One of the best things about Tennessee is the abundance of natural landscapes. There are lakes, creeks, rivers, waterfalls, gorges and acres of land covered in forests. If you enjoy being outdoors and love camping or hiking then the state has a lot to offer. There are many beautiful Tennessee State Parks that offer some of the most picturesque and scenic views along with amazing wilderness that any nature enthusiast will fall in love with.
Today, we will be taking a look at some 30 Tennessee State Parks that are open for the public to visit and enjoy. Let’s check them out.
Best Tennessee State Parks:
If you are looking to visit one of the largest Tennessee State Parks then you have to visit the Fall Creek Falls State Park. It is cradled by nature and is surrounded by beautiful landscapes. It is a popular spot for the locals.
The park spreads over 29.8k acres and includes all the natural beauties that any park needs including waterfalls, cliffs, gorges, cascades and much more. This is a popular park for campers. If you want to go camping in one of the state parks in Tennessee you can choose this one.
David Crockett State Park is another beautiful park in the state of Tennessee. This park is named after David Crockett who established a couple of industries including a powdermill, a distillery and a gristmill in the 19th century.
These were constructed in the same area where the park now stands. David was a pioneer of his time and a born leader. He always fought for the rights of his people and even got elected to Congress. You can learn more about his life from the museum at the park.
If you like waterfalls and rugged terrain then you will like Cummins Falls State Park. The Cummins Falls is one of the largest waterfalls in Tennessee by volume. It is around 75 feet in height. You need a permit to get to the gorge and the waterfall.
If you are into camping and want to visit a nice state park to camp in then this is not the one for you. Camping is not allowed here. However, you can camp at the entrance and then enjoy the day checking out the park and the waterfall.
Henry Horton State Park was constructed in the 60s by then governor Henry Horton. This is such a beautiful park. It has a diverse ecosystem thanks to the historic Duck River. If you want to feel one with nature you have to visit this park.
If you go for Tennessee State Parks camping then you can check this one out. Henry Horton State Park allows camping. You can camp your RV there or go to a traditional campsite.
This next park is located at the confluence of three rivers viz. The Caney Fork, Rocky and Collins Rivers. It is a rugged natural park which has some of the most scenic natural views. If you enjoy Tennessee State Parks camping then this can be a good option as the park does allow camping.
The entire park spreads across 883 acres. There is a beautiful waterfall which is around 30 feet in height. It once powered a cotton mill in the 19th century. This is a nice park for a bunch of activities and events.
One of the largest state parks in Tennessee is the Norris Dam State Park. It spreads across 4,000 acres. This is one of the best parks to go for camping-related activities like skiing, fishing, boating etc. since it has over 800 miles of shoreline.
This is one of the Tennessee State Parks with cabins. These are located in the woods and have all the necessary facilities. There’s a museum here as well which has artifacts depicting life in Southern Appalachia some 12,000 years ago.
The Cumberland Mountain State Park sits atop the Cumberland Plateau. This park was established as a part of the Cumberland Homesteads Project. The government basically helped people suffering from poverty to move to another place in the area where they can work on small farms.
That area is currently known as Cumberland Homestead Community and this park was created as a recreational area for families. This is one of the Tennessee State Parks with cabins. You can also go camping here.
Panther Creek State Park is a popular park that you can visit if you are looking for nice parks to go camping in. This park is located in the Holston River Valley on the Cherokee Reservoir.
This area was the home of the Native American Tribe before the settlers from East Tennessee and North Carolina moved in. If you love hiking then this park is great. The park spreads across 1444 acres and has around 17 hiking trails. These are different difficulties. So, only go for the tougher ones if you are experienced.
Big Ridge State Park is for people that like forested parks. This entire park is around 3,687 acres and is situated in the Appalachian Ridge and valley range. Beautiful scenery and the calm lake are the highlights of this park.
This is a great choice for going with your family. You can camp here or do a bunch of fun activities like hiking. The group camp has all the necessary facilities. You can park your RV there and have a nice time out in nature.
There’s a reason why this state park is named the Warriors’ Path. It was named after the Great Cherokee War. This is a popular park for people who want to spend time outdoors. It is around 950 acres.
You can do loads of water-related activities since the park is on the shore of the Patrick Henry Reservoir. If you like boating and fishing then you should check out this park. You can go here camping as well. There is a trail for mountain bikes too. So, great for people who are into it.
The next park is named after the Cedars of Lebanon State Forest since it is surrounded by the former. You will find red cedar trees in the forest and throughout the area. This area became a state park in the mid-50s.
It spreads across 1,139 acres and has around 117 sites for camping. Each of these sites has all the necessities like grills, electric hookups, picnic tables and water hookups. There is a group lodge as well. It fits around 80 people and is good for group camping.
“Also Check: 55+ Best National Parks in the U.S. (Explore Nature)“
The next park, Burgess Falls State Park, is a day-use park only. It is one of the most beautiful parks known for its natural and scenic landscapes. It is located on the Falling Water River. There are four waterfalls in the park that are over 250 feet in height.
These lands were initially used by the Cherokee and Chickasaw tribes as their hunting grounds until the development of a couple of mills on the River. Even though you cannot camp overnight at the park there are other fun activities to partake in.
Natchez Trace State Park was created under President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Under his New Deal Program around 48,000 acres of land were purchased in the area where the park stands now. This deal ensured jobs for many people.
Many of the buildings used in the park were established by the Civilian Conservation Corps and Works Progress Administration. There are a couple of nice hiking trails, including a 40-mile overnight trail, in the park. There is a museum in the park that showcases the history of the bark. Besides that, there are camping sites, cabins, and lodges.
Montgomery Bell State Park is not just a decent travel destination for outdoor enthusiasts but also a natural oasis for the locals. It is located some 40 minutes from downtown Nashville. The park spreads across 3,850 acres of land. There are 3 lakes in the park which opens up opportunities for water-related activities like boating or swimming.
There is a lodge in the park which has 117 rooms. You can experience the park by staying in the lodge. If you are looking for Tennessee State Parks with cabins this is one of them.
If you are looking for a nice park that is good for camping, has cabins and hosts events then you can check out the Chickasaw State Park. It is a 1,400-acre state park that is named after the Chickasaw Tribe who once inhabited the area.
This area became a park in 1955 as a part of the New Deal Era. There are some nice hiking trails in the park. There are camping spots for Trailers and RVs. You can also rent one of the cabins in the park.
Radnor Lake State Park is a protected park and is classified as a Class II Natural Area. There is a decent volume of wildlife in the park so you can find multiple opportunities to view some amazing creatures in the wild.
Besides that, the park also has a couple of nice trails that can be used for photography, wildlife observation, and hiking. This park is day-use only. So, you cannot camp overnight in the park. The highlight of the park is the flora and fauna here.
Many of the state parks in Tennessee used to be under the Native American tribes. The Bledsoe Creek State Park was the hunting grounds for many tribes including the Cherokee, Chickamauga, Shawnee, and Creek.
The area became a state park in the 70s. It is known for its richness in Native American history. There are some historical sites nearby as well. There are over 57 campsites in the park and more than 6 miles of hiking trails that offer scenic views. You can access the trails year-round.
Pickwick Landing State Park is a nice place to just relax and hang out with your friends and families. It is a good park for camping as well. Since it is located near the Pickwick Dam you can enjoy some water activities like boating, swimming and fishing.
If you are looking to go there you can stay in the 119-room lodge that offers a beautiful view of the lake. You can also enjoy some sports on the park ground like Tennis and golf.
Meeman-Shelby Forest State Park borders the Mississippi River and is located 13 miles north of Memphis. It is one of the largest state parks spreading over 12,359 acres of land. There are huge trees in the forest including cypress, oaks, beeches etc.
There are over 10 state champion trees and a couple of national champion trees here as well. Meeman-Shelby are around 49 campsites that have all the facilities. There are a couple of cabins as well. So, if you want to rent one you can do so.
Another State Park that is in the vicinity of the Cumberland Plateau is Cove Lake State Park. It is one of the most beautiful state parks in Tennessee nestled in a picturesque mountain valley.
If you are an ‘outdoorsy’ person or a nature enthusiast then this park can be perfect for a short excursion. Many trails lead through woodlands and wetlands that offer a perfect view of nature. The Cove Lake itself has a lot to offer. You can go boating, fishing or simply relax by the lake.
Tims Ford State Park is located on the Tims Ford Reservoir. It spreads over 3,456 acres of land mass near the Cumberland Plateau. There is a beautiful lake in the park that offers some of the most picturesque views.
If you are into fishing, boating or swimming you can go to this park as it is popular for all that. There is a marina located in the park where you can rent boats, buy snacks, baits etc. There are multiple cabins that one can rent. These are beautiful cabins with all necessities.
Long Hunter State Park is around 2,600 acres. It became a state park in 1974. There are four sections in the park viz. The Sellars Farm, the Baker’s Grove, the Bryant Grome and Couchville.
If you are looking for Tennessee State Parks that offer multiple opportunities for recreational activities then this is definitely one of them. There are hiking trails that are more than 20 miles long. If you want to go camping then this park is good for that as well. There is a lake here as well called the J. Percy Priest Lake.
Up next, we have Harrison Bay State Park. It is a 1,200-acre park one part of which is on the shoreline of Chickamauga Lake. In the early 30s, the park was developed to be the Tennessee Valley Authority recreation area. Later, in the late-30s it became a state park.
This area was under the Cherokee tribe with three villages on the parklands. This is one of the best parks for people who love to go camping, fishing, boating, golfing etc. Basically, it is a fun place to relax and be one with nature.
Reelfoot Lake State Park is a popular state park in Tennessee. The lake in the park spreads across 15,000 acres and is known for the scenic views around it. It was created as an aftereffect of a series of violent earthquakes in the early 1800s.
These quakes caused the Mississippi river to flow backwards for a period creating this lake. This makes the park basically a sort of a flooded forest. It is a great place for bird watchers and nature enthusiasts.
There are many nice Tennessee state parks with cabins and Roan Mountain State Park is one of them. This is a great park for camping or renting a cabin and having a nice time with your family.
The cabins have all the relevant necessities to ensure that your stay is enjoyable. The park spreads across 2,000 acres of forest containing hardwood trees at the base of Roan Mountain. There’s an abundance of flora and fauna in this park. So, it’s a great choice for nature lovers.
If you are a bird watcher then one of the best choices for visiting a state park would be the Seven Islands State Birding park. There are more than 190 species of bird in this park. It is located along the French Broad River and spreads over 416 acres.
Many schools and research facilities use this park for their projects and research. There are songbirds, hawks, owls and a bunch of other birds. You get a nice view of the lake and scenic views of the Smoky Mountains.
If you want to have a unique experience, one of the parks you can visit is the Dunbar Cave State Park. The Dunbar Cave is a prehistoric site. This cave has seen many dwellers for thousands of years.
One of the most significant pieces of history in the cave is the Native American art on it that dates back to the 14th century. There is a museum in the park as well where you can get some info on the cave and its significance. There’s a gift shop as well.
We did mention David Crockett earlier on the list while talking about David Crockett State Park. This park is in his birthplace i.e. Limestone in Tennessee. It is a nice state park that is great for camping and other similar activities.
This park became a state park in 1973. There are a bunch of fun activities to do here including fishing. You can get your fishing fix on the Nolichucky River. There are a couple of picnic pavilions that are available for booking.
Sometimes spending time in the wilderness is necessary. If you want to have some fun in a nice forested park then Frozen Head State Park is one of the good options. It covers 24,000 acres and is named after one of the high peaks in the Cumberland Mountains that is regularly white due to ice and snow. There are many primitive campsites in the park that you can use to go camping.
The last state park on our list is the Paris Landing State Park. It is an 841-acre park that is located around Kentucky Lake which is a reservoir formed from the Tennessee River. Since there’s a lake you can probably indulge in different fun water-related activities. There’s a nice course for playing golf as well. You can find relevant supplies in the park pro shop.
How Many State Parks Are There in Tennessee?
There are 56 state parks in Tennessee. These parks serve the purpose of not only offering recreational opportunities for people but also as a way to conserve the natural landscape that the state has been blessed with.
Are there waterfalls in Tennessee State Parks?
Yes, there are some parks that have waterfalls. Here are some of them:
- Cummins Falls State Park
- Fall Creek Falls State Park
- Burgess Falls State Park
- Fall Creek Falls
- Rock Island State Park
Is there any entry fee for Tennessee State Parks?
No. All the state parks in the state are free to access. There are restrictions imposed on some but in general, you can enter the parks for free and enjoy the natural environment and go hiking. You need permits for camping and some other activities and if you want to reserve cabins you might need to pay for them.
Which Tennessee State Park is the oldest?
The Harrison Bay State Park is the oldest of the 56 state parks in Tennessee.
Which is the largest state park in Tennessee?
Fall Creek Falls State Park is considered as the largest state park in Tennessee. It is also one of the most popular ones.
So, these were some of the most beautiful and spectacular state parks in Tennessee. Some of the parks are day-use only. If you are looking to go camping then choose the parks that allow it. Also, keep all necessities with you and only camp in the designated areas as they will generally have all the basic items that will ensure that your stay is comfortable.
Some parks have lodges. You can book a room in one and enjoy the amazing view it offers of the park. We hope you found some good info about Tennessee State Parks from this list and hope you have a great time out there.