Campers can kayak, paddleboard, wakeboard, and waterski just a splash from waterfront campsites.
A 34,000-acre reservoir on the Powell and Clinch rivers, Norris Lake is 30 miles northwest of Knoxville. Campgrounds and marinas surround the lake, so access to watersports and fantastic bass fishing is a breeze for campers, while surrounding state parks spotlight East Tennessee’s mountain-and-river terrain and its Appalachian culture. The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) and the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) developed several of these state parks during the Great Depression, and CCC-built facilities are still in use today. Glamping options include farm sites, canvas tents, and tiny homes—and birdwatching and hiking are popular no matter where you stay nearby.
Campgrounds are scattered along the shoreline beside Norris Dam, which sits at the southwestern edge of the lake in Anderson County. Small towns with camping, glamping, and RV sites include Rocky Top, Norris, and Andersonville.
The 19 cabins built by the Civilian Conservation Corps at Norris Dam State Park merge Depression-era history with modern amenities. The sprawling lakefront park also has two campgrounds, both with tent and RV campsites. A marina and a Southern Appalachia museum are bonus highlights.
Lakeside campsites accommodate tents and RVs at Big Ridge State Park, another Depression-era park constructed by the TVA and the CCC. Watersports are popular here, but hikers have plenty of options too, with 15 miles of trails exploring the forests, hollows, and ridges. Campgrounds are also scattered across the towns of Maynardville and New Tazewell.
Tennessee’s capital and the home of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville is a convenient launchpad for campers looking to mix urban adventuring with paddling and fishing at Norris Lake. In Knoxville, ride the elevator to the observation area atop the soaring Sunsphere, then check out the quarry and the nature center inside the Urban Wilderness, a network of parks and multi-use trails scattered across the city. Campgrounds surround the downtown area.