Camp beside rivers, waterfalls, and the Great Smoky Mountains in a lush wonderland for outdoor fun.
The geology of the Volunteer State is surprisingly dramatic. The landscape soars from the delta lowlands of the Mississippi River east to the rugged heights of the Cumberland Plateau before climbing the forested slopes of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The varied terrain is well-suited for active campers, from paddlers and rock climbers to fishers and firefly hunters. And hikers? They’re happy everywhere. Tent and RV sites are abundant, and a growing array of glamping options—yurts, retro trailers, and treehouses—keep the camping scene fresh. And in music-loving Tennessee, a live jam is never far away, be it blues, bluegrass, or Bonnaroo.
Bordered by the Mississippi and anchored by Memphis, West Tennessee works best for campers seeking music, history, and low-key outdoor thrills. Tents and RVs are welcome at Pickwick Landing State Park, known for its lake and watersports, while birdwatchers may prefer driving north to Reelfoot Lake State Park, where bald eagles are plentiful. Shiloh National Military Park spotlights a pivotal battle in the Civil War.
Marked by cliffs, waterfalls, wild rivers, dark skies, and lush forests, Middle Tennessee is a geologic drama queen. Packed with state parks along the steep edges of the Cumberland Plateau, it’s also a top destination for camping and active travelers. Visit Nashville, home to honky-tonks, hot chicken, and Vanderbilt, then hit Fall Creek Falls, a deep-green state park loaded with waterfalls. Stay in cabins constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps in Cumberland Mountain State Park or CCC Pickett Memorial State Park—where you can go stargazing. The Big South Fork National River & Recreation Area draws adventurous paddlers, and campers can even sleep beside the 444-mile Natchez Trace Parkway, a historic trade route that stretches from the Mississippi River to Nashville.
Prefer urban adventures? Knoxville and Chattanooga await. Knoxville is best known as the state capital, but mountain bikers love the city’s urban wilderness and its 50-mile network of trails. Chattanooga is a convenient base for rock climbing and whitewater rafting. The craft beer scene in both cities impresses too. For hiking and solitude head north to Frozen Head State Park. Families with varied interests may prefer Big Ridge State Park, which offers trails, lake swimming, and volleyball and basketball courts.
The most visited national park in the United States, Great Smoky Mountains National Park sprawls across eastern Tennessee and western North Carolina. The Appalachian National Scenic Trail bounces along the boundary line between the two states. The park has nine developed campgrounds and numerous backcountry shelters. Tent sites, RV parks, cabins, and glamping destinations punctuate the foothills region, which is anchored by Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge.
Generally, Tennessee State Parks do not offer free camping. Most parks charge a fee for camping, with rates varying depending on the type of campsite and amenities provided. However, you may find some free dispersed camping options in Tennessee's National Forests. For more information on Tennessee State Parks and camping options, visit Hipcamp.
In Tennessee, you can camp for free in dispersed camping areas within the Cherokee National Forest. Dispersed camping is allowed in most areas of the forest unless otherwise posted. Keep in mind that dispersed camping comes with no amenities, so you'll need to be self-sufficient and follow Leave No Trace principles. For more information on camping in Tennessee's national forests, visit Hipcamp.
Yes, Tennessee offers excellent camping opportunities, with a diverse range of landscapes and outdoor activities. From the Great Smoky Mountains National Park to beautiful lakes, rivers, and forests, there are numerous state parks, private campgrounds, and recreation areas for campers to explore. Tennessee's camping options include tent camping, RV camping, and cabin rentals. For more information on camping in Tennessee, you can visit Hipcamp.
The cost of camping in Tennessee State Parks varies depending on the type of campsite and amenities provided. Tent campsites typically range from $15 to $25 per night, while RV campsites with electric and water hookups can range from $25 to $35 per night. Some parks offer premium campsites with additional amenities, which can cost up to $50 per night. For more information on Tennessee State Parks camping, visit Hipcamp.
Boondocking, or camping without amenities on public lands, is not illegal in Tennessee as long as the land allows for dispersed camping. However, it's important to follow the specific rules and regulations of the area you're camping in. Some public lands, like national forests, may permit boondocking in designated areas, while others may not. Always check with the land management agency responsible for the area you plan to camp in to ensure you're following the rules. Private landowners may also offer boondocking opportunities, such as Bryson's Boondocking on Hipcamp. In these cases, you'll need to obtain permission from the landowner and follow their guidelines for camping on their property.
Camping fees at Douglas Lake in Tennessee can vary depending on the campground and amenities offered. Prices generally range from $20 to $50 per night for tent and RV sites. For more information on specific campgrounds, amenities, and pricing, visit the Douglas Lake camping page on Hipcamp.