Pitch your tent, hook up your RV, or tuck yourself in for some glamping.
Whether you're cuddled up in the Great Smoky Mountains, tucked away in the Blue Ridge Mountains, relaxing lakeside, spending a lazy weekend on the river, camping in Tennessee offers a range of stunning outdoor areas for a night under the stars. There is truly something for every type of camper in Tennessee, no matter what style of outdoor recreation you’re after.
To get you started, we’ve rounded up some of the best places to camp in Tennessee. They offer a mix diverse enough to please RV enthusiasts, tent campers, and those who like to glamp in luxury. This list will also give you a taste of Tennessee's three grand divisions: West, Middle, and East. Each region offers its own distinct landscape and culture, from the Gulf Coastal Plain along the Mississippi River to the mountainous peaks along the eastern border. No matter the type of camping trip you’re jonesing for, Tennessee has a spot that’s perfect for your next weekend getaway.
Dale Hollow Dam Campground
You’ll find this campground up near the Kentucky border along the picturesque Obey River, a cold stream that helps keep the campsites cool in the summer. The dam, constructed in 1943 by the US Army Corps of Engineers, also creates a clear blue lake surrounded by forest. Dale Hollow Dam Campground has 72 single-party sites, three group sites, and one large group picnic shelter. There are electric hookups, potable drinking water, flush toilets, and a dump station for campers’ convenience. Dale Hollow has the second-largest wintering eagle population in all of Tennessee and Kentucky, and campers can see the birds late fall through early spring flying overhead and resting on tree limbs. Sites are $32 per night and you can book them on Recreation.gov.
Douglas Tailwater Campground
The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) completed construction of Douglas Dam in 1943, which created the scenic Douglas Lake north of the Smokies. Douglas Tailwater Campground sits at the tailend of the dam and is close to an overlook where visitors can see gorgeous views of the reservoir and learn more about TVA’s history in the region. The campground has 61 sites, 58 of which include RV hookups for water and electricity, two of which meet ADA guidelines, and three of which are for tent camping only. There are warm showers, flush toilets, and a free dump station available, as well as a seasonal camp store to meet your summer cravings for soft-serve ice cream. In the spring, the area is dotted with the magenta blooms of eastern redbuds. Nightly rates range from $18–33 and reservations can be made online or by calling 865-361-1522.
USA Raft Adventure Resort
Located on the Nolichucky Wild and Scenic River, USA Raft Adventure Resort offers more than 72 options for spending your night under the stars. You can find primitive tent camping, vintage airstreams, tiny homes, RV hookups, and even geodesic domes—think architecturally beautiful glamping bubbles perched on wooden platforms by the river. The resort also offers a variety of adventures, like whitewater rafting, fishing, caving, rock climbing, and paddle-boarding, to make your camping excursion a trip to remember.
Cades Cove Campground
Cades Cove is one of the most popular areas of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. People from around the world come to drive the 11-mile loop through the valley, where opportunities for scenic mountain photos and wildlife sightings are ample. A great way to get an early start on the tour is to rest your head by its entrance. Cades Cove Campground is open year-round with 159 sites for tent camping or RVs up to 35 feet, though some are unavailable to reserve during the off-season from December through early April. Thirty-one of the sites are designated for tent camping only. The campground is primitive—don’t expect cell phone reception or Wi-Fi—but campers do have access to flush toilets and potable drinking water. Dogs are allowed in the campground, but only if they remain on a leash. If you’re planning on bringing your pooch along, remember that dogs are only allowed on two trails within the park: the Gatlinburg Trail and the Oconaluftee River Trail. Sites are $30 per night and you can book them on Recreation.gov.
Pigeon Forge, Tennessee
Camp Margaritaville RV Resort & Lodge is a relative newcomer to the area’s camping scene. However, with its prime location and ample amenities, it didn’t take long for it to grab the title of one of the best places to camp in Tennessee. In roughly two minutes, you can drive from your campsite to the entrance of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. You’re also minutes from all the attractions downtown Pigeon Forge has to offer, but since the resort is tucked away over a hill, the location offers a quiet outdoor retreat from the town’s peak-season traffic. This perfect blend of city conveniences and naturescapes offers five RV site types of varying lengths. All include 30/50 amp with full hook-up, free Wi-Fi and cable TV, communal laundry facilities, fire pits, and more. You’ll also have access to the same amenities lodge guests have, such as a pool and lazy river, hot tub, pickleball court, restaurant options, dog park, arcade, duckpin bowling, and live entertainment. If you have an RV and are heading to the Smokies, Camp Margaritaville is truly your one-stop camp spot.
Not everyone wants to rough it. If that’s you, then Erwin’s newest campground, Glamping Retro, should be on your list. This upscale space lets you surround yourself in nature and fall asleep under the stars with all the comforts of home. You can choose from luxury treehouses, iconic airstreams, and trendy canvas safari tents. All spaces include towels and linens, basic cookware, free Wi-Fi, and more. There are also common areas to mix and mingle with other guests around fire pits, dining tables, and lounge seating. If you want a little more outdoor adventure, the property backs up to Pisgah National Forest and is just one mile from an entry point for the Appalachian Trail. You can book your stay online. Rates tend to range from $95–250 per night.
Defeated Creek Campground
Defeated Lake Campground sits on the banks of the 12,000-acre Cordell Hull Lake, formed by a dam on the Cumberland River by the US Army Corps of Engineers. The lake’s namesake was a Tennessee statesman born in a log cabin in the Cumberland Mountain foothills. He served in the Tennessee and US House of Representatives and US Senate, was Secretary of State under President Franklin D. Roosevelt from 1933 to 1944, and received a Nobel Peace Prize in 1945. The campground has 155 sites for tents and RVs, all with electric hookups. The area has a boat ramp, playground, beach, and tennis and volleyball courts. Sites range from $30–60 per night and you can book them on Recreation.gov.
Abrams Creek Campground
Located in a more remote area of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Abrams Creek Campground offers an opportunity to find some real peace and quiet in the country’s most-visited national park. While there are flush toilets and potable drinking water available at the campground, this site does not offer RV hookups or showers. With just 16 available sites, you’ll be able to relax by the flowing Abrams Creek and hop on less-traveled hiking trails. As with Cades Cove Campground, Abrams Creek Campground does not have cell phone reception, dogs must be kept on a leash, and campers can only use certified heat-treated firewood to keep potential pests out of the park. Sites are $30 per night and you can book them on Recreation.gov.
Chickasaw State Park Campground
Located in West Tennessee, Chickasaw State Park encompasses 14,384 acres on some of the highest terrain in the region. There are ample opportunities for outdoor recreation, including hiking trails, bicycle-friendly roads, and rowboat rentals on Lake Placid. Chickasaw State Park Campground offers 52 RV sites with water and electrical hookups and 29 tent sites. The park also has a 32-site wrangler campground for visitors traveling with horses. All campsites have picnic tables and grills, and the campground includes hot showers, restrooms, and a playground. Nightly rates vary based on date and availability, but tend to range from $17–40. You can reserve sites online through the Tennessee State Parks website.
Raccoon Mountain Caverns and Campground
This year-round campground in the popular destination of Chattanooga offers camping with a side of caving. Raccoon Mountain Caverns and Campground is home to one of the state’s highest rated caves, composed of 5.5 miles of underground passages. Visitors can opt for a Wild Cave Expedition, where you’ll get muddy crawling through the deeper, undeveloped portions of the cave, or the Crystal Palace Tour, a 45-minute guided walk through the cave’s first quarter-mile—filled with stalactites, stalagmites, and chances to view ancient fossils and cave wildlife like bats and salamanders. The campground offers full service RV sites, water and electric sites, and primitive tent camping sites. You can book your site online or call 423-821-9403.
Fall Creek Falls State Park Campground
Fall Creek Falls State Park is home to some of the best waterfalls in Tennessee. If you’re looking to spend a long weekend checking all of them off your list, the park’s campground makes for a perfect basecamp. Overall, the park hosts 222 campsites in five different areas. All have picnic tables, grills, water, and electricity. There are six bathhouses shared among the sites. Additionally, 92 sites have sewer connections and some can accommodate RVs up to 65 feet long. If you’re looking for a more secluded feeling, 16 spots in the park are primitive sites for tent camping only. Nine of these are set back in the forest, a several hundred yards walk from the parking area. There are also backcountry camping sites for intrepid backpackers. You can learn more about camping rates, locations, and reserve sites online through the Tennessee State Parks website.
Fort Pillow State Historic Park Campground
Located near the Tennessee–Arkansas border near the Mississippi River and just 40 miles north of Memphis, Fort Pillow State Historic Park is a perfect camping adventure for history buffs. It was a strategic location during the Civil War. Today, the 1,642-acre park includes well-preserved Civil War artifacts, including breastworks, a reconstructed inner fort, and a cannon. Visitors can learn more about the area’s history in the park’s museum. The park is also a designated Wildlife Observation Area by the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, making it an ideal spot for bird watching. The Fort Pillow State Historic Park Campground has 21 RV sites, nine tent camping sites, one group site, and one backcountry campsite. You can learn more about camping rates, locations, and reserve sites online through the Tennessee State Parks website.
Piney Campground is located on the Tennessee–Kentucky border on a dammed portion of the Tennessee River that makes Kentucky Lake. The campground is managed by the US Forest Service as part of the Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area. Campers can choose from 384 lakefront and wooded sites. Of these, 283 offer electrical hookups, 44 have electric, water, and sewer, and 57 are primitive tent camping sites. The agency also offers 19 primitive cabins as nightly rentals. The area has modern facilities, a swimming beach, an archery range, a ball field, bike and hiking trails, boat ramps, a fishing pier, and a campfire theater. Nightly fees range from $10–22 and reservations can be made online.
Little Oak Campground
Located in Cherokee National Forest and operated by the US Forest Service, Little Oak Campground sits on an eastern shore peninsula of South Holston Lake, a 7,580-acre TVA-managed hydroelectric reservoir. Its 69 universally accessible campsites offer views of the lake, lush green islands, and the Holston Mountain ridgeline. There are eight showers for the campground and each campground loop has a pair of vault toilets. There is a boat launch available for registered guests only. Campers may see black bears and ospreys. From the site, you’re a short drive to the river just below the dam for some of Bristol’s best fly fishing. The campground is open from early April through early November each year. Nightly fees range from $10–12 and reservations can be made online.
Camp LeConte Luxury Outdoor Resort
Camp LeConte Luxury Outdoor Resort is adjacent to the Smokies and only four miles from all the bustling fun of downtown Gatlinburg. It has been family owned and operated since 2013 by a couple and their three children and offers a range of unique camping options. You can opt to stay in a luxury treehouse, European safari tent, or a 1960s vintage camper. The site also offers RV hookups and spots to pitch a tent. You’ll have access to the resort’s heated pool, playground, and ping pong tables. The site is a stop on the city’s trolley service, which will take you straight to downtown without having to worry about finding parking. You can book your stay online, with add-on options like birthday packages, firewood, and s’mores for extra memory-making.
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