The 5 Best Places to Camp in Tennessee this Summer

Written by Cindy Rasmussen
Published: August 24, 2022
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Whether you want to enjoy Tennessee’s Great Smoky Mountains or visit Elvis’s mansion in Graceland, there are many great options for camping in Tennessee. Watch for wildlife along the Appalachian Trail or try to catch a record-breaking bass in Lake Kentucky. If you are ready to pack your tent or load up your camper, here are the 5 best places to camp in Tennessee this summer!

1. Great Smoky Mountains National Park: Cades Cove Campground

Look at this view of the Great Smoky Mountains! Definitely one of the best places to camp in Tennessee this summer!

©Trent Carmichael/

If you want a stay with access to miles of trails through the Great Smoky Mountains (one leads you to a beautiful waterfall!) then camping at Cades Cove Campground is the place to be. Located about 45 miles SE of Knoxville right in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park you can camp at one of the RV sites or tent sites. Take the 5-mile round trip hike to Abrams Falls. Keep your eyes open for white-tail deer, turkey, skunks and maybe even a black bear. After a day of hiking head back to your campsite for some hot dogs over the fire and a peaceful night in the mountains!

Cades Cove Campground
Location45 miles SE of Knoxville in the Great Smokies
Nearest CityTownsend, TN
RV/Tent Sites160 sites, nonelectric, RV or Tent
Picnic Tables at each siteYes
Fire Pit at each siteYes
AmenitiesRestrooms (flush toilets), Drinking Water, Camp Store,
Bike Rentals (May-October)
Pet FriendlyYes
What makes it one of the bestCamping right in the Smokies!

2. Graceland RV Park and Campground, Memphis, TN

If you want to camp right near everything downtown Memphis has to offer try the Graceland RV Park and Campground (you can walk to Graceland!).


If you are visiting Memphis and want to stay near Graceland and other Memphis attractions, then the Graceland RV Park and Campground is a great option. The campground is walking distance to Elvis Presley’s home at Graceland and makes a great home base for visiting all that Memphis has to offer. Come back to swim in the pool after a day visiting Graceland, the Memphis Zoo and Sun Studio. Maybe you can try your hand at some Karaoke around the campfire (or maybe not) while you cook up some s’mores. Definitely one of the best places to camp in Tennessee this summer!

Graceland RV Park and Campground
Location9 miles south of downtown Memphis
Nearest CityMemphis, TN
RV Sites w/full hookupYes, water/electric/sewer, 30 & 50 amp
RV/Tent sites water and electric (back-in only)Yes, back-in sites only, limited availability
Primitive TentYes
Picnic Tables at each siteYes
Fire Pit at each siteYes
AmenitiesRestroom, Bathhouse, Laundry, Camp Store,
Swimming Pool, Playground, Free wireless
Pet FriendlyYes
What makes it one of the bestWalking distance to Graceland!

3. Fall Creek Falls State Park

Cane Creek Cascades

Fall Creek Falls State Park has multiple waterfalls that you can hike to. There are 5 camping areas with 222 campsites to choose from.

©Kannan Sundaram/

One of the highest waterfalls in the east is the Fall Creek Falls in Tennessee. You can camp right in the park with the falls, where you can hike on one of the 35 miles of trails or bring your mountain bike for some of the 24 miles of mountain biking trails. Bring your binoculars for birding because you might see a red-headed woodpecker, barred owl or bald eagle. Stop by the visitor center for arts and crafts, organized games, movie nights and campfires.

The large campground is spread out in 5 different areas with 222 campsites, 30 cabins, 85-room lodge with hotel amenities. A little bit of something for everyone. For camping you can choose from an RV site with full hookups to one of the primitive tent sites. There are also 3 backcountry camping sites that you can do an overnight hike to.  

Fall Creek Falls State Park
LocationCentral Tennessee, about 70 miles north of Chatanooga
Nearest CitySpencer, TN
RV/Tent Sites222 sites, 92 with full hookups water/electric/sewer,
spread out in 5 areas
Primitive Tent Sites16 sites
Backcountry sites3 sites
Picnic Tables at each siteYes
Fire Pit and grill at each siteYes
AmenitiesRestrooms, Bathhouses, Laundry, Playgrounds, Swimming pool,
The Village store and restaurant, 18-hole golf course
Pet FriendlyYes
What makes it one of the bestResort-like accommodations with swimming pool,
golf and restaurants!

4. Along the Appalachian Trail: “The Barn” Overmountain Shelter

Appalachian National Scenic Trail

The Appalachian National Scenic Trail passes along the border of Tennessee and North Carolina.

©EWY Media/

In contrast to the resort-like Fall Creek Falls Campground, camping at the primitive overmountain shelter along the Appalachian Trail has just the basics. “The Barn” as they call it is actually an old barn that is now one of the largest shelters along the AT. The trail is along the border between Tennessee and North Carolina and although “The Barn” is technically in North Carolina, it is right on the border of Tennessee and a great place to camp when hiking the Appalachian Trail. The hike from Carvers Gap through the Roan Highlands to the shelter is 10.9 miles RT, so an overnight stay is welcomed. There are multiple summits along the trail with amazing views.

“The Barn” Overmountain Shelter
LocationAlong the Appalachian Trail, Carvers Gap to the
Overmountain Shelter
Nearest CityRoan Mountian, TN
Tent only sitesThe second story of the barn provides shelter for campers
Picnic TablesYes
Fire PitYes, a large fire pit is onsite
AmenitiesJust the shelter, picnic tables and fire pit
Pet FriendlyYes
ReservationsYou need a permit to hike the trail but not to camp
What makes it one of the bestThe largest shelter on the Appalachian Trail with
amazing views!

5. Birdsong Resort Marina and Campground: Lake Kentucky (on the Tennessee side)

Blue Catfish

Camping and fishing go hand in hand! One of the best places to camp in Tennessee this summer is also the best place to fish. Try the Birdsong Resort Marina and Campground right on Lake Kentucky.

©M Huston/

On the northern border with Kentucky is the largest lake (and one of the best fishing lakes) in Tennessee. Lake Kentucky is a beautiful, man-made lake along the Tennessee River that is great for swimming, boating, paddling and fishing. The lake is known for its crappie, black bass, white bass, stripers, bluegill and catfish!

The Birdsong Resort Marina and Campground is right on the lake on the Tennessee side and offers 58-acres of campsites, boat slips, trails and a very unique freshwater pearl farm (the only one in the country). Choose from RV, wilderness camping or cabins at the campground. The campground is right on the lake and has its own marina where you rent a boat slip or rent boats. Definitively one of the best places to camp in Tennessee this summer!

Birdsong Resort Marina and Campground
LocationBetween Jackson and Nashville, TN
Nearest CityCamden, TN
RV Sites50 RV sites, some with full hookup
Tent SitesYes, primitive grassy sites right on the water
Picnic Tables at each siteYes
Fire Pit at each siteYes
AmenitiesRestrooms, Showers, Playground, Swimming Pool,
Basketball, Volleyball, Community Center
Pet FriendlyYes
What makes it one of the bestFamily lakeside campground!

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Fowler

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About the Author

I'm a Wildlife Conservation Author and Journalist, raising awareness about conservation by teaching others about the amazing animals we share the planet with. I graduated from the University of Minnesota-Morris with a degree in Elementary Education and I am a former teacher. When I am not writing I love going to my kids' soccer games, watching movies, taking on DIY projects and running with our giant Labradoodle "Tango".

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