Explore America's Campgrounds
The state of Tennessee describes itself as "America at its best," and you'll find tent camping at its best within its boundaries. Whether you like sites with a secluded feel that have hot showers and other modern amenities a few steps away or want to hike for miles into the backcountry to pitch your tent, you'll find the perfect site to suit your camping style.
Head for the Hills
The Great Smoky Mountains offer plenty of opportunity to get away from it all in rugged hills spanning half a million acres along the border with the state of North Carolina. Whether you're looking for a developed campground where you can pitch a tent with the kids or seek solitude at one of 100 sites lying along the park's 800 miles of trail, you'll find a spot that works for you. Each of the park's 10 developed campgrounds has a fire ring and picnic table at each site, flush toilets and cold running water, although there are no showers in the park. Two of the campgrounds -- Cades Cove and Smokemont -- are open year-round. Reserve backcountry sites in advance through the park's online reservation system or by telephone.
Something to Sing About
Tennessee is famous for its country music legends, made famous on Nashville's well-known stage, the Grand Ole Opry. Visiting Nashville's many attractions doesn't mean you have to sacrifice in-town convenience for an outdoorsy campsite. Pitch your tent at Anderson Road Recreation Area on the east side of the city and throw a line in the water, hike, bike, swim or boat. Hot showers and flush restrooms with electricity let you spiff up before visits to city attractions. The park's features get you back to nature with more than 14,000 surface acres of water, fitness trails and a swimming beach nestled among rolling green hills.
No Bugs, No Booze
The prolific bat population at Appalachian Caverns Campground keeps mosquitoes and other pests at minimal population, making this the ideal place for those who find themselves constantly under attack on a camping trip. The family-friendly campground prohibits alcohol consumption within its boundaries and has sites centered around a fire ring with grill and picnic table. Take a 1-mile tour into the depths of the cavern or book more adventurous spelunking excursions where you'll climb and crawl through undeveloped recesses. The campground lies 10 minutes from world-renowned bass fishing at Boone Lake and the Bristol Motor Speedway.
A Simple Way of Life
Slow down to a horse's pace in Tennessee Amish country where you can taste Amish cooking and buy crafts and wares in Lawrenceburg and nearby towns in Lawrence County. David Crockett State Park tucks among limestone bluffs and forestland on the edge of Lawrenceburg with six miles of hiking trails rambling through the park's 1,100 acres. A paved bike trail, Olympic-sized swimming pool and 40-acre lake offer the opportunity to take part in your favorite outdoor activities, and more than 100 campsites let you enjoy the natural surroundings for days on end. Campground No. 1 has eight primitive sites nestled along Shoal Creek open from mid-April through November. The parks remaining sites are open year-round and provide water and electric hookups to each site. Enjoy hot showers and flush toilets on-site, as well as a grill, fire ring and table at your campsite.
Indulging her passion for wide open spaces and outdoor fitness through the written word on a full-time basis since 2010, author Jodi Thornton-O'Connell takes the mystery out of outdoor skills and guides readers to discover fun ways to physically connect to natural surroundings.