the sights and sounds of the wilderness. Be respectful of the environment and wildlife, practice Leave No Trace principles, and enjoy the peaceful serenity that camping in Tennessee has to offer.


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