Camping in Tennessee

      Your all-in-one guide to unforgettable camping getaways in Tennessee.

      Your Go-To Tennessee Camping Guide

      Tennessee’s calling all nature enthusiasts! Ditch the city and swap it for stunning landscapes, from the misty peaks of the Great Smokies to the sun-kissed shores of Reelfoot Lake.

      A sunrise with views? Check. Crisp mountain air filling your lungs? Check. Crackling campfire stories under a sky ablaze with stars? This state has it all. From rustic backcountry havens to family-friendly options with all the comforts, find your adventure and embrace the wild side of Tennessee.

      Best Places To Camp In Tennessee

      Great Smoky Mountains National Park

      With diverse landscapes ranging from lush forests and towering peaks to cascading waterfalls and tranquil streams, the park offers a variety of camping options. Campers can choose from developed campgrounds with amenities like restrooms and showers, or opt for more remote backcountry campsites for a true wilderness experience. The park boasts stunning views, abundant wildlife, and numerous hiking trails, making it a perfect escape for all levels of experience.

      Great Smoky Mountains National Park Tennessee

      Fall Creek Falls State Park

      Located in the southeast corner of Tennessee, Fall Creek Falls State Park is home to the tallest waterfall in the state, cascading 256 feet down a rocky gorge. The park offers a variety of camping options, including tent sites, RV hookups, and cabins. Campers can enjoy swimming, fishing, kayaking, and hiking on the numerous trails that wind through the park’s diverse landscapes, including waterfalls, forests, and scenic overlooks.

      Fall Creek Falls State Park Tennessee

      Cherokee National Forest

      Encompassing over 800,000 acres across eastern Tennessee and western North Carolina, the Cherokee National Forest is a vast wilderness area with diverse ecosystems. The forest offers various camping opportunities, from primitive campsites deep in the backcountry to developed campgrounds with amenities like picnic tables and fire rings. Hikers and mountain bikers can explore a network of trails, while anglers can cast their lines in the many streams and rivers. 

      Cherokee National Forest Tennessee

      Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area

      Located along the Big South Fork River in east Tennessee, this recreation area offers scenic beauty and diverse recreational opportunities. Campers can choose from various campsites, ranging from primitive sites along the river to developed campgrounds with amenities. The area is known for its whitewater rafting, kayaking, canoeing, and fishing. Additionally, visitors can explore historical sites, hike scenic trails, and go horseback riding.

      Big South Fork National River And Recreation Area Tennessee


      Situated at the gateway to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Gatlinburg is a popular tourist destination with numerous camping options. The town offers a variety of campgrounds, ranging from family-friendly sites with amenities to more rustic options closer to the park. Campers can enjoy easy access to the park’s hiking trails, waterfalls, and scenic overlooks.

      Gatlinburg Tennessee

      Things To Do In Tennessee

      Great Smoky Mountains National Park

      Spanning across the border of North Carolina and Tennessee, Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the most visited national park in the United States. Renowned for its breathtaking mountain scenery, diverse plant and animal life, and rich cultural heritage, the park offers a plethora of activities for visitors of all ages and interests. Hike along over 800 miles of trails, ranging from leisurely strolls to challenging climbs, and be rewarded with panoramic vistas of lush forests, cascading waterfalls, and rolling hills. Immerse yourself in the park's rich history by exploring historical sites like the Cades Cove Living History Museum and the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad.


      Affectionately known as "Music City," Nashville is a vibrant metropolis steeped in musical history and culture. Immerse yourself in the lively atmosphere of downtown Nashville, where honky-tonk bars line the streets, and the sounds of country music fill the air. Visit iconic landmarks like the Grand Ole Opry, a legendary stage that has launched the careers of countless country music stars, and the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, which chronicles the history and evolution of the genre.


      Graceland, located in Memphis, Tennessee, is the iconic mansion that was once the home of the "King of Rock and Roll," Elvis Presley. This pilgrimage site for music fans offers a glimpse into Elvis's life and career. Tour the expansive mansion, including his private quarters, recording studio, and Jungle Room, decorated in a unique Polynesian theme. Explore the Elvis Presley's Memphis Complex, which includes Graceland Mansion, Elvis Presley's Memphis airplane Lisa Marie, The "Heartbreak Hotel" on the mansion grounds, and the Elvis Presley's Automobile Museum, showcasing Elvis's car collection.


      Experience the thrill of roller coasters like Wild Eagle and Lightning Rod, explore recreated mountain towns, and enjoy captivating live shows that showcase the rich culture and heritage of the Appalachian region. Dollywood also hosts seasonal events throughout the year, including the renowned Smoky Mountain Christmas, transforming the park into a winter wonderland.


      Gatlinburg is a popular resort town offering a variety of activities and attractions. Explore the bustling Parkway, lined with shops, restaurants, and arcades. Take a scenic ride on the Gatlinburg SkyLift, offering panoramic views of the surrounding mountains. Visit Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies, home to a diverse collection of aquatic life, or Ripley's Believe It or Not! Odditorium, showcasing a collection of strange and unusual artifacts. 

      The Lost Sea

      Deep beneath the surface of Lookout Mountain in Tennessee, the Lost Sea is America's largest underground lake. Embark on a guided boat tour and marvel at the cavern's natural beauty, including towering rock formations and glistening waterfalls. The Lost Sea also offers visitors the opportunity to go spelunking on a guided cave tour, venturing off the beaten path to explore hidden passages and unique geological features.

      The Chattanooga Choo Choo

      Deep in Chattanooga, Tennessee, the Chattanooga Choo Choo is a historic train station turned into a unique entertainment complex. Explore the restored train cars, enjoy a variety of restaurants and shops, or even spend the night in a beautifully restored railroad car transformed into a luxurious hotel room. Visitors can also take a ride on a restored steam locomotive, offering a scenic journey through the Tennessee countryside.

      The Jack Daniel's Distillery

      Embark on a guided tour and learn about the unique charcoal mellowing process that gives Jack Daniel's Tennessee whiskey its distinct flavor. Explore the historic buildings on the distillery grounds, including the original rickhouses where the whiskey ages, and sample different Jack Daniel's products in the tasting room.

      Ruby Falls

      Descend 260 feet into the cool depths of Lookout Mountain aboard a glass-enclosed elevator and witness the cascading wonder of Ruby Falls, the tallest underground waterfall open to the public in the United States. The tour also includes breathtaking views of the surrounding cave formations and informative commentary about the unique geology of the region.

      The Carter House

      Located in Franklin, Tennessee, the Carter House served as a Confederate field hospital during the Battle of Franklin in 1864. Today, it stands as a museum that offers visitors a glimpse into the Civil War era. Explore the meticulously restored mansion, learn about the lives of the Carter family who lived there, and witness the bullet holes and other scars left behind by the battle. The Carter House offers a poignant reminder of the human cost of the Civil War.

      The Frist Art Museum

      Housed in a stunning Art Deco building in Nashville, Tennessee, the Frist Art Museum is a leading institution dedicated to showcasing American art forms. Explore the museum's permanent collection, featuring works by renowned American artists like Georgia O'Keeffe, James McNeill Whistler, and Mary Cassatt. The Frist Art Museum also hosts a variety of temporary exhibitions, showcasing diverse art forms and historical periods.

      Featured Tennessee Parks

      Inspiration From Our Nearby States

      Book an RV in Tennessee

      Discover Tennessee's breathtaking beauty and charm from the comfort of your own RV! Explore the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, immerse yourself in the rich musical history of Nashville, or unwind by the shores of pristine lakes. With an RV rental, you have the freedom to roam at your own pace, creating lasting memories along the way. Book your Tennessee RV adventure today and experience the Volunteer State like never before!

      Frequently Asked Questions

      Spring (April-May) and fall (September-October) offer pleasant temperatures, vibrant foliage, and fewer crowds compared to the summer heat and humidity. However, Tennessee boasts beautiful scenery year-round, so camping is enjoyable even in winter (if you're properly equipped) and summer (if you can handle the heat).

      Tennessee offers a diverse range of camping options. Choose from fully developed campgrounds with amenities like hookups, bathhouses, and camp stores, or opt for primitive campsites with minimal facilities for a more rustic experience. Backcountry camping enthusiasts can venture deeper into the wilderness for a truly secluded adventure.

      While free dispersed camping is rare on public lands, Tennessee has several free primitive campsites within state parks like Fall Creek Falls State Park and Pickett State Park. However, these sites often have limited availability and may not be suitable for larger RVs.

      A permit is typically required for camping in Tennessee, except for designated free campsites. Permits can be obtained online or at park ranger stations. Fees vary depending on the location and campsite type, so be sure to check the specific park's website for details.

      Certain areas of Tennessee are home to black bears. To ensure a safe and enjoyable experience, practice proper food storage by using bear-proof containers or lockers, never leave food unattended at your campsite, and dispose of waste properly. Be aware of your surroundings, make noise while hiking, and never approach a bear.

      Campfire restrictions are in place throughout the year in some areas, especially during dry periods. Always check for local fire restrictions before starting a fire and use designated fire rings whenever available. Be responsible with your fire, extinguish it completely before leaving your campsite, and never leave a burning fire unattended.

      Essentials for your camping trip include a tent, sleeping bag and pad, appropriate clothing for the weather, sturdy shoes, a first-aid kit, sunscreen, insect repellent, and a headlamp or flashlight. Depending on your campsite and activities, you may also want to pack cooking gear, a cooler, camp chairs, a map and compass, and toiletries.

      Most Tennessee campgrounds allow pets, but leash laws and specific regulations regarding pet waste disposal are always in place. It's crucial to check the individual park's website or contact them directly for their specific pet policies before bringing your furry friend along.

      No, camping is not legal just anywhere in Tennessee. You typically need a permit to camp on public lands, with designated free campsites being the exception. Permits are readily available online or at park ranger stations, and fees vary depending on the location and campsite type. Always check park regulations before setting up camp.

      Camping fees in Tennessee state parks generally range from $15 to $30 per night, depending on the campsite type (primitive, basic, or developed) and amenities offered. Additional fees may apply for amenities like hookups, group sites, or specific activities. 

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