Where to Go Camping in Tennessee

Enjoy the great outdoors with a camping trip in Tennessee
Enjoy the great outdoors with a camping trip in Tennessee | © Bill Gozansky / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Nick Dauk
10 August 2021
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As the spiritual home of country music, Tennessee has a deep connection to the outdoors. From the Great Smoky Mountains in the east to the Mississippi River in the west, you’re never far from a natural beauty spot – even in the heart of its cities. So pack up your bedroll, sling your banjo in the back of the pick-up and get ready to experience camping in Tennessee.

Tracy City

Architectural Landmark
A picnic bench at Bear Creek Lake State Park sits next to a placid lake, sheltered by broadleaved trees and backlit by the rising sun.
© Samuel Ray / Alamy Stock Photo
A tackle box, a sturdy rod, and a pair of waders are mandatory when camping in Tracy City. This town in east Tennessee, veined with creeks, is an angler’s paradise. And there’s plenty else to lure you to the area even if you aren’t ready to reel. The hiking trails around South Cumberland State Park will shower you with waterfall backdrops, while rock climbing and cave exploring will show you the South Cumberland Plateau from every angle.

Cove Creek Forest

Camping
What better way to feel rejuvenated than by spending a couple of nights on a regenerative farm? This private mountain hideaway is just a 10-minute drive into Tracy City (and steps from the car parking, to save you lugging your gear cross-country), but it still feels wonderfully secluded and is surrounded by tonnes of trails to tackle. Before settling into your pre-pitched Tentrr tent and striking a flame in the firepit, pick up some fresh pork chops from the farm.

Englewood

Architectural Landmark
Scenic view of Whiteside Mountain in the Nantahala National Forest between Highlands and Cashiers, North Carolina. (USA)
© Allen Creative / Steve Allen / Alamy Stock Photo
If you’re looking for somewhere that hits the sweet spot between backcountry and big city, Englewood is hard to beat. Only minutes from Knoxville and Chattanooga, as well as the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Nantahala National Forest, you can spend the weekend wining and dining on amazing southern grub in the cities, while getting your fill of the starry Tennessee sky – not to mention fishing in the numerous rivers, lakes, and creeks – from any of the great campsites found close by.

Olde English Farm Tent 1

Camping
Olde English Farm Tent 1 set up on a wooden platform with a firepit in front and a wooden toilet cubicle to the right
Courtesy of Olde English Farm Tent 1 / Expedia
In the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, within the borders of the Cherokee National Forest, this adorable little campsite is tailor-made for fishing enthusiasts (and first-timers!). You’ll have drive-up access to your pitch, complete with a pre-erected tent, picnic benches, Adirondack chairs, and a wood-burning stove. You’ll wake to the sound of spring-fed creeks babbling close by, while a fishing pond stocked with bass and bluegill is a peaceful place to spend an afternoon angling. First-timers can even borrow a fishing kit!

Farner

Architectural Landmark
A perfect sunny day standing on the riverbed looking downstream on the Hiwassee river in Tennessee with a fly fisherman in the disappearing background
© Sandra Burm / Alamy Stock Photo
Practically straddling the North Carolina-Tennessee border, Farner is a lovely country bumpkin basecamp, perfect for a bit of dual-state exploration. Pick a campsite by the Hiwassee River and let your line linger in the water for perch, largemouth bass, and rainbow trout, or head upstream in chase of the waterfalls found along the hiking trails. After a fall day in the great outdoors, get your fill of Tennessee whiskey and proper BBQ in one of the many cute border towns found dotted around these parts.

Hiwassee Hideout

Camping
Hiwassee Hideout safari tent on a wooden platform with two wooden deck chairs out front
Courtesy of Hiwassee Hideout / Expedia
The owners of Hiwassee Hideout are keen for their visitors (or wilderness citizens, as they refer to them) to rock up, log off and get back to nature. If that sounds like you, you’ll get along just swell with the board games, books, and sturdy Adirondack chairs set out for your arrival. That’s not to say you can’t get active, too – ATV riding, hiking trails, fishing, mountain biking, and more are all within reach via a private entrance to the Cherokee National Forest.

Old Stone Fort

Park
Side view of a waterfall at Old Stone Fort State Archaeological Park
© Jacob Day / Alamy Stock Photo
Admired for its beauty and used for its natural resources for nearly 2,000 years, Old Stone Fort State Archaeological Park is a summer destination with a fascinating historical twist. The main trail leads to an incredible view of the sun rising over the horizon during the summer solstice. But visit in the shoulder months, and the views are just as spectacular – with thousands of birds migrating to the area, and spring and fall bringing blossom and burnished tones to the surrounding forests.

Whooping Crane Farm

Camping
A whooping crane standing still on wetland at Whooping Crane Farm
© Tom Stack / Alamy Stock Photo
So close to Nashville (that you can practically hear banjos twanging in the distance), Whooping Crane Farm is a dreamy riverside hangout. While the farm’s namesake cranes and other native birds are the only ones allowed to take a dip in the river, you can rent a kayak from your hosts to get a better view of magnificent bald eagles flying above. This active farm supplies tents, beds, and other essentials, as well as the soothing soundtrack of cows in the adjacent pasture.

Whitwell

Architectural Landmark
Dig up the mining history of Whitwell at the Coal Miners Museum and you’ll gain a new appreciation for its gorgeous green spaces. Less than an hour’s drive from Chattanooga and the Georgia state border, Whitwell is planted between Cumberland State Park and North Chickamauga Creek Gorge State Park. You’ll find miles of trail, wide-open meadows, caves, canyons, and more on both sides of the Sequatchie River, making your options for camping all the more accessible.

The Pepoon at Camp Chet

Camping

Prefer an RV to roughing it? Roll into Camp Chet and park beside The Pepoon cabin. The 650 acres (263ha) of private Tennessee forest have a few gems to hunt for, including old coal mines and a small cemetery. You’ll need to come prepared with your own water and to share the outhouse with a couple of neighboring cabins. Or, trade the cabin cot for a pop-up tent and spend at least one night staring up at the stars.

Sevierville

Architectural Landmark
Aerial shot of Pigeon Forge and the Great Smoky mountains in the background
© Kruck20 / Alamy Stock Photo
Start your tour of the Great Smoky Mountains in Sevierville. No matter if you’re on horseback, an ATV, in a kayak, or just a pair of sturdy boots, you’ll have no trouble finding the perfect spot to view the green and blue-tinted mountains kissing the sky. With family activities such as theme parks nearby and the chill city of Knoxville only a few miles away, Sevierville is a camping lover’s getaway that offers the best of both worlds.

Hunkerdown Hollow

Camping
Hunkerdown Hollow safari tent on a wooden platform with two wooden deck chairs out front and a wooden picnic bench to the right
Courtesy of Hunkerdown Hollow / Expedia
Surrounded on three sides by the waters of Douglas Lake, this private peninsula campsite couldn’t be more perfect for a weekend of fishing. Drop your bags in the stylish pre-pitched Tentrr tend, and flop back onto the queen bed. Once you’ve settled in, gear up for a spot of angling in one of the quiet coves, or pull on your hiking boots and set off to explore the network of nearby trails leading up into the Great Smoky Mountains.

Lynnville

Architectural Landmark

With fewer than 60 buildings, the pint-sized village of Lynnville is a quaint oasis among the Tennessee trees. Its historic downtown features a theater, railroad museum, and a few spots to grab a bite, offering a laid-back rest stop as you make your way to and from the nearby campsites.

Southport Cave

Camping

This backcountry campsite is as nearly as barebones as it was when Davy Crockett visited way back in the 1800s, to mine saltpeter from the nearby namesake cave. A fire pit, outhouse, picnic table, and benches are the only additions that the Civil War-era hikers wouldn’t have had when bedding down in this shady woodland clearing. Old dates and names fill the cave, immersing you in both nature and history.

Cedars of Lebanon

Natural Feature
A line of class A RVs, in Cedars of Lebanon State Park campground, on a rainy day.
© RidingMetaphor / Alamy Stock Photo
The toasty aroma of red cedar trees, warmed up in the afternoon sun, is one of life’s great simple pleasures. And in Cedars of Lebanon State Park, the air is thick with it. And once you’ve stopped to take in some big lungfuls, it’s time to hit the hiking trails, disc golf courses, swimming pools, and riding stables that encircle the campground. Best of all, Cedars of Lebanon is only a few miles from Nashville, offering an easy escape to the city if you get to missing the hustle and bustle.

Drive-Up Meadow Site

Camping

Make your doggy road trip truly unforgettable at this drive-up campsite. You’ll love running together across a two-acre (0.8ha) meadow full of wildflowers. Strap on a leash and hike the dog-friendly, well-maintained trails. This backcountry site for four is as wifi-friendly as it is pet-friendly, just in case you want to stay minimally connected to the outside world. Once you unpack the pop-up tent, though, we have a feeling your phone will stay in your backpack.

Natchez Trace

Natural Feature
A dirt road travels the length of a field border by a split rail fence along the Natchez Trace parkway in Mississippi
© Dee Browning / Alamy Stock Photo
Planning to camp in Natchez Trace State Park? Then you’d better lace up your hiking boots. The Old Natchez Trace historic forest trail will take you from Nashville all the way to Natchez, Mississippi if you’ve got the footing for it. No worries if you’d rather tackle it on two wheels; the trail has endless quiet places to pull over, set up camp, and inhale a breath of natural beauty.

The Rest on Dobbins Creek in Leiper’s Fork, Tennessee

Camping
A colourful bed with multiple cushions in a white tent at The Rest on Dobbins Creek in Leiper’s Fork
Courtesy of The Rest on Dobbins Creek / Expedia
Creekside camping at the Rest will leave you feeling refreshed and ready for an adventure every day. This backcountry site, outfitted with a pop-up tent, loo, and camp box, is a quiet place to rest your head. Whenever you want to switch your soundtrack from the rolling water to rock and roll, you can walk the 1.5 miles (2.41km) to Historic Leipers Fork Village where live music, delicious restaurants, and charming shops await.

Want more great campsites in Tennessee? Check out our rundown of the top spots to pitch up in Nashville.

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