State Park campgrounds in Tennessee.
State parks in Tennessee show off waterfalls, wildflowers, dark skies, and Depression-era craftsmanship.
Out-of-state visitors flock to Memphis, Nashville, and Great Smoky Mountains National Park, but Tennesseeans have their own favorite escapes: their 56 state parks. Lakes and forests are highlights for campers in the low-lying west, but the landscape turns wild—plunging waterfalls, steep cliffs, wild rivers—along the Cumberland Plateau, which cuts a mighty swathRead more...
Out-of-state visitors flock to Memphis, Nashville, and Great Smoky Mountains National Park, but Tennesseeans have their own favorite escapes: their 56 state parks. Lakes and forests are highlights for campers in the low-lying west, but the landscape turns wild—plunging waterfalls, steep cliffs, wild rivers—along the Cumberland Plateau, which cuts a mighty swath through Middle Tennessee. What wows campers in East Tennessee? Ice-covered peaks in winter, robust waterfalls in spring, mountaintop rhododendrons in summer, and fall foliage in the Smoky Mountains. Spring, summer, and fall are typically the best seasons for camping across the state’s three dozen state park campgrounds.
Where to Go
Memphis is the big city launchpad for exploring the lakes, forests, and historic sights of low-lying West Tennessee. Pickwick Landing State Park is home to a manmade lake popular for its fishing and watersports. The campground here is also convenient to Shiloh National Military Park. Natchez Trace State Park borders the historic Natchez Trace Byway, a national byway following a historic footpath. Created by earthquakes in the early 1800s, Reelfoot Lake today is a flooded forest beloved for its canoeing, kayaking, and bald eagles.
Thanks to the lush and lofty Cumberland Plateau, Middle Tennessee lures campers with the wildest scenery in the state and a slew of state parks. Campers at Fall Creek Falls State Park can hike to a 256-foot waterfall, the highest in Tennessee. A multi-sport bonanza for families, Cumberland Mountain State Park offers hiking, mountain biking, golfing, and fishing. A dramatic gorge lures hikers to Rock Island State Park while dark skies impress astronomy buffs at Pickett CCC Memorial State Park. CCC-built cabins are available for overnight stays in Cumberland Mountain and Pickett CCC Memorial.
Campsites come either rustic or primitive at Frozen Head State Park in the Cumberland Mountains. The park is known for its birding, remote hiking, and namesake peak, which is often covered in ice and snow in winter. Kayaking, canoeing, paddle boarding, swimming and hiking keep active families happy at Big Ridge State Park, home to thick forests and a 49-acre lake.
Great Smoky Mountains
Mountains, hills, farms, and rivers are the backdrop in the Great Smokies region, which is anchored by Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge. Tucked at the base of soaring Roan Mountain, scenic Roan Mountain State Park is famed for its hardwood forest, its plentiful wildflowers, and the rocking chairs fronting its cabins. Catawba rhododendrons bloom on the mountaintop in June. Kayak and canoe on the Nolichucky River, which is just steps from campsites at Davy Crockett Birthplace State Park.