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