Mike G.


Nashville, TN

Joined May 2019

A tent-camper turned "part-time full-time" RV'er. Essentials = bike, paddle board, and coffee grinder.

Amazing river swimming, but try to come mid-week if you can!


--Tons of swimming in the rivers and"shut-ins" throughout the park(just remember to wear water shoes if you can; it's VERY gravely)

--Lots of trails

--Nice, mellow bike path connecting the two main campgrounds and the very fun camp store(look up on the ceiling!)

--Tall pines(I love tall pines, that's all) 

Cons: DISCLAIMER-- We were here on a weekend in August, so I suspect our experience was very much shaped by that….

--Campground was PACKED and LOUD

--Campground was PACKED and LOUD

--Campground was PACKED and LOUD 

Okay, I think you get the picture with the campground itself. It was one of those things that made me feel like a cranky old man, saying,"man, why can't these people stop trying to show-off their lame-ass stereos???" That said, the park itself was beautiful. 

The main attraction is the water. The river twists and turns through the park. It's shallow, gently flowing, and VERY clear pretty much everywhere(except a few places where it was stagnant!). PRO TIP!!! Since the campground was PACKED and LOUD, most people seemed to not venture too far from the campground itself, so if you want your own private swimming spots, you can hike a relatively short distance and grab one. We did the short"shut-ins" trail and found a perfect one. 

BOTTOM LINE: If you want any peace and quiet, don't stay here on the weekend. I suspect the weekdays would be better, and if you managed to schedule mid-week, I suspect it would be an incredible place to stay.

The campground is nice and clean.....but the park is GREAT!!!


-- The rivers and streams meandering through the park and all the quiet swimming spots they offer-

--Well-marked trails

--Campground is clean and well maintained (it's brand new, so not surprising)

--WiFi is crazy fast-

-The lodge (I'm not normally a"lodge" sort of person, but we stopped in and it was nice to have) 

Cons:--Campground has almost no tree cover-- not its fault, because it's a brand new park, but good to be aware of

--Campsites are packed pretty close together, so there's minimal privacy 

Echo Bluff is a new park; it opened in 2016. If you're into finding little spots to swim or just hanging out in a gently flowing, crisp, clean river this is the spot. One thing that we noticed is that people tended to go in the water right near the campground, so when we hiked a bit, or even just went behind the lodge, there were PLENTY of places where we were the only ones there. 

The trails were well maintained. I normally would've gone for a bike ride, but didn't have a chance to. That said, the roads winding through the hills here looked great. The campground itself is fine. It's not a place you come for the campground, though; the park is what Echo Bluff is all about. 

Overall people were quiet and respectful, but we did have a few times at night and early one morning when a couple of people seemed to assume that everyone at the campground wanted to hear"Boot Scoot Boogie" at full volume(incorrect). 

So….Come for the park, stay at the campground. Go in the water!!!!

The mist on the river is worth the stay


-Beautiful river with a blanket of mist over it each morning

--Quiet atmosphere(because everyone is there to fish)

--Clean and well cared for 


--Not much space between sites

--Can't swim in the water(more of a heads up than a"con") 

If you're an angler, this looks like the place to be. We're not of the fishing sort, but we enjoyed waking up early and watching the fishing boats cruise up the river and float back down. The incredible mist on the water each morning(yes, all those pictures everyone takes of it are real) is reason enough to stay for a couple of nights. 

Just a heads up, if you're looking for a wooded spot to camp, this isn't it. Sites are packed close together and there's probably as much asphalt as there is grass. But Bull Shoals is all about the fishing, so this wasn't too surprising

A classic! The amazing carved CCC signs deserve 5-stars on their own!

This was one of those "wow! who'd-a-thunk-it?" sorts of parks. Stumbled on it en route to another park a few years ago and ended up coming back because it's so great. It's a classic Civilian Conservation Corps park. Lots of trails along the creeks with some choice swimming holes when the water is high enough.

My favorite part is the tall pines. Lots of them!! They provide the best of both worlds -- a big, shaded canopy with privacy between well-spaced campsites along with a generally "open" feel.

Sites in the "A" area near the water are pretty much all pull-thru sites with less privacy. The area across the road from here ("B", if I remember) has more tree cover and more privacy.

We stayed in D loop and it was great. Sites are smaller, but it was generally quieter with fewer people.

What else?

--Hike the trails

--Enjoy the cool, classic signs

--Buy a cute stuffed animal at the camp store

--And did I mention the tall, skinny pine trees???!!!

Hidden gem, perfect for a few nights.

A big, undeveloped lake in Northern Mississippi? Yep, indeedy!!!

We stayed here for two nights to break up the long drive between Nashville and Petit Jean in Arkansas. Since we're brilliant planners and choose to travel through the southeast in August when it's 95 degrees every day, we always look for places on the water.

Don't let the less-than-poetic name deter you the South Abutment Recreation Area is beautiful. Sites are large (thank you Army Corps of Engineers) and clean (thank you other campers) and many are right on the water.

We stayed at site 19, which was great. 

If you want something right on the water, I'd recommend site 25.

Bottom line: If you're looking for somewhere on the water and quiet to stay for a few days, check this one out.

To break up potentially long stretches of driving betwe

Don't tell anyone!!!

Okay, I'll make you a deal. If you promise not to tell anyone about Oconee point, I'll do my best to tell you about it.

It's amazing!!!

As with pretty much all Army Corps of Engineers parks we've been to, the sites are large and spaced far enough apart to give privacy.

Best of all, you'd be hard pressed to find a site here that's not on the water.

"The water" in this case is Hartwell late. It's clean, clear, expansive, and largely free of development. I don't know much more about it, but we loved it. Swimming was great.

What else?

Pretty much all the sites are great, but four recommendations here:

2, 14, 69, 70.

Nestled in the woods and rolling hills

Standing stone is a small campground that sits in a wooded area surrounded by green rolling hills and farmland. Sites on the outer edges of the loop give a good deal of privacy as they back up to the woods. Sites on the inner portion of the loop leave you more exposed to other campers.

There are some small hiking trails accessible right from the campground, but for more extensive hiking, you'll need to bike or drive to the trailheads; these are definitely worthwhile. They meander among the hills, have lots of creek crossings, and were quiet -- pretty much empty! IF you're interested in gravel bike riding, there are LOTS of gravel roads to ride close to the park. In terms of water activities, there's a small pond right inside the park, but for a real paddling or boating experience, Dale Hollow Lake is the place to go and less than ten minutes away by car.

Bottom line: If you're looking for a smaller campground with private, wooded sites, and want some hiking and gravel biking, come here and grab a site that backs up to the woods. If you're looking for direct access to water sports, you'll probably want to head over to Dale Hollow.

Beautiful lakeside sites -- Paddleboard, Kayak, then watch the stars!

Lillydale sits on Dale Hollow Lake, which -- for some delightful reason -- has serious limits on development. This makes for green hillsides, clean water, minimal power boats, and very, very few houses or businesses along the shores. 

The campground itself is clean and quiet. Hosts were very kind and helpful. Many of the sites back up to the lake; we were fortunate enough to find one of the lakeside sites, and just dropped our kayaks and paddleboards right into the water. 

The lake has dozens of little "fingers" and "tendrils," making for great little coves to paddle, explore, or just find some peace and quiet.

We'll definitely be back!