I stumbled upon this gem and can not wait until it opens! It looked to be close when I was there in October, but I'm sure the hurricanes that passed through delayed progress. Premium lake front spots, lake access, boat dock and slips, a restaurant and bar, bathhouses, etc. and the spots are all level concrete pads. The lake is pristine in this area and you can walk right to the "beach". Really excited for this place!
South Toledo Bend State Park is located near Leesville on Toledo Bend lake. The lake is known for Bass Fishing and is listed as one of the best bass fishing lakes in the country. I’ve also read that the lake has great areas for scuba diving, if you are into that. The park is not far from Fort Polk, and offers nice opportunities for camping, hiking, boating, fishing, kayaking, etc. The campsites are mostly all heavily wooded, and spacious. Plenty of room between sites. They have several waterfront sites with hookups, but the I terror sites were nice also, and most have a lake view. The park has docks for fishing and boat launch, and a fish cleaning station. Theres a nice playground too. There’s also rental cabins that looked really nice. The park was still being cleaned up from hurricane Laura, but was still very nice. The best place to camp I’ve seen around this area!
JD’s RV park is located near Fort Polk in Leesville. The park is right on the road, and you will hear the traffic. The property is just a field and could use some improvements. The road needs gravel and trash was piled up. Like most rv parks, there’s long term residents here. If you needed to be nearby the base, you could stay here for a night, but this is not a spot for a nice weekend stay. Toledo Bend lake is not far away, and I saw some nice camping areas there. This spot could be a decent place for a stay over with some clean up and improvements.
Arlington RV park is located in Leesville, close to Fort Polk. The rv park is right off the road, and you can hear cars going by easily from anywhere in the rv park. This is a true rv park, but was fairly clean and maintained compared to others in the area. This is not a place to go if you are looking to have a nice relaxing camping experience, you would want to be on the Toledo bend lake for that, but would be sufficient if you have a camper and needed to be near the base, or in Leesville for some reason. Like several rv parks, Arlington has long term residents, with a few sites for people passing through.
Pelican Acres RV park is located near Fort Polk, and Toledo Bend Lake. The RV park is right off the road, and is a better choice than several of the rv parks in the area. The sites all look fairly level, and the property was well maintained. Like most rv parks in the area, this one has a number of long term residents, but this one was a little bigger and nicer than most I saw. If you were passing through the area, or needed to be near the base, this would be a good place to stop for a day or two, but if you’re looking for a nice relaxing camp spot, you’ll want to look closer to the lake.
Whooping Crane Farm is located In such a great spot, just outside Nashville, it is easy to get to, but convenient to everything. The camp spot is fantastic! Right on the Cumberland River, the spot is very secluded, and plenty of space for a group.
I would recommend bringing camp chairs, in case you want to sit in a shady spot, or by the water. The site has a picnic table, grill, and solar shower, however I would bring a tarp for privacy if you actually plan to use it, as the river is a busy place in the summer, and the shower is in clear view from the water.
There is a pond on the property, which the host, Ellen, allowed us to fish in. The River would be difficult to access, at least while we were there in late August, as there is a big drop off from the bank. I’m not sure if this is normal, or if the water lever was low.
The“loo” is a pop up tent with a bucket toilet in it. It was equipped with poop bags and toilet paper. The glamping tent was awesome. The bed was very comfortable.
We had some heavy rains overnight, and did have some dripping water from the center seam of the tent and had to scoot the bed over, but other than that, I slept like a baby. We love this spot so much, we plan to return later in the fall!
Starpoint Marina campground is just a little sliver of space, right on Dale Hollow Lake, next to Starpoint Marina. The lake is absolutely beautiful, one of the few lakes I’ve ever been to without any docks on it, other than marinas. The water is a really pretty shade of turquoise and is very clear. The campground is very small, very little privacy, but you are right in the lake. There’s a small bathhouse, which I did not go in, as we have a camper. I would recommend this campground if you are have a boat, or a rental at the Marina. The Marina store has plenty of essentials, and ice cream! But if you need to run out, civilization is nearby. We stay here when we visit family who have a boat at this marina so it’s an easy choice, but there are a few other campgrounds on this lake that would be worth checking out if you weren’t tied to this one in particular
Cumberland Mountain state park was a great place to visit. Located in. Crossville, not too far from I40, and really close to town so if you need to get anything, it’s an easy trip. The park was larger than I expected. I brought my bike and I was glad, as it made exploring the park easier. There’s several playground throughout, plus the lake has kayak, paddle boat, canoe, and paddle board rentals, so there’s a lot to do! There’s also a small aviary, and most of the birds were visible when I stopped by. My site was in loop 3, #86, and it was perfect! Plenty of space, and we didn’t feel like we were on top of each other. We had water and electric, but no sewer hookups. I noticed the sites in loop 1 had sewer hookups, but loop 3 did not. They have really nice looking cabins for rent also. The section for cabins is near the lake. They had multiple sizes too. The campground was full, but surprisingly quiet, except for the cicadas at night! Very peaceful. We really enjoyed our time at Cumberland mountain, and will definitely return!
Mountain cove marina and campground is located near Douglas Dam. The marina looked pretty nice, but the campground didn’t do it for me. There’s a lot of long term campers in this one. I did not see water access from the campground either, but it could have been in the back section that I didn’t scope out. I just didn’t see the appeal for this place, with so many other good options nearby.
Fontana Village Resort Campground is a small campground right next to Fontana Dam. You can’t enter the water here, but there is water access nearby. The drive to the area is cool, if you drive on Hwy 129, you’ll drive through the 11 mile section known as “The Dragon”. The iconic drive is a popular route for bikes and sport cars, due to the number of curves and switchbacks, and you can pick up souvenirs at local shops around. The campground was basically deserted when we were there on a Sunday evening. There are water and electric hookups at most sites. There’s not much privacy between sites, it’s pretty much wide open, with only a few trees scattered throughout the campground. I expected to have more trees in the North Carolina Mountains. I went in the restrooms, they were awful. I can’t imagine showering in that place. I chose to just use nature’s facilities. I was overall disappointed in this campground, as the area is so pretty, I expected better.
Big South Fork NRRA is definitely one of my favorite places in Tennessee. It stretches into Kentucky’s too. So much to do and see, and the hiking and camping is equal to the Smokies in my opinion, except there’s no crowds, no traffic, not many people! It’s great! There’s a few campgrounds in BSF, like Bandy Creek and Station Camp,and they are excellent spots, but the backcountry is where it’s at n the BSF! I have found so many excellent camp sites along the river and in the forest, and I’ve always been able to find one with plenty of privacy on any given weekend. There’s lots of hiking, 4-wheeling, fishing, swimming, mountain biking, horse riding, kayaking, rock climbing, etc here. The possibilities are endless! The sounds at night are so peaceful and relaxing, and the lightning bugs put on quite a show in the summer! I tried to make a video, I don’t think you can see them, but you can hear the woods at night!
Bear Den Family Campground is a great place to camp right off The Blue Ridge Parkway. The drive is so scenic, offering arguably some of the best mountain views of the smokies. The surrounding area is just beautiful, lots of hiking opportunities, or just sightseeing. We found a winery nearby, Linville Falls Winery, and it was amazing. We also visited a town called Little Switzerland, and it was so neat! The campground was very clean and well maintained, and is pretty large, with amazing tent sites, as well as rv sites. There’s a small lake for fishing (posted-no license required), and also has a roped off swimming area. There’s a camp store, however it was closed due to COVID-19, but we were able to grab some firewood and ice and they just charged my card. I also saw a few playgrounds, a basketball court, and an event shelter. The tent loop was very impressive, the sites were spacious and secluded, with lots of trees between, and mostly all would be good for a rooftop tent, or hammock camping. The hookup sites were nice, most I saw looked mostly level. Bear Den is a great place, we look forward to returning!
Big Ridge State Park has two options for camping, the campground with hookups and bathroom facilities, or three backcountry sites. So this review is for the backcountry. There are three choices of sites in then backcountry, and we stayed at Sharps Station Site. First of all, this was a beast of a hike, both in and out. I plan to never do it again! It is extremely strenuous, with some serious elevation changes, very steep terrain, and overgrown brushy trails that will leave your arms and legs scratched up. Not to mention, the sites are so confusing! The trail maps don’t have the sites clearly marked, and either the booking system, or the signage is incorrect, making is difficult to figure out how to get to your site. For example, when I booked Sharps Station site, it shows it as being #3, but on the signs in the park, the Sharps station site is listed as campsite #2, and the dark hollow sites are #1 and #3. Another issue with the maps, is that it shows the Sharps station site as being on the water, and that is not the case. The site is above the water, on a ridge, so you have to hike another .20 miles down and back up to get your water. So here’s how you get to Sharps Station Site- park at the grist mill, walk right for approx. .2 to the big valley trailhead, follow big valley trail to Indian rock trail, it’s a loop, so you can go either way, we went counterclockwise, and had to go down the super steep terrain. If you go clockwise, you will come to the Sharps station trail before you get to the site, and you can decide if you want to camp down on the water, or hike up .2 to the site. That being said, if you still choose to make the grueling hike to camp at Sharps station site, do yourself a favor and hit the Sharps station trail and camp on the water. Plenty of spots on that short trail. I gave this site only two stars because I feel like there are plenty of other areas you can find backcountry sites that are as good or better with a whole lot less effort to get to. However, we did not see anyone once we got on the Indian rock trail, so you will be all alone out there, and that is nice. And the hike in and out might be better in the early spring or later in fall when it’s not so overgrown with blackberries and such. I don’t believe I’ll hike this place ever again, I may put in my kayak and paddle over to the site, but that hike is no joke!
I always enjoy camping on WMA land. The North Cumberland, Royal Blue Unit is a huge area. The part we camped in was very quiet, woodsy, and tons of decent campsites right off the road. We were in our rooftop tent, so we we’re looking to drive in and had several options. There were several fields you could rent camp in though. The road was pretty rough in some places so I would recommend having 4wd just to be safe. Royal Blue is known locally as a great spot for ATV/UTV riding. I think for the most part, the best areas of the WMA are right off the exit (141). The area is full of Elk too, so keep an eye out! The entrance to the area we were in is a few miles off the exit, just past the Pioneer post office. We did not see nor hear another person or vehicle until on our way out in the late morning, we passed 4 UTV’s coming in. The area was very clean, and I always appreciate seeing natural areas being trash free! We had full cell service at our spot, we were on top of a ridge, there was another road that was going down, I’m not sure you would have service down there. I have camped at lots of WMA’s, this one was convenient, clean, and quiet, so I would return. Just remember, hunting is allowed in this area, so you can’t be there unless hunting during season. But summer is open!
Raccoon Valley RV park is literally just an RV park. The park was very clean and well maintained, and would be a nice place to park for a night as part of a longer trip. The RV park is just right off 1-75, just north of Knoxville, so it would be easy to hop on and off the interstate. The property is just a large gravel parking lot, with a few trees scattered throughout. Not really my kind of camping, but nearly all the spots were full.
The park has a large laundry facility, and a dog park for people traveling/camping with pets. I did see some benches located in the perimeter of the property in shady spots for relaxing.
I assume some of the guests are long term residents, but the sites were all so neat and clean, without built on structures and such that I’ve seen at most places. This RV park will be perfect for some!
Volunteer RV park is right off I-75, on the outskirts of Knoxville. There’s not much around this area, but I think this would be a good place to stay a night or two on a longer trip. The campground is right off the road, but it is very large, and surprisingly wooded, so you could avoid road noise with an interior site, and it could be relaxing for a night. There are several long term residents, but there were a good number of open sites.
The park has a playground with a wooden pirate ship for kids, and a really nice pool. It was crystal clear. The office has essentials, ice, and firewood. There is a laundry facility on the property too.
I can’t say this would be an ideal camping spot for me personally, but for someone looking to stop somewhere off I-75 for a night or two, this place would be a great choice.
Adventures Unlimited is located in Ocoee, TN, just outside of Chattanooga, and is one of the coolest river towns I’ve been to. The Ocoee River was the site for the 1996 Olympics whitewater events. There are numerous outfitters for everything you can do on the river, and this place is the best we’ve visited. We did the Classic Middle Ocoee Rafting Adventure, with Leon as our guide. He was awesome! He wore a Viking helmet (which looks really cool in our pics!) and had vast knowledge of the river and area, and said he’s been guiding for 20 years, so yeah, the best! I would highly recommend Leon if you take a trip!
The campground is HUGE for tent camping. There are hundreds of great tent sites, and the whole place has a great vibe. I wouldn’t really recommend it for children, it feels more like a grown up place, as the area is filled with kayakers, guides, college kids, etc., and these people have FUN! And there’s the Bus Bar, which I’ll cover in a bit. We stayed in site 13 on the rv sites, and it was nice. All the sites are spacious, most have plenty of shade, except for 6,7,8, they are in the middle and not much shade there. The rv sites have water and electric, and they have a dump station. The bath house is at the front entrance, it was very clean, with 4 restrooms and showers. They also have bungalows, and they looked awesome.
This place has two restaurants, The Cafe was closed, I’m assuming due to covid, I believe they serve breakfast and lunch there. And The Bus Bar- this place is a must! They have literally converted two yellow school busses into a bar! The restrooms are in one of the busses and the other is where the actual bar is. They have live music on weekends, and there is a very eclectic vibe. Great people watching! You will hear music from your campsite until around midnight. We didn’t try the food, but they have pizza and wings on their menu, so what else do you need?!
The office is where you check in for rafting, they also sell ice, water shoes, t-shirts, etc. and the people in there were super friendly. This is one of my favorite “fun” places we’ve stayed, it truly was an adventure! We will definitely be returning!
This was my second time staying at Yarberry, last year we stayed in a tent sight, this time we were in an RV site. So this review will be for the RV sites, and some new things I learned about the campground. We were in site 48, it’s at the top of the campground, and like pretty much all sites in the campground, has lake views. We even had a fireworks show going on one night across the lake. All the sites have good spacing and are extremely well maintained. The entire campground is immaculate. Note- it is a gated campground, so be sure to get the code if you are arriving late.
The campground has a boat launch, for a fee. There’s also slips available, I’m not sure what the cost would be, but would be nice if you have a boat or jet ski or something to park it at a slip.
I also discovered more tent sites, with electric, and they would be perfect for a rooftop tent. The waterfront tent area is walk in from the parking lot, so you would not be able to get a RTT down to them.
The swimming area is in a great spot with a sandy beach. There are also other areas around the campground where you could enter the water with floats, kayaks, paddle boards, etc. They also rent all of those things, as well as paddle boats. They rent bikes too. The store has firewood, essentials, floats, ice cream, etc.
The campground is in Lenoir City, and it’s just a short drive to restaurants and stores for anything you need.
I love this campground, and plan to try to book an extended stay next year! Highly recommend it!
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!