Cherokee Dam campground is literally one of the most beautiful campgrounds in the area! The grounds are so well-kept, and the lake is just breathtaking. The campground is near town, so you can grab some bbq or hit the local hardware store for anything you need. The campground also had a camp store for essentials. They even delivered firewood to our site.
The people running the campground were just amazing. So nice and helpful. Most of the sites have lake views. We were in site #36, and we were in our camper. Lots of space, no shade at all in this one. Most of the sites had some shade though. Picnic tables and fire rings at all.
I’ve noticed the TVA campgrounds don’t have many showers, so I was glad to have that in our camper, just be aware, you might have to wait for one if you are tent camping. The tent sites were awesome, right on the water, and a short walk from the parking lot. If you have a rooftop tent, you won’t be able to park at your site, so you’ll be sleeping in the parking lot, but you could make it work.
There’s a swimming area, boat launch, and walking trails. This is a great spot to have a great time on the lake!
I spotted Smooth Rapids last year, just by chance. Our GPS took us a weird way and we saw the store/restaurant and noticed they had camping listed on the sign. It looked like a fun place so I made a note in my phone. I was so pleased with this diamond in the rough! Smooth rapids is located right on the river, and right in the town of McMinnville. Not far from several hiking areas, rock climbing spots, swimming holes and waterfalls, kayaking, etc. so many activities nearby. Mickey is the owner, and runs the place, and he is on top of things! He knows a lot about a lot, and seems to work his tail off to make his place awesome for guests.
The campground Is pretty small, I believe they said 10 acres, but they have rv sites with water/electric, and they have some rv’s already set up for rent, so if you want to stay less primitive but don’t have your own camper, it’s all set up for you. We were in our camper. The campground is right on the river bank, but is also wooded. It’s really great. The tent spots are outstanding, you can choose to be right on the water or in the trees. There’s one portable toilet, and I didn’t see showers. The store/restaurant has restrooms for day use if needed. There’s a big stage in the middle of the campground where they have live music sometimes! The store is where you can rent kayaks, canoes, or tubes. They also have a shuttle service for your own kayak/tubes if you choose to bring your own. They offer 3 choices of float length. We did the short float in a tandem kayak and it was a blast. They have essential items and t-shirts and such at the store, and the restaurant is there too. We had lunch there one day and it was good. They had a couple of beers on tap from a local brewery we love called Calf Killer. Great views from the deck! Smooth Rapids was such a fun place with such a cool vibe. I can’t wait to go back with a few friends and float that river and camp. Hoping they will have some bands playing next time! I don’t know how enjoyable it would be for small children, but for adults, it’s great!
The Virgin Falls area is located in the Bridgestone-Firestone Centennial Wildlife Management Area, and is huge with several awesome camping spots. The WMA is a public camping area, so don’t go during hunting season unless you are hunting. We visited during spring turkey season, and the covid 19 shutdown, so we were nearly alone in this vast area, however we couldn’t actually go to the falls, as they were closed alone with all hiking and such. Literally only activity allowed was hunting.
The signage was better in this area then a lot of WMA’s I’ve visited, and you can tell where the camping areas are. Lots of level spots here, and most connect to hiking trails. There’s an endless supply of firewood too, so no need to bring any. There was a little store, but was closed so I have no idea what’s available there. I look forward to camping here again when the state opens up!
The Bridgestone Firestone Centennial WMA is huge, with multiple primitive campgrounds and this review is for the area called Big Bottom Unit. The Big Bottom Unit has two campgrounds, however you will see in my pics, the road to get to the campgrounds was washed out! So we just made camp at the entrance of the WMA. One thing I’ve learned about WMA’s is they are regularly not clearly marked, and this one was no different. There no sign that points to the campground. So it’s the road that is to the right of the sign. The area is a Wildlife Management Area (WMA) which means hunting is allowed there, and if it’s hunting season, you can’t be there if you’re not hunting. We visited during Spring Turkey season, and we did see several wild turkeys driving in, my husband did not see any when he was hunting. He did see a lot of deer though, and the area is just naturally beautiful, lots of caves and rock formations, and the Caney Fork River runs through, if you can get the the campground, it’s right on there. Outside of hunting season, this is a great place to camp, and relax by the river, or for walking/hiking/trail running. I believe the gravel path stretched a few miles, according to a helpful game warden we spoke to. I look forward to returning to this spot when hunting season is over and it’s a bit drier so we can actually make it to the campgrounds.
This area is so incredibly beautiful, with amazing views, rock formations, beautiful foliage, gorgeous river. But the terrain is ROUGH! Especially with a pack. There are ladders, stairs, scrambling, rocks, and steep terrain. But there’s several campsites around the area, and you can choose one that’s easier to access if you’d like. We went down near the river, and camped and did some fishing.
The trail had a few hikers on it during the morning and afternoon, and we saw a few rafters and kayakers on the river, but overall it’s not crowded, especially compared the the Smokies. There was a group camping at a nearby site, but not close enough to disturb us.
I did see some trash by the river. It’s disappointing that people pollute such a beautiful place, it’s an unfortunate reality. But overall, the park is very nice, clean and very well maintained. I look forward to going back!
This campground could be amazing, IF they had more than 2 showers! There are only 2 bathhouses in the campground, with only one shower in each women’s and one in each men’s room. Also, there’s only two toilets in each women’s room. This is a real problem when the campground is full, plus a two night minimum was required when I stayed. So if you are not in an rv with a restroom/shower, keep in mind the bathhouse situation.
The campground is right on the lake, and it is beautiful! I stayed in tent site #62, it is the first site when you enter the campground only area. I was in a rooftop tent, so wasn’t able to park on the tent pad, but was able to make it work. The first sites are pretty close together, with not much privacy from your neighbors. There were other sites farther down that looked more spacious. We did not have electricity r water hookups, but there was a water spout nearby. The tent pad was pretty small, and was taken up by a giant concrete picnic table that was too small for an adult to sit at. You would need a small done tent for this one. The site text to us had a couple of some tents and put in on the pad and one on a flat spot in the grass and it worked for them.
The rv sites with hookups are all higher on the hill, but I believe they pretty much all had like views. The sites weren’t as spacious as I would like.
The campground has a swimming area, playground, boat launch, paved walking trails, very popular area for bike riding (if you like hills), fishing, basketball courts, picnic pavilion, etc.
There’s a camp store with essentials, including ice and firewood. The lady working in there was exceptionally nice and friendly!
The campground is conveniently located just a couple miles from the exit, and very close to West Knoxville. I really would love to see some updates on this potential gem!
I’m giving this campground 4 stars as an RV park, not as a good spot for tent camping.
There were pros and cons, so I’ll start with the cons- the campground is surrounded by what looked to be a mobile home community. If you stay in an rv site, you probably won’t notice this, but the tent with electric sites are on the outer loop, so we noticed, and heard commotion from the road and community well into the night. The tent/electric sites were slightly wooded, but most are basically in the back yard of said community, so you don’t really have the “camping in the woods” feeling. We were the only occupants of tent/electric and there was not a single tent in the primitive field. The campground is pretty pricey also, compared to other places I’ve stayed.
Pros- This grounds was very clean and well maintained. Every site has gravel, and they had a pile of fill gravel, so I guess they fill it in when it gets low in spots. The restrooms and showers were also very clean and well kept. While I believe there are some long term residents here, the sites were not very cluttered as many are at other parks.
The campground is really close to the exit, and several restaurants, and really close to Chattanooga. There’s a camp store with essentials, including ice and firewood. There’s a pool that looks to be very clean and well maintained.
This is a great spot to spend the night if you are visiting Chattanooga and just need a place to stay close by, but I would say if you are just wanting to camp out, you could find a better spot in the great outdoors for that.
Hickey Gap is located in the Cohutta Wildlife Management Area in Georgia. The area is beautiful, undeveloped terrain, and the campground was surprisingly clean and well maintained. The campground is small, with only 5 spots, and it is first come, first served, so might be hard to get a spot during busier times, however camping is allowed in the WMA, so you could always backpack in to find a great spot. I noticed someone had a campsite across the creek from the campground.
The sites are primitive, but all had a tent pad, fire ring, and picnic table. All are heavily wooded, but the first ones are less private. All are right on the creek.
There’s a pit toilet, but it was so gross and stinky, I could not even walk in the door, so I’d say just plan to just use nature’s facilities!
Beautiful area, nice camping area if you like free primitive camping, and don’t mind some neighbors!
We visited Gee Creek Campground, located in the Hiwassee/ Ocoee Rivers State Park in a Sunday, and there was hardly anyone there. We had our choice of sites! The Hiwassee and Ocoee Rivers are known for great white water rafting, and there’s several outfitters in the area.
The campground is right on the river, and you can actually hear the river flowing nearby. The sites are fairly wooded, spacious, and all we saw were very level. None of the sites have electric or water hookups. They all have fire rings and picnic tables. The campground is very quiet at night, with just the sounds of the river.
There’s a group camp area, which looked like a field for dispersed camping. There’s a large playground too.
I only saw one bathhouse, so if the campground was full, might be an issue, but it was nearly empty when we were there so it was ok. They were very clean and well maintained.
Nice, quiet spot to camp near the river!
Bandy Creek Campground is located in The Big South Fork National River and Recreation area on The Cumberland Plateau. Big South Fork is a great place for outdoor adventure. Some activities include hiking, horseback riding, rick climbing, tubing, kayaking, swimming, fishing, mountain biking, and just about anything else! The area is never overcrowded, even in the middle of summer. There are many scenic views throughout the area, so bring a camera!
Campground review: Bandy Creek Campground is a great place! The sites are all spacious, and wooded for the most part, so you have plenty of space and some privacy. The campground seemed quite large, and was fairly empty for a Weekend in August. Some sites have food storage lockers (not sure if all do) as the area is a bear habitat. We saw some deer and turkeys, so there’s wildlife around for sure!
There is tent loop, and a group camp area, and I believe the campground hosts several retreats.
There’s riding stables at the camp store too. The campground also has a large swimming pool, with lifeguards.
The restrooms were immaculate! Seriously the cleanest campground restrooms I believe I’ve seen. Ours had a filtered water bottle fill up fountain too.
This campground is really nice, and quiet, but also has so much to do, I highly recommend it!
Product Review: As a Ranger for The Dyrt, I get to try out products sometimes, and today I’m trying out the GCI Freestyle Rocket Pro! https://www.gcioutdoor.com/camping-chairs/freestyle-rocker-pro/
The Freestyle Rocker Pro is one of the best chairs I’ve used! It is actually much lighter than I expected, and is still extremely sturdy. Lightweight gear is a must when camping, or attending events!
It has a carry handle so you don’t need to try to fit it in a case to have a strap like other chairs I’ve used. The Rocker was smooth on natural surface, pea gravel, and concrete. It is very comfortable, quiet, and relaxing. It folds up super easy with just a pull of the handle. One feature that I especially love is the cup holder and side pocket. It will actually hold a drink without spilling, and you can fit a phone, keys or other small items in the pocket. This chair is awesome! Two thumbs up!!
Fort Mountain State Park is a nice place to camp! The drive to the park is very scenic, with 180 degree Mountain views. The park has a small lake with a beach and swimming area, kayak and aqua bike rentals, fishing, mountain bike trails, hiking trails, a mini golf course, playground, and picnic areas throughout.
The campground has two main loops, lake side and creek side. Both are gated, so you will need a code to enter. We stayed in the lakeside loop on site 62. It was a very spacious site, plenty of shade, “waterfront” (none of the sites were exactly on the water, but paths through the woods to the water) There’s a trail around the lake too, I believe it was just under a mile long. Most of the sites in the lake loop were great, all wooded and most of them have a view of the water, you can’t go wrong with any of them.
There’s an area called “Squirrels nest” and I believe it was a tent area that looked really cool, I would like to stay here with a group! It is located in the lake loop. There’s some backcountry sites in the park also, I planned to hike to one to check it out, but the trails aren’t marked very well and I couldn’t find my way without driving to a trailhead so I didn’t see them. The hiking was disappointing to me, but I’m accustomed to Smoky Mountain hikes.
The creek side loop looked nice through the woods when I hiked by, but I didn’t actually go through the loop.
The restrooms were great, very clean, very spacious showers. Modern and well maintained.
There’s a store at the campground check in, it has ice, firewood and other essentials, plus some souvenirs and such. They gave me a trail map along with the campground map.
The day use area (beach, picnic, mini golf area) was SUPER crowded on Saturday, so be aware if you plan on using this area, might want to plan on staying mid week.
Nice wooded, level spots throughout the campground, great spot to camp.
Oak Mountain State Park is Alabama’s largest state park. Located just outside of Birmingham, it’s easy to escape to nature without being too far off the beaten path. This park is HUGE! There’s so many things to do here, we plan to return when we have more time to explore!
We saw several hiking trails, a horseback riding area, a golf course, a lake with a beach and swimming area, plus kayak and boats, we also saw some kind of skiing tow rope area! It was really cool, I’d never seen one of those! I read the park is known for mountain biking also, and I noticed a few road bikes in the bike lane driving in.
We originally booked a tent site without electric, but it was blazing hot, so we decided to move to a site with electric so we could have fans in our rooftop tent and ended up in site A06. The site was shaded and there was no one in that area so we had great privacy. Our site backed up to the woods, so it was nice.
The tent (no electric) sites are the best in my opinion. Most are back in the woods and shaded. I don’t believe you can reserve a specific tent site, as they assign you one when you arrive, but there were so many great tent sites, i don’t think it would be a problem unless it was a super busy weekend. Most of the tent sites are walk in also, so if you have a rooftop tent, or car camping, these won’t work.
A loop seemed to have larger, wooded, sites with more privacy. B loop was wide open. The tent sites were great in both loops though.
The restrooms were ancient. They could use some updates, but they were clean and functional, and there were multiple facilities throughout the campground.
There’s a camp store at the check in area, they have the essentials, and they do have ice. The ladies working in there were really nice and helpful too.
Oak Mountain is a great spot to camp, just go when there’s not a heat wave in Alabama, and you have time to explore the park!
Dauphin Island is an amazing place! The island is not very large, but has lots to do. There are several good restaurants, ice cream shops, a great seafood market called Skinners, where you can order fresh seafood from the steamer (we ordered crab legs twice during our stay 😋), parks, bike paths across the entire island, great fishing, a bird sanctuary, an Estuarium (similar to an aquarium), and beautiful white sand beaches, just to name a few!
We stayed at the Dauphin Island Campground in the tent area on site 8. The check in process was fairly time consuming , as it is all written out by hand. Check out is the same way, and they don’t take online reservations. The people in the office are amazing though, so it was ok!
The campground map is not accurate for site selection. We were first given site 5, which looked great on the map, but was not great for our rooftop tent. Also, there is no way to see the ocean from ANY site, so don’t think you’ll have ocean view. On the map I thought we might be able to have a glimpse of the Gulf, but not so. Site 8 was perfect for us, nice shady spot with view of the trees in the bird sanctuary. All tent sites have water and electric hookups. They do not allow anything to be hung from trees, including hammocks, so bring hammock stand if you plan to use them.
The RV sites are all pretty close to each other. The row nearest the bay has water views, but is also next to the road and auto ferry. Several long time residents stay at this campground, Possibly seasonal.
The restrooms/bathhouse was immaculate! They have a designated cleaning at 9-9:30 daily, and they were in excellent shape. There’s also laundry facilities on site. There’s a camp store, and a fish cleaning station, and playground as well.
Beach access is in the back of the campground near the tent sites, we took our bikes and that was the best way to get there. It took us less than a minute to be on the beach. The beach was fairly empty and that’s what we loved the most! Like having our own private beach. Take a cart to haul your chairs, umbrella, etc, or plan on packing it on your back like we did. The people who were fishing were catching fish the whole time, so if you enjoy fishing, this is a great spot.
We absolutely LOVED Dauphin Island, and will definitely return, but if we come back in the summer, we will bring the pop up tent so we can have A/C, as it is blazing hot!
If you enjoy being in the woods alone, and free camping, this is the spot for you! We camped one night at the Hollins WMA camping area, and we were literally the only people there! I imagine it might be different during hunting season, but we stayed a night in early August and we were all alone!
We arrived at the campground late, as we were just looking for a place to camp for one night on our way to another campground, luckily the directions link on The Dyrt lead us right to it, via google maps. There is a Christmas tree farm at the entrance of the WMA, so when you see it, you’re close to the entrance, and the campground is a couple miles in, just keep going until you see the sign.
The camp is truly primative, however the road was in good shape, and the area is great. Lots of level spots, you can see the remnants of campfires, but it appeared as if no one has been there for some time. There’s no restrooms, water, electric, etc, but nature! Which is way better, if u ask me!
This spot was definitely one of the nicest free camping spots we’ve been to. Didn’t see any trash, and there were so many level spots to choose from. Really a great spot for us!
Pickett State Park is a great spot to camp if you like peace and quiet, but don’t want to have to backpack in to a spot. Despite the small campground, it was pretty much empty on the first weekend in August when we stayed. It is near the Big South Fork, and Scott State Forest, so there’s lots of great hiking, horseback riding, river recreation, etc. nearby. From other reviews on The Dyrt, I learned the park is excellent for stargazing, and it is true, you will have amazing views at night, we slept in a tent without a rain fly, just so we could see the stars!
The campground has several sites with electric and some without. We stayed in B1, which did not have electric. All the sites have picnic tables and fire rings, and the ones on the outside of the loops back up to the woods and trails. All the sites are spacious.
The restrooms were clean, but they must be pretty old. There were some areas in need of tile repair, but it was just a cosmetic issue, so it didn’t bother me. The showers were nice, and everything was clean.
The campground also has cabins, and those seemed to have more guests than the campground. They have a set of cabins that were connected, like apartments, and they have some larger, freestanding cabins too. They had a group site as well, but I did not go to it.
The park has a lake with swimming area, and canoe/kayak/paddle board rentals, a swinging bridge, playground, tennis courts, a gigantic picnic area, and several great trails.
This was a very pleasant find, and we will definitely return!
Yarberry Campground is a gated lakefront campground and day use area located on Tellico Lake, not far from the Fort Loudon Dam. The Fort Loudon Marina is also close by, and Calhoun’s restaurant is there too.
The campground is set up perfectly for every site to be good! Most sites are lakefront, and I believe all have a lake view. All have fire rings, picnic tables, and all I saw were pretty level. The sites are large and spaced out so you don’t feel right on top of your neighbors.
The tent area is not huge, but large enough for probably 4-5 tents to have lots of room, maybe more. This would be perfect for groups camping together. There’s a parking lot outside the tent area, so a rooftop tent would not work here, you’d need an individual site.
The day use area is nice, with a roped off swimming area, kayak rentals, picnic tables, a basketball court, etc. there’s also a boat launch for boats.
The restrooms were nice and clean, and individual rooms with a shower and toilet. There are two bathhouses in the campground, I just used one of them, so I assume they were both the same.
This is a great spot on the lake, and I can’t wait to return when we can stay longer!
I recently learned that TVA land is free to camp on, so I sought out some close to me and found Fork Bend. If you want to get away from people, this place is for you. Fork Bend is a heavily wooded forest surrounded by Norris Lake, which is known for being the best lake around the area.
You can camp anywhere you’d like, so we found a great spot right on the lake. Unfortunately there’s a lot of trash around, it’s truly a shame some people pollute something so beautiful.
You won’t find restrooms, hookups, picnic tables, or anything like that, this is just public land for recreation. Hunting is allowed also, so be aware of hunting season dates. The road through the land is gravel, but it’s fairly rutted out in spots, so I don’t think I’d take a car through there, you’d be safe to take a truck or Jeep or something similar.
We enjoy truly being away from it all in nature, and the amazing lake, so we will be using this spot on a regular basis!
Holpps Pine Ridge Lake is truly a hidden gem! This campground wasn’t listed on The Dyrt, and was even hard to find in a Google search, so I wasn’t sure what to expect, but the place is amazing! A private, family owned lake, which was built by the family in the 50’s or 60’s. The family lives on site, and runs the place, and they are some of the nicest people you’ll find! The campground is not crowded, and I was able to reserve two lakefront sites a week before arrival in July!
It is located in Monterey, TN near hwy 127, which is the site of the “World’s Longest Yard Sale”, so there’s lots of picking to be done nearby, if you’re in to that sort of thing!
The lake is a nice sized lake, large enough for boats and jet ski’s, but calm enough for kayaks and paddle boards. You can get on a float and relax, swim, fish, whatever you want and the water is calm and clear. They sometimes have small fishing tournaments there, and one was going on one of the nights we stayed, roughly 8-10 boats took off around 5pm and returned at 11pm. They also have a picnic pavilion, and an area for weddings.
The campground used to be only primitive, but they recently added hookups, they have several waterfront sites, and all the sites are lake view. They still have a tent area, and day use area. They also have a couple lakefront cabins for rent. They have a playground for children, and a roped off swimming area, although we swam near our campsite. They have 2 bathhouses, they are basic block buildings, but the water is warm, and they are relatively clean.
There is a camp store with all the essentials, plus kayak rentals, a deli, and Mayfield ice cream by the scoop! Everything is priced very reasonably too!
We stayed on A11 and A10, both lakefront, and it was perfect. The sites are very level, and easy water access for kayaks or swimming, or fishing from the bank. We had the red pop-up on site 11, and the tent on 10. Those sites are pretty close to each other. If using a tent, you’d want a tent pad, or air mattress, as the surface is small gravel. All sites have fire rings and picnic tables.
We loved our stay here and definitely plan to return!
This is a place you really need to experience! The campground is multi acres of woods, it’s first come first served, but it’s so large, I can imagine it ever being too crowded. The cost is $5 per person, paid via honor system in the mailbox when you enter. It’s perfect for tents. We were limited on site selection with our rooftop tent, and I saw a couple teardrop campers, but you can’t take anything larger. There are several structures on the property for gathering around a fire pit, if you want to be social, or just walk up to the brewery! The campground did offer a family/group camp site on the other side of the brewery, but I don’t know that this is a place for kids. It was pretty wild at night! A live band playing until the early morning hours, and drinks flowing among the thru hikers and rock climbers, bachelorette party group, and gypsies staying in the campground!
Two portable toilets were in the campground, they could use a good cleaning, but depending on the site you choose, you probably would be better off just using nature anyway.
The brewery serves beer that’s brewed on site, with hops also grown on site! Super cool! They have a food truck there too, where they serve pulled pork sandwiches, nachos, hot dogs and sausages, etc.
We will return to the Lilly Pad, but will take a tent and seek out a more secluded site, and will take advantage of the swimming hole, and the Obed River nearby!
Campground Review- Cades Cove is one of the most scenic areas in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The 11 mile loop through Cades Cove is beautiful and full of wildlife. The road is paved, and is closed to car traffic on Saturday’s and Wednesday’s until 10am, so it is great to take a bike, or go on foot and explore! We always see lots of deer, turkeys, and sometimes bears and coyotes. Abrams Falls is a popular hike, it’s roughly 5 miles round trip, is moderately difficult, and has a beautiful waterfall at the end, but beware of swimming there, several deaths have occurred at Abrams Falls, even from strong swimmers.
The Campground at Cades Cove is heavily wooded, with lots of sites, none of them have electricity hook ups, but the B loop allows generators, the C loop does not allow them. The sites are fairly close, but each site has plenty of room to not feel cramped.
The restrooms do not have showers, but do have flush toilets, and were well maintained and clean. The campground has a nice store that has the approved heat treated firewood, ice, souvenirs, ice cream, and other things you might need. I believe you can rent bikes there too. This area is extremely crowded during summer and peak seasons, so plan accordingly!
Product Review- *Ranger Review- Wenzel Moonshine Shade As a ranger for The Dyrt, I sometimes get cool gear to test and review, so today I’m reviewing the Moonshine Shade from Wenzel. The Shade arrived on Friday morning, the day I was heading to Cades Cove, with rain in the forecast I was so pumped I got it in time to take! I have been looking for a lightweight canopy to replace the big, bulky ez up we’ve been using, the Moonshine Shade weighs in at 14lbs, and fits in a small carrying case! The first time setting it up, it was in the rain, and I should have actually read the Instructions, instead of skimming over them! Lol. But I figured it out, and in hindsight, i made it way harder than it actually is. It is really a quick 5 minute set up, and the 9x12 area actually provides more shade than the 10x10 canopy, especially with the movable side wall.
The Moonshine Shade from Wenzel is a fantastic product, and excellent for camping, or any outdoor event! Find it here- Wenzelco.com