Top 8 Family Friendly Campgrounds in Tennessee for 2020

If you are planning a family camping trip in Tennessee you are in luck!  There are many fantastic kid-friendly campground throughout this beautiful State that will provide the perfect family campsite!  There are so many fantastic campgrounds it was difficult to narrow down to the very best for families, but we did come up with the top eight!

As parents ourselves, we know what’s important for a successful family camping trip.

  1. CLEAN BATHROOMS – so important for tent campers who rely on clean, well-maintained bathrooms and showers! Even if you have a bathroom with your RV, its essential to have nice bathrooms when you are out and about exploring the parks.

  2. KIDS’ AREAS & ACTIVITIES. While it isn’t essential to have organized activities for children, they are nice to have as an option.  In addition – playgrounds and kid-friendly hiking trails are a must.

  3. CAMPSITE PRIVACY. No one wants to drive a couple hours from home with all their camping gear to just be crammed into a campsite practically on top of their neighbors!  We know we aren’t exactly back-packing into the wilderness, but bonus points for those campsites who have a measure of privacy so you can at least pretend you are miles away from society.

With these criteria in mind, here is our suggested list of best campgrounds for families – SORTED GEOGRAPHICALLY WEST TO EAST.

  1. Meeman-Shelby Forest State Park – Millington, TN
  2. Chickasaw State Park – Henderson, TN
  3. Henry Horton State Park – Chapel Hill, TN
  4. Rock Island State Park – Rock Island, TN
  5. Fall Creek Falls – Spencer, TN
  6. Cades Cove – Townsend, TN
  7. Smoky Bear Campground – Gatlinburg, TN
  8. Backbone Rock Campground & Recreation Area – Shady Valley, TN
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Meeman-Shelby Forest State Park

Top 8 Family Campgrounds in Tennessee Meeman-Shelby

Location: 910 Riddick Road
Millington, TN 38053

Phone:  910-876-5215

Website: Meeman-Shelby Forest State Park

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The Meeman-Shelby Forest State Park is conveniently located just 13 miles north of Memphis, TN and features over 12 thousand acres of forestland bordering the Mississippi River.  This is a dense forested area with enormous trees – oaks, American beech, hickory, and sweet gum.  Families will enjoy the variety of camping options – from 2-bedroom cabins to standard campsites to a group camp site for large camping groups.

Meeman-Shelby Forest State Park is the ultimate destination for wildlife lovers!  Children who enjoy spotting wildlife will be especially pleased here as there are plentiful deer, turkey, otter, beavers, foxes and even bobcats roaming the forests.  In addition, there are over 200 species of songbirds, waterfowl, shorebirds and birds of prey.  If you are lucky, you may even spot the American Bald Eagle!

Finally, there is a Nature Center (open seasonally) that has exhibits of live snakes, turtles, salamanders, fish, and an indoor live butterfly garden along with a few other interesting hands-on exhibits.

Facilities Rental canoes, kayaks, & paddleboards
Disc golf course
Birding
Boating
20 miles hiking trails
5 mile out-and-back bike trail
Fishing (bass, bluegill, catfish)
8.5 miles of horse trails
6 picnic shelters/pavilions (30-100 people capacity)
Bathhouse
Dump station

RV/Tent/Trailer Sites

Campsites: 49
Site features: Table, grill, electrical & water hookups.

Cabins

Cabins: Six 2-bedroom
Site features Can sleep up to 6 people
1 bed + 1 full-size pull out couch
Fully equipped kitchen & all linens provided
Firewood is supplied during wintertime

Chickasaw State Park

Location:  20 Cabin Lane
Henderson, TN 38340

Phone:  731-989-5141

Website: Chickasaw State Park

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Chickasaw State Park is named for the Chickasaw Indians who once inhabited West Tennessee and North Mississippi.  This park is situated on some of the highest terrain in West Tennessee.  Families can enjoy miles of easy to moderate hiking trails, bicycle friendly roads, as well as rental rowboats & peddle boats.

If you have horse-lovers in your family, they’ll want to check out the park stables that rent horses for guided trail rides.  If you have your own horses, there are miles of horseback trails throughout the park to enjoy (please note that horses are not allowed on paved roads in the park).

Facilities Campground store
Bath house
Restroom facilities
Dump Station
Paddling
Birding
Interpretive Program
Swimming
Hiking
Biking on roads and trails
Fishing (bass, bream, catfish)
Horseback riding (BYOH)

RV Campground

Campsites: 53
Site features: Accommodates rigs up to 94 ft
Water & 20/30/50-amp electric hook-ups
26 sites have sewer hook-ups
Picnic table & grill

Tent Campground

Campsites: 29
Site features: Picnic table & grill
Water available
Modern bathhouse nearby with hot showers & restrooms

Wrangler Campground

Campsites: 32
Site features Designed for campers traveling with horses
Water & electric hook-ups
Bathhouse and restroom facilities

Cabins

Cabins: 13 cabins
Site features 7 cabins are one-bedroom – can accommodate up to 4 people
5 cabins are two-bedroom – can accommodate up to 6 people
Kitchens have full sized appliances & cooking/serving utensils.  Bed and bath linens provided.
TV with satellite and telephones
Picnic table, fire ring and grill on patio

Henry Horton State Park

Top 8 Family Campgrounds in Tennessee Henry Horton

Location: 4209 Nashville HWY
Chapel Hill, TN 37034

Phone:  931-364-2222

website: Henry Horton State Park

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Families looking for an outdoor recreation mecca will love Henry Horton State Park for their next camping trip.  The park features the Buford Ellington championship golf course which is heavily treed and containing 37 bunkers.  Duck River anglers will be able to catch bass (largemouth, smallmouth, and red-eye) as well as catfish and other species.  Skeet shooters can test their skill on the Henry Horton Trap and Skeet Range which includes five skeet fields and two trap fields.  There is also a lodge building with concessions along with gun & ammo rentals.  (note: must be 18+ years of age or youth sportsman with valid ID)

Facilities Campsite store
Drinking water
Bath houses
Playground
Ballfields
Archery Range
Picnic Areas
Golf Course
Disc Golf
Firewood for sale
Biking
Boating
Fishing

RV/Tent/Trailer Sites:

Campsites: 75
Site features: Limit of 6 people & 2 vehicles per site
Max 2 tents or 1 RV & 1 tent per site
Leashed Pets OK
Wifi available

Backcountry Campsites:

Campsites: 2
Site features: Located on the Adeline Wilhoite River Trail Loop
Hike in only
Primitive outhouse available
Fire pit & seating
Max 6 people per site
No potable water
Leave No Trace Camping

Hammock Camping:

Campsites: 6
Site features Primitive campsites located behind RV camping
Hike in only
Max 6 people/hammocks per site
Picnic table
Grill/fire ring
Wifi
Leave No Trace Camping

Standard Cabins

Cabins: 3
Standard Cabin features: Appliances, cooking utensils, linens, and towels.  Picnic table & charcoal grill outside.  Cribs available upon request.
Central Heat/Air
Full Kitchen
Gas fireplace
Phone
2 night minimum

Rustic Cabins

Cabins: 5
Rustic Cabin features: Appliances, cooking utensils, linens, towels
Full kitchen, wood-burning fireplace, window AC units, and phones.

Rock Island State Park

Location:  82 Beach Road
Rock Island, TN 38581

Phone:  931-837-4770

Website: Rock Island State Park

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Families with older children who enjoy hiking will find Rock Island State Park the perfect camping spot for a long weekend.  The park is home to Caney Fork Gorge which sits below Great Falls Dam.  Great Falls is a 30 foot horseshoe cascading waterfall and the Gorge contains scenic overlooks, waterfalls, deep pools and limestone paths.  Rock Island State Park is a wonderland for hiking, swimming, fishing, kayaking and exploring.  (Note: obey all park safety signage as rising water levels can be extremely dangerous)

Facilities/Activities: 883-acre park
Boating
Swimming
Hiking
4 picnic pavilions (30-100 people each)
2 bathhouses with hot showers & accessible restrooms
Dump station

Wifi

RVs & Trailers:

Campsites: 50
Site features: 20/30/50 amp electrical & water hookups
Charcoal grill
Fire ring
Lantern hanger
Picnic Table
4 sites have sewer hookups

Tent Campsites:

Campsites: 10
Site features: 20 amp electrical, water hookups
Lantern hanger
Fire ring
Charcoal grill
Picnic table
Most sites partially shaded and have grass surface.
Tent only campsites are closed from Nov2 – March 15 yearly.

Fall Creek Falls

Location:  2009 Village Camp Road
Spencer, TN 38585

Phone:  423-881-5298

Website: Fall Creek Falls

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Fall Creek Falls State Park is one of Tennessee’s most popular state parks due to its many natural and man-made attractions.  Throughout the park you’ll find cascades, gorges, waterfalls, and streams.  The beauty of nature in the park is breathtaking for campers and visitors of all ages.

Families will especially enjoy the hikes around the lake and to the base of Fall Creek Falls.  If your campers are up for it, there are even two long-distance overnight hiking trails.  The park offers naturalist-led environmental programs especially designed for young children.

For golfers in the family, Fall Creek Falls Golf Course is a challenging 18-hole golf course along with pro shop where you can find golfing supplies, lessons, rental clubs and carts.

For older children, the Canopy Challenge Course is the star attraction.  It features 75 wobbly bridges, rope swings, cargo nets, balance beams and zip lines – all with varying difficulty.  Participants move through the course attached to a safety line.

Facilities/Activities: Rock climbing
Canopy challenge course
Interpretive programs
Boating
Swimming
56 miles of hiking trails
24 miles of mountain bike trails
Bike rentals, boat rentals
Fishing (on Fall Creek Lake 345 acres)
Golf – 18 hole

Tents, RVs & Trailers:

Campsites: 222 in five different areas of the park
Site features: Picnic tables\
Grill
Water, Electricity
6 bathhouses
92 sites have sewer connections

Primitive Tent Campsites:

Campsites: 16
Site features: No water or electric

Backcountry Camping:

Campsites: 16
Site features: Located in four different areas along the overnight backpacking trails

Fisherman Cabins:

Fisherman: 20
Cabin features: Located directly on Fall Creek Lake.
Ten are 2-story, 2 bedroom, 1.5 baths
Ten are 1-story, 3 bedroom, 2 baths
Full kitchens, dining area, living room, pot bell woodstove

Landside Cabins:

Landside: 10
Cabin features: 2-bedrooms, gas fireplace, patio, picnic table, outdoor grill.

Cades Cove

Top 8 Family Campgrounds in Tennessee Cades Cove

Location: Cable Mill Road
Townsend, TN 37882

Phone: 877-444-6777

Website: Cades Cove

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Camping in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is one of the best ways to experience Tennessee’s abundant wildlife and breathtaking natural features.  Cades Cove Campground is designed for car-camping families and RVers alike.  There is a camp store for food and supplies as well as clean restrooms and drinking water (although NO showers).

Families will enjoy exploring the famous Cades Cove loop road – a scenic 11 mile drive through the Great Smoky Mountain National Park featuring mountain peaks, lush, rolling greens, and restored buildings like churches, log homes, cantilevered barns, and a working mill.  In addition, you may be able to spot wildlife along the road such as white tail deer, coyote, elk, fox and black bears!

Families can also explore the area on bicycles, horseback rides, hayrides, and carriage rides (available for rent thru the camp store seasonally).  Bring binoculars to spot wildlife as you explore (but be sure to keep your distance!)

NOTE:  Cades Cove Loop Road is closed until 1 March 2020 for maintenance

Campground is open: March 6, 2020 – December 31, 2020

Facilities/Activities: Hiking
Biking
Camp store
Bike rentals
Interpretive programs
Visitor Center
Horse Rentals
Dump station
Amphitheater

Tents, RVs & Trailers:

Campsites: 162
Site features: No hook-ups or showers
Emergency phone available

Smoky Bear Campground – Gatlinburg

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Location: 4857 East Parkway
Gatlinburg, TN 37738

Phone:  865-436-8372

Website: Smokey Bear Campground

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Smokey Bear Campground is a privately owned campground part of the Good Sam RV Park & Resort Network and is located in the Northeast section of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park.  Families will enjoy the heated pool and hot tub (seasonal), playground, and clean bathhouse.  Pets are welcome here too.  The campground consistently gets rave reviews for upkeep, cleanliness, and staff friendliness.

RV and tent sites aren’t too close together and most have nice tall trees keeping things shady.  Nearby attractions include Ramsey Cascades and Hen Wallow Water Falls.  There are also several highly-rated family restaurants within a few miles of camp if you don’t feel like campfire cooking!

Facilities/Activities: Bathhouse (wheelchair accessible)
Laundry
Clubhouse (seats up to 70) with full kitchen, Heat/Air
Camping store
Heated pool (seasonal)
Hot tub (seasonal)
Playground
Book and DVD lending library
Pet friendly

RVs & Trailers:

Campsites: 46
Site features: Full hookup with water, sewer, electric, cable & wifi
Pull through and back in sites available
Picnic table
Fire ring
Shady and tidy sites

Cabins:

Cabins: 6
Cabin features: Heat & A/C
Charcoal grill
Fire ring
Picnic table
Linens/Towels are NOT provided
No smoking
Cabins have initial soap, paper towels, TP, garbage bags
Pets upon approval and fee

Backbone Rock Campground & Recreation Area

Location: 10585-10711 TN 133
Shady Valley, TN 37688

Phone:  423-735-1500

Website: Backbone Rock Campground & Recreation Area

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If you are looking for a small, inexpensive campground, Backbone Rock Campground is just perfect.  It was established in 1960s and rehabbed in the 90s.  The campground is peaceful with only has 10 campsites but it has shower facilities and flushing toilets nearby.  The campsites are situated along Beaverdam Creek which can be heard flowing and gurgling from your tent.  There is swimming, fishing, and plenty of hiking nearby.  If you plan ahead, you can reserve all the campsites for your private group camping trip!

While you are here, visit the famous Backbone Rock which sports a tunnel that was drilled through the rock in 1901 to allow railroad access between Shady Valley and Damascus, VA.  You can drive through “The Shortest Tunnel in the World” on TN 133.

Note: The Open Season for 2020 is: 4/27/2020 – 10/12/2020

Facilities/Activities: Small campground (a larger group could reserve the whole campground)
No alcoholic beverages allowed
River and stream fishing (rainbow trout)
Picnic tables
Pavilion for reservation

Tent Sites:

Campsites: 10
Site features: Flush toilets for the campground
Picnic table
Fire ring
Lantern holder

Jennifer Hillberg is the Founder and Creator of Mountain Mat, LLC, the USA’s first 100% recycled polypropylene, reversible outdoor recreation mat.

Jennifer and her family have a passion for travel, hiking, exploring and spending time outdoors.  They’ve camped and hiked throughout the USA as well as Nepal, Greece, and the British Isles.

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