Tennessee is home to a fantastic state park system that promotes diverse resource-based recreation while conserving the natural environment and preserving authentic Tennessee places and spaces for communities to enjoy. Established to preserve and protect the state’s scenic areas and through a well-planned and professionally managed system of state parks, the state park system is home to some fantastic parks, reserves, and sanctuaries that feature lakes, waterfalls, unique fauna and flora, and plenty of outdoor activities to enjoy.
1.Andrew Johnson National Historic Site
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The Andrew Johnson National Historic Site is a National Historic Site in Greeneville that honors Andrew Johnson, the 17th President of the United States. One of the many historical national park sites honoring President Johnson, the park spans 16 acres and features three sections, namely the Andrew Johnson Homestead showcasing his two homes, the Andrew Johnson Visitor Complex, and the Andrew Johnson National Cemetery, where he is buried. The Andrew Johnson Visitor Complex has a modern visitor's center and museum, and the President’s tailor shop and visitors can watch a show movie about his time in Greeneville. Johnson became president after Lincoln was assassinated and ran the country from 1865 to 1869, during which time he attempted to reunify a nation torn by civil war.
101 N College St, Greeneville, TN 37743, Phone: 423-638-3551
2.Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area
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The Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area was established to protect the Big South Fork of the Cumberland River and its tributaries, as well as the former mining community of Blue Heron. The recreation area is spread across four counties in northeastern Tennessee and McCreary County in southeastern Kentucky and is home to the highest concentrations of natural bridges in the eastern United States. The free-flowing Big South Fork of the Cumberland River pass through 90 miles of scenic gorges and valleys that feature a wide range of natural and historic features and offers an array of recreational opportunities including camping, horseback riding, fishing, hiking, mountain biking, canoeing, and whitewater rafting.
4564 Leatherwood Rd, Oneida, TN 37841, Phone: 423-569-9778
3.Bledsoe Creek State Park
Bledsoe Creek State Park is a state park in Sumner County that boasts beautiful landscapes and offers a wealth of recreational activities. Spanning 169 acres which are managed by the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation., the park was once a prime hunting ground for several different Native American tribes and is home to a wealth of Native American history and many historical sites. Old Hickory Lake lies within the park and offers a range of water-based activities such as pleasure boating, fishing, canoeing, and swimming. There are also over six miles of scenic year-round hiking trails, 57 campsites and several park programs which provide entertainment for all ages.
400 Zieglers Fort Rd, Gallatin, TN 37066, Phone: 615-452-3706
4.Cedars of Lebanon State Park
Cedars of Lebanon State Park is located 10 miles south of Lebanon in Wilson County and spans over 1,000 acres within the 9,420-acre Cedars of Lebanon State Forest. Named for the eastern red cedar trees prevalent in the area, the 1,139-acre park offers excellent hiking with eight miles of trails that meander through the cedar forests and meadows. The park also has 117 campsites equipped with electric and water hookups, picnic tables and grills, as well as an additional 30 tent and pop-up campsites and a modern group lodge that can sleep up to 80 people for organized groups. The park features unique natural rock gardens called limestone glades which have created their endemic plant communities and 19 rare and endangered species of plants grow profusely here and nowhere else in the world. There is also an abundance of wildlife including fox, deer, squirrel, rabbits, and turkey throughout the park.
328 Cedar Forest Rd, Lebanon, TN 37090, Phone: 615-443-2769
5.Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park
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Spread across eastern Tennessee and northern Georgia, Chickamauga, and Chattanooga National Military Park preserve the historical sites of two major American Civil War battles, namely the Chattanooga Campaign and the Battle of Chickamauga. The military park features four main areas, and a few small isolated reservations, around Chattanooga, including Lookout Mountain Battlefield and Point Park, Missionary Ridge, Chickamauga Battlefield, and Moccasin Bend. Moccasin Bend boasts significant archaeological remnants of American Indian settlement and is a designated National Historic Landmark, while the entire park is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
3370 Lafayette Rd, Fort Oglethorpe, GA 30742, Phone: 706-866-9241
6.Chickasaw State Park
Surrounded by over 14,000 acres of state forest, Chickasaw State Park is a 1,280-acre state park located in Chester County that includes Lake Placid. Named for the Chickasaw Indians who once called West Tennessee and North Mississippi home, Chickasaw State Park is situated on some of the highest ground in west Tennessee and offers a variety of activities for visitors to enjoy, including over four miles of easy to moderate hiking trails, mountain biking trails and bicycle-friendly roads, and boating on Lake Placid. The park has several historical lodging options for overnight stays, as well as an RV campground equipped with water and electrical hookups, a 29-site tent campground, and a wrangler campground for visitors traveling with horses. All the campsites have amenities such as modern bathhouses with hot showers and restroom facilities, picnic tables and grills, and a playground for children.
4128, 20 Cabin Ln, Henderson, TN 38340, Phone: 731-989-5141
7.Cumberland Gap National Historical Park
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The Cumberland Gap National Historical Park was established to preserve the Cumberland Gap, a famous pass through the Cumberland Mountains where the borders of Tennessee, Kentucky, and Virginia meet. Eroded by wind and water, the Cumberland Gap forms a significant break in the formidable Appalachian Mountain chain, and its breathtaking beauty has been immortalized by artists, poets, novelists, historians, and songwriters throughout the ages. The Gap was first used by large game animals in their migratory journeys, followed by Native Americans, and finally by the settlers of the nation when it saw more than 300,000 people cross between 1775 and 1810.
91 Bartlett Park Road, Middlesboro, KY 40965, Phone: 606-248-2817
8.Cumberland Mountain State Park
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Cumberland Mountain State Park is a 1,720-acre state park in Cumberland County that is situated around the man-made Byrd Lake, which was created by the impoundment of Byrd Creek in the 1930s. Located on the Cumberland Plateau, Cumberland Mountain State Park was first established in 1938 to provide a recreational area for over 250 families that were given land to homestead on the Cumberland Plateau. Today, the park still offers a wealth of recreational activities, including hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, boating, swimming, picnicking and interpretive nature programs. Cumberland Mountain State Park has several overnight accommodation options, ranging from camping to fully-furnished cabins, and features a favorite area restaurant and separate recreation hall that can accommodate up to 250 people.
1125, 24 Office Dr, Crossville, TN 38555, Phone: 931-484-6138
9.Cummins Falls State Park
Cummins Falls State Park is peaceful, rugged 282-acre day-use park located northwest of Cookeville in Jackson County that is home to Cummins Falls, Tennessee’s eighth largest waterfall which is set on the Blackburn Fork State Scenic River on the Eastern Highland Rim and is 75-foot high. Located in the Cordell Hull Watershed, the park offers a variety of outdoor recreational activities such as swimming, picnicking, and hiking on trail routes to the gorge and base of the waterfall. The river provides good wade and bank fishing for bass and Bluegill, and the park has a primitive picnic area located across the road from the parking lot.
390 Cummins Falls Lane, Cookeville, TN 38501, Phone: 931-520-6691
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10.David Crockett State Park
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David Crockett State Park is a state park in Lawrenceburg that commemorates the historical activities of famous frontiersman David Crockett that occurred in the area. Located on Shoal Creek, which was initially called the Sycamore River, the 1,319-acre park has a seasonal museum with exhibits depicting Crockett’s life here and a replica of a water-powered grist mill that once worked on the creek. The park has over eight miles of hiking and biking trails which offer scenic vistas of Shoal Creek and Crockett Falls, and the surrounding forests, and limestone bluffs. Swimming, boating, kayaking, canoeing, paddle-boarding, and fishing on the 40-acre Lake Lindsey are popular in the summer months, and an Olympic-sized swimming pool with a modern bathhouse is available. The park has an onsite restaurant overlooking the lake.
1400 W Gaines St, Lawrenceburg, TN 38464, Phone: 931-762-9408
11.Edgar Evins State Park
Located on the shores of Center Hill, the Edgar Evins State Park in DeKalb County that consists of 6,000 acres along the impoundment of the Caney Fork. Nestled along the hilly Eastern Highland Rim, the park features a sizeable on-site marina with restaurant and gift shop, and overnight cabins and campsites overlooking one of the most beautiful reservoirs in Tennessee, which also offers activities such as hiking, horseback riding, picnicking, and camping. The Edgar Evins State Park is home to an abundance of wildlife, including wintering bald eagles, numerous hawks, three different owl species, and the rare Cerulean Warbler. A modern visitor’s center features an observation tower which offers spectacular views of Center Hill Lake and the surrounding hillsides.
1630 Edgar Evins State Park Rd, Silver Point, TN 38582, Phone: 931-646-3080
12.Fall Creek Falls State Park
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Spread across Van Buren and Bledsoe counties, Fall Creek Falls State Resort Park is state park centered on the upper Cane Creek Gorge, which is an area known for its uniquely striking geological formations and scenic waterfalls. One of Tennessee’s largest state parks, Fall Creek Falls State Park spans 26,000 acres across the eastern top of the rugged Cumberland Plateau and is dotted with streams, cascades, waterfalls, gorges and dense forests of virgin hardwood timber. The 256-foot tall is one of the highest waterfalls and a main feature in the park, along with other waterfalls such as Cane Creek Falls, Piney Falls, and Cane Creek Cascades. Activities in the park include camping, backcountry camping, hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, golf at the challenging 18-hole golf Fall Creek Falls Golf Course, aerial adventures at the Canopy Challenge Course, and naturalist-led programs at the Nature Center at Fall Creek Falls. The park also has five covered picnic pavilions, four playgrounds, and an Olympic-sized pool with a wading area that is open seasonally.
2009 Village Camp Rd, Spencer, TN 38585, Phone: 423-881-5298
13.Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Straddling the border between North Carolina and Tennessee, Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a sprawling national park and UNESCO World Heritage Site that features exquisite landscapes, rivers, waterfalls, lush forests and rolling hills of blooming wildflowers. The 522,419-acre park is the most visited park in the country and sees more than 11.3 million recreational visitors every year, who come to hike a segment of the Appalachian Trail, which runs through the park, soak up the breathtaking landscapes, and learn more about the history of the region. An observation tower rests atop the highest dome of Clingmans Dome and offers spectacular panoramic views of the mist-covered mountain. More Gatlinburg activities
107 Park Headquarters Road, Gatlinburg, TN 37738, Phone: 865-436-1200
14.Harrison Bay State Park
Spread along 40 miles of Chickamauga Lake shoreline, Harrison Bay State Park is a 1,200-acre state demonstration park that was initially developed as a Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) recreation area in the 1930s. Named for the large bay near the old town of Harrison, the park is historically significant due to the region being the last campground of the Cherokee which consisted of three villages that were ruled by one of the last great Cherokee Chieftains. The densely wooded park offers a variety of outdoor activities, including camping, golfing, and picnicking, as well as water recreation like boating, fishing, canoeing, swimming, and kayaking. Harrison Bay State Park has 128 RV campsites with water and electrical hookups and 21 primitive tent-only campsites. There is also a 4.5-mile loop bike trail that is rated for all abilities.
8411 Harrison Bay Rd, Harrison, TN 37341, Phone: 423-344-6214
15.Lamar Alexander Rocky Fork State Park
Rocky Fork State Park is a 2,037-acre state park situated in the Blue Ridge region of the Appalachian Mountains in Unicoi County in East Tennessee. Resting next to the Cherokee National Forest close to the Tennessee-North Carolina state line, the park is surrounded by the Cherokee National Forest and offers a wealth of outdoor and recreational activities. Drained by cold mountain streams flowing down the mountain, including Rocky Fork Creek, which flows through the park, the scenic wilderness features deep pools, eddies, and streams that offer excellent trout fishing. A corridor of the Appalachian National Scenic Trail provides world-class hiking and mountain biking trails, and the park is home to a diverse range of fauna and flora.
501 Rocky Fork Rd, Flag Pond, TN 37657, Phone: 423-271-1233
16.Manhattan Project National Historical Park
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The Manhattan Project National Historical Park is a United States National Historical Park that celebrates the secret World War II Manhattan Project program which led to the creation of the atomic bomb. Jointly managed by the National Park Service and Department of Energy, the Manhattan Project National Historical Park features three separate sites, namely in Tennessee, New Mexico, and Washington, each of which preserves this significant time in history. Located on the Columbia River, the project produced large quantities of plutonium for atomic bombs, which were designed and built in Los Alamos. Tennessee’s Oak Ridge Reservation was the headquarters for the Manhattan Project and a center for plutonium production and uranium enrichment. Today, tours are offered between April and September but require registration and reservations.
Historical Museum, 1050 Bathtub Row, Los Alamos, NM 87544, Phone: 505-661-6277
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17.Montgomery Bell State Park
Located seven miles east of Dickson in Dickson County, Montgomery Bell State Park is a 3,782-acre state park in Burns that was once the center of iron industry in Middle Tennessee. Resting at an elevation of 758 feet, the park is named for the Montgomery Bell, which formed one of the largest iron industries in the state. Features within the park include replicas of the first Cumberland Presbyterian Church and log cabin home of Reverend Samuel McAdow dating back to 1810, a campground for RVs with electrical sites and tents, and a charming inn with a restaurant and a conference center that can host up to 500 people. Activities in the park include hiking, biking, fishing, kayaking, boating, and golf on a par 72, 18-hole golf course.
1020 Jackson Hill Rd, Burns, TN 37029, Phone: 615-797-9052
18.Natchez Trace State Park
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Natchez Trace State Park is a state park in western Tennessee that offers a wide range of activities and recreation. Named for the famous Natchez Trace woodland path, a vital series of wilderness trails during the late 18th and early 19th centuries that originated with American Indian trade and travel routes, the park features several day hiking trails and a 40-mile overnight trail. The park is home to four parks that provide a wealth of water-based fun such as boating, fishing, swimming, canoeing, kayaking, and pleasure boating. Other facilities include camping, overnight cabins and lodges, a restaurant, and a museum that features local and park history.
24845 Natchez Trace Rd, Wildersville, TN 38388, Phone: 731-968-3742
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19.Norris Dam State Park
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Resting along the shores of Norris Lake in Anderson Campbell Counties, the Norris Dam State Park is a state park that is home to beautiful landscapes and provides a wide range of outdoor and recreational activities. Boasting 4,000 acres and over 800 miles of shoreline on the shores of the Norris Reservoir, an impoundment of the Clinch River created in 1936, the park features two campgrounds with water and electric hook-ups, overnight historic and modern cabins, and a fully equipped marina with boat ramp available, and house and pontoon boats to rent. Activities in the park include recreational boating, water-skiing, swimming, and fishing, along with hiking, horseback riding, and mountain biking, and attractions include the Lenoir Museum, the 1798 Rice Gristmill, and the Caleb Crosby Threshing Barn that dates back to the 1830s.
125 Village Green Cir, Rocky Top, TN 37769, Phone: 865-425-4500
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20.Paris Landing State Park
Founded in 1945, Paris Landing State Park is an 841-acre state park on the western bank of Kentucky Lake in Buchanan that offers a wealth of land and water-based activities. Named after an old steamboat landing on the Tennessee River, which was a prominent spot for the delivery of goods to serve the settlements of the region, Paris Landing State Park offers an array of activities such as camping, picnicking, boating, fishing, swimming, kayaking, and waterskiing. The park also offers a scenic, challenging Par 72, 18-hole golf course and has a pro shop that sells golfing supplies, lessons, rental clubs, and carts. The park also has a seasonal Olympic-size public swimming pool with a children’s pool, a white-sand beach volleyball court, two diving boards, and a snack bar.
16055 US-79, Buchanan, TN 38222, Phone: 731-641-4465
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21.Pickwick Landing State Park
Pickwick Landing State Park is a 1,416-acre state park situated around the Pickwick Lake in Pickwick Dam, Hardin County that is noted for its excellent water recreation on the lake and river. Named for Pickwick Landing, a 19th-century riverboat stop, the park has a marina and offers boating, fishing, swimming on three public swimming beaches and canoeing. Other facilities in the park include an inn with a restaurant, meeting rooms and exercise rooms, overnight cabins and camping, disc golf, tennis, picnic spots, nature walks on several hiking trails, and bird-watching. The famous Shiloh National Military Park is a short drive away from the Pickwick Landing State Park and is one of the best preserved Civil War military history sites in the country.
116 State Park Lane, Counce, TN 38326, Phone: 731-689-3129
22.Radnor Lake State Park
Radnor Lake State Natural Area, also known as Radnor Lake State Park, is a 1,332-acre state park and natural recreation area in Oak Hill that features five miles of unpaved hiking and mountain biking trails through the woods surrounding the lake. Protected as a Class II Natural Area, the park is home to an abundance of birds and wildlife, ranging from herons, owls, and waterfowl to mink, otters, and other mammals. Activities in the park include hiking, mountain biking, wildlife observation, photography, and several environmental education programs, ranging from astronomy night hikes and wildflower walks to canoe floats and nature hikes.
1160 Otter Creek Rd, Nashville, TN 37220, Phone: 615-373-3467
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23.Reelfoot Lake State Park
Nestled in the northwest corner of Tennessee, Reelfoot Lake State Park is a state park situated in Lake and Obion counties that encompasses Reelfoot Lake and offers a wealth of outdoor activities. The 15,000-acre Reelfoot Lake is a flooded forest that was formed by a series of violent earthquakes in the early 1800s and is noted for providing excellent fishing, boating and wildlife viewing. Majestic Cypress trees rise above the water, while their stumps below the water attract a variety of aquatic fauna and flora, which in turn, draws a range of shore and wading birds, and American bald eagles. The park has several hiking trails that are popular for bird watching and wildlife viewing, and two campgrounds with water, electricity, picnic tables and grills. Other facilities in the park include 3,700 square foot auditorium that can seat up to 400 people, and the R.C. Donaldson Memorial Museum and Nature Center, which is open year-round.
2595 Highway 21 East, Tiptonville, TN 38079, Phone: 731-253-9652
24.Rock Island State Park
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Rock Island State Park is an 883-acre park in Warren and White Counties located at the confluence of the Caney Fork, Collins and Rocky Rivers on Center Hill Lake. Renowned for its rugged beauty and spectacular natural scenery along the Eastern Highland Rim, the park features several attractions such as the 30-foot Great Falls, a cascading horseshoe waterfall located below the 19th-century cotton textile mill, and the magnificent Caney Fork Gorge. The gorge boasts dense forests, deep tranquil pools, cascading waterfalls, limestone paths, and scenic overlooks, and is perfect for hiking, fishing, kayaking, and swimming. Center Hill Lake also offers safe swimming off a natural sand beach and pleasure boating, and overnight cabins are available in the park.
82 Beach Rd, Rock Island, TN 38581, Phone: 931-686-2471
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25.South Cumberland State Park
One of Tennessee's newer state parks, South Cumberland State Park comprises nine areas in four counties on the Cumberland Plateau in middle and southeast Tennessee. Spanning 30,845 acres in nine separate regions across the counties of Grundy, Franklin, Marion, and Sequatchie, the park boasts some of the best hiking and backcountry camping in the area. The 12.5 miles long one-way Fiery Gizzard Trail connects the Grundy Forest, and Foster Falls and hikers can soak up spectacular natural scenery, rocky gorges, cascading streams, and unusual rock formations, and swim in Fiery Gizzard Creek. Other famous attractions in the park include the Savage Gulf and Stone Door areas, the historical Stage Coach Road, Sewanee Natural Bridge, Buggytop Cave, and the Carter Natural Area, which is part of a unique 18,000-acre enclosed-valley sinkhole called the Lost Cove. A modern visitor’s center provides information on the park, has interpretative exhibits and lovely picnic areas.
7608, 11745 US-41, Monteagle, TN 37356, Phone: 931-924-2980
25 Best Tennessee National & State Parks
- Andrew Johnson National Historic Site, Photo: Zack Frank/stock.adobe.com
- Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area, Photo: R. P. Jennings/stock.adobe.com
- Bledsoe Creek State Park, Photo: Yuli/stock.adobe.com
- Cedars of Lebanon State Park, Photo: beachfront/stock.adobe.com
- Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park, Photo: Robert Hainer/stock.adobe.com
- Chickasaw State Park, Photo: Venera/stock.adobe.com
- Cumberland Gap National Historical Park, Photo: Zack Frank/stock.adobe.com
- Cumberland Mountain State Park, Photo: Jim Vallee/stock.adobe.com
- Cummins Falls State Park, Photo: Tobias/stock.adobe.com
- David Crockett State Park, Photo: 1981 Rustic Studio/stock.adobe.com
- Edgar Evins State Park, Photo: Travis/stock.adobe.com
- Fall Creek Falls State Park, Photo: Jim Vallee/stock.adobe.com
- Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Photo: pabrady63/stock.adobe.com
- Harrison Bay State Park, Photo: tonktiti/stock.adobe.com
- Lamar Alexander Rocky Fork State Park, Photo: finwal89/stock.adobe.com
- Manhattan Project National Historical Park, Photo: NPS Photo
- Montgomery Bell State Park, Photo: kazoka303030/stock.adobe.com
- Natchez Trace State Park, Photo: Melinda Fawver/stock.adobe.com
- Norris Dam State Park, Photo: Melinda Fawver/stock.adobe.com
- Paris Landing State Park, Photo: jdross75/stock.adobe.com
- Pickwick Landing State Park, Photo: kichigin19/stock.adobe.com
- Radnor Lake State Park, Photo: olenatur/stock.adobe.com
- Reelfoot Lake State Park, Photo: aheflin/stock.adobe.com
- Rock Island State Park, Photo: Michael Shake/stock.adobe.com
- South Cumberland State Park, Photo: Samuel/stock.adobe.com
- Cover Photo: digidreamgrafix/stock.adobe.com