Standard (tent/RV)
Tent Sites
Fires Allowed
Pets Unknown
Water Unknown
About Cardens Bluff Campground

Cardens Bluff Campground will close for the season on Monday, October 14, 2019. At nearly 2,000 feet elevation, Cardens Bluff Campground is located on a peninsula overlooking the 6,430-acre Watauga Lake in Carter County, TN. There are 43 sites, primarily for tent camping. There is a bathhouse with showers and flush toilets. No electrical hookups are provided. Day use areas are located nearby for those wanting to take advantage of swimming, boating, and fishing opportunities. Campground Hosts are on site to answer questions and assist with your visit.  


Boating is popular for visitors to Cardens Bluff. Numerous campsites provide easy water access for kayaks, canoes and motorized boats. Swimming and fishing are also very popular activities at Cardens Bluff. Watauga Lake provides notably clean water for recreating. 


There are 43 campsites within Cardens Bluff Campground. Each section of the campground has flush toilets. In addition, there is an accessible shower house with eight showers for the campground. 

Natural Features

Watauga Lake is a 6,430-acre hydroelectric reservoir managed by the Tennessee Valley Authority and surrounded by the Cherokee National Forest. Directly across the lake from the campground is the Big Laurel Branch Wilderness area, a rugged, undeveloped mountain range with only the Appalachian National Scenic Trail within its boundaries.

Nearby Attractions

The nearby Rat Branch Boat Launch is an easy quick drive from the campground for campers with motor boats. Shook Branch Swim Area is also nearby on the shores of Watauga Lake. Big Laurel Branch and Pond Mountain Wilderness areas are located north and south of the campground for more rugged, backcountry hiking.

ADA Access: N

National Forest
Drive In
Boat In
Fires Allowed
Phone Service
Trash Available
Cardens Bluff Campground is located in Tennessee
36.3097 N
-82.1153 W
Get Directions
From Elizabethton, TN take US 19E/321 south 5 miles to Hampton. Turn left on 321/67 travel approx. 4 miles to the campground entrance on the left. 
9 Reviews of Cardens Bluff Campground

As far as campgrounds go , it wasn't bad . Just something is it's a self service check in which I didn't know , and when I asked for help one of the camp host wasn't vary helpful but since I had a reservation I just needed to go to the site( which was not posted ) . Our neighbors had a generator going ( which is posted that it's prohibited) which was on for the 1st day before someone finally told them to turn it off . Our site was beautiful and overlooked the lake , but you couldn't get to the water from our site , there was about a 6 ft cliff so for kayaking you have to go down the road from the campground and pay $2.00 for a day pass . It's not a bad place to stay just don't know if I'll ever go back .

On the Lake

Great place to camp and fish.

Beautiful Blue Lake in Mountain Valley

Amazing lake front camping. rock bed lake creates a dark blue color instead of the brown many lakes in the area have. Great place to rent a pontoon boat for the day and explore the lake!

Beautiful Place

I love this campground. They have a nice bathhouse and plenty of great sites right on the water. The camp hosts are helpful. it can get a little crowded in the summer months, but it’s a great place!

Stunning sunset

Only in for a night. Easy to find. Didn't see a bad site here. Tents only. Site 041 is the best - I was right on the lake. The weather was perfect so I slept with the rainfly off and the stars and still of the lake are wonderful.

Smelly, smokey bathrooms

This campground deserves five stars. The sites were awesome, and right on the lake. The hosts were fantastic. Everyone we met was awesome.

But the showers were disgusting - not because they weren't clean, but because other campers used them to smoke in, since there was no smoking allowed in the campground. The thick, stale smoke made the shower facilities unusable and this was very disappointing as it was quite hot in August and a shower would have made my stay more pleasant.

Favorite spot

I have camped here 3 times and I loved it every single time! If you get a spot close enough to the water it's easy water access for kayaking/swimming. Nice picnic tables and fire pits, most sites are drive up with a short walk. Bathhouse has lots of bugs & could be better but you're camping not glamping!

Lake Watauga

Great camp sites right on Lake Watauga with nice little coves and private beaches. The Appalachian Trail runs by the lake and not far from the campsites. The public accesses around the lake gets crowded in the spring and summer but there are plenty of spots inside the park or just reserve a site that's right on the water. Our dogs loved this lake can't wait to go back.

First to Review
Lovely little lake

Lots of water to explore by boat, including coves to kayak into. Aside from the water, not much to do right at the campsite but convenient to many other parks and national lands. Campground juts out into water. Wooded sites, we got one of many with a great lake view and good privacy. Everything as expected.