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

Cardens Bluff Campground is open for the 2020 season. 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 use by registed campers only.

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
No ADA Access
No Electric Hookups
Fires Allowed
Pets Allowed
Phone Service
Picnic Table
Trash Available
Cardens Bluff Campground is located in Cherokee National Forest in Tennessee
36.3097 N
-82.1153 W
2 ft
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. 
12 Reviews of Cardens Bluff Campground
Site on the water

Beautiful wooded campground with a few sites on the water. Perfect for canoeing. Showers were clean and bathrooms too.

TERRIBLE Campground Hosts
  • The female hostess went crazy on us last year when we were asking questions about the reservation process. Just very, very hateful. This year our 3rd person that was coming to camp with us got off work late & was pulling in at a few mins after 10. My daughter told the male host that shed be pulling in any minute and that she had driven a long way. He said “ the gate closes at 10pm, I don’t give a “s___” if she drove 10hrs! He proceeded to lock the gate right in her face as she pulled up. Rain pouring down and struggling to get her 2 dogs, tent, and bedding “around the gate” and into my daughters car, he came and “jiggled” the lock to make sure it was locked, I suppose. Two days after that he & the female hostess pulled up in their little golf cart & began getting hostile with me, then my husband who had came to visit on fathers day because we had taken more than 2 spaces at that point. There were about 6 open spaces and we were preparing  to leave and drive over to the beach area but the hostess starting literally screaming at us about the “2 vehicle rule”… she pulled out driving the golf cart looking back at me (while driving) cursing and calling me names! She honestly needs medication. I have never in my life experienced such people. We’ll never be back.
Nice little campground

Situated on a peninsula, Cardens Bluff has great views and access to the lake for the outer campsites. The interior campsites are nice as well, with vegetation giving enough privacy between campsites. Access to lake is limited for the interior sites, but there are many spots within a 5-10 minute drive that are great for day use with access to the lake, and picnic areas.


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!