7 Tennessee State Parks to Visit

Tennessee has 56 amazing state parks offering a range of activities from hiking and camping to boating, fishing and biking. Whether you enjoy camping, walking the trails or spending time on the water, Tennessee State Parks has something for everyone.

Here are 7 State Parks you should check out:

1Henry Horton

Settler's Well at Henry Horton State Park in Chapel Hill, Tennessee
Settler’s Well at Henry Horton State Park in Chapel Hill, Tennessee. Photo from TN Dept of Tourist Development

About: Henry Horton State Park gets its name from former governor of Tennessee Henry Horton. The park was constructed in the 1960s on Gov Horton’s estate.

The park is located on the shores of the Duck River, “one of the most diverse ecosystems in the world,” according to tnstateparks.com. Henry Horton visitors can see remnants of a mill and bridge operated and used by the family of Horton’s spouse for over a century.

Activities: 

  • Guided river floats – Check out a guided river float to enjoy the beauty and serenity of the scenic Duck River.
  • Biking – paved roads can be found throughout the park
  • Disc golf – 18 hole disc golf course inside the park that is free to the public
  • Golfing – The Buford Ellington championship golf course at Henry Horton State Park measures 5,625 yards from the Forward tees and 7,020 yards from the Championship tees
  • Hiking – over 10 miles of hiking
  • Fishing – The Duck River provides catches of Smallmouth Bass, Largemouth Bass, Redeye, and catfish.
  • Birding – Birding is exceptional for residents such as Carolina chickadee and tufted titmouse, pileated and red-bellied woodpeckers and migrating warblers

Lodging/Camping Options:

  • An inn, featuring The Governor’s Table Restaurant
  • 8 cabins
  • 56 RV campsites
  • 10 tent campsites
  • 9 primitive campsites
  • 3 backcountry campsites

Park Office: 4209 Nashville HWY, Chapel Hill, TN 37034
Phone Number: 931-364-2222

Learn more here.

2Standing Stone

Standing Stone State Park in Hilham, Tennessee.
Standing Stone State Park in Hilham, Tennessee. Photo from TN Dept of Tourist Development

About: Standing Stone State Park is located in Standing Stone State Forest on the Cumberland Plateau. The park takes its name from the Standing Stone, a 12-foot-tall rock standing upright on a sandstone ledge, which was supposedly used as a boundary line between two Indian nations. When the rock fell, the Indians placed a portion of it upon an improvised monument to preserve it. The stone is still preserved in nearby Monterey, Tenn.

Activities:

  • Hiking – more than eight miles of day-use hiking trails
  • Boating – Canoes, kayaks and aluminum fishing (row boats) may be rented year-round. Patrons may bring their own electric trolling motor and battery for the fishing boats. Pedal boats are rented seasonally. The only private boats allowed on Kelly Lake are canoes and kayaks
  • Fishing – Kelly Lake (69 acre) provides excellent fishing for bass, bluegill, catfish and trout.
  • Birding – Kelly Lake supports many red-eared sliders and painted turtles, great blue herons, and migrating waterfowl. Barred owls area regularly heard around the cabin area.

Lodging/Camping Options:

  • 17 historic cabins
  • 7 modern cabins
  • 36 tent and trailer sites

Park Office: 1674 Standing Stone Park Hwy, Hilham, TN 38568
Phone Number: 931-823-6347

Learn more here.

3Rock Island State Park

Twin Falls at Rock Island State Park.
Twin Falls at Rock Island State Park. Photo from TN Dept of Tourist Development

About: Rock Island State Park is an 883-acre park located on the headwaters of Center Hill Lake at the confluence of the Caney Fork, Collins and Rocky Rivers. The rugged beauty of the park includes the Caney Fork Gorge below Great Falls Dam. These overlooks are some of the most scenic and significant along the Eastern Highland Rim. Great Falls is a 30-foot horseshoe cascading waterfall, located below the 19th-century cotton textile mill that it powered over 100 years ago. Rock Island became a Tennessee State Park in 1969.

*Always use caution in the gorge. Water may rise rapidly. Monitor your surroundings. Leave the gorge immediately if water begins to rise or you hear warning sirens. Watch for slick rocks and swift currents. Do NOT jump into water of unknown depths. Swimming or wading is not allowed in all areas from TVA’s powerhouse downstream all the way down to the main beach boat ramp including by the “powerhouse”, “Twin Falls” and “Blue Hole” due to hidden and deadly currents.

Activities:

  • Boating – launch ramp on Center Hill Lake and other ramps closeby on the Caney Fork and Collilns Rivers offer access for great recreational boating. Rock Island is known for it’s whitewater kayaking and has hosted international freestyle kayaking events.)
    Swimming (The park’s natural sand beach is located on the headwaters of the beautiful Center Hill Lake.
  • Hiking – The park has nine hiking trails with the Caney Fork Gorge area located below the dam being a very popular area for rock hopping, swimming and fishing.
  • Picnicking – There are four picnicking areas within the park. All are equipped with tables, grills, and drinking water. All have restroom facilities.
  • Fishing – Boating and fishing are very popular on Center Hill Lake as well as on Great Falls Lake.
  • Birding – Birds such as Osprey, Belted Kingfisher, Black-crowned Night Herons can be seen along with great blue herons.

Lodging/Camping Options:

  • 10 cabins
  • 50 campsites to accomodate RVs & trailers
  • 10 tent only campsites

Park Office: 82 Beach Road, Rock Island, TN 38581
Phone Number: 931-837-4770

Learn more here.

4Reelfoot Lake State Park

Reelfoot Lake State Park in Tiptonville, Tennessee.
Reelfoot Lake State Park in Tiptonville, Tennessee. The Cumberland Mountains at Frozen Head State Park in Wartburg, Tennessee.

About: Reelfoot Lake State Park is home to Reelfoot Lake, a flooded forest, created by earthquakes in 1811-12. Now, it’s otherworldly with submerged stumps, standing trees and shallow areas. Boaters should navigate the waters slowly and cautiously. Canoes, kayaks and jon boats can be used to explore the waters. The park has five public boat launch ramps for fishing boats and small pontoon boats. There are a few local private businesses that rent out boats as well.

Activities:

  • Tours – Reelfoot Lake offers a variety of tours throughout the year, including Eagle Tours, Deep Swamp Canoe Tours, Scenic Pontoon Boat Tours and more.
  • Boating – One of the best ways to experience Reelfoot Lake is by boat. Reelfoot Lake is ideal for canoes, kayaks and jon boats when the winds are calm.
  • Hiking – Reelfoot Lake has several easy hiking trails that are fun for the whole family!
  • Fishing – Tennessee’s only natural lake is nationally known for crappie and bluegill fishing.
  • Birding – While Reelfoot Lake is known for its eagles and Eagle Festival, White Pelicans also make the park home during their annual fall migration.

Lodging/Camping Options:

  • 7 cabins
  • South Campground has 86 RV & tent campsites
  • Airpark North Campground has 14 RV sites and 10 primitive tent only campsites

Park Office: 2595 Hwy 21 E, Tiptonville, TN 38079
Phone Number: 731-253-9652

Learn more here.

5Frozen Head State Park

The Cumberland Mountains at Frozen Head State Park in Wartburg, Tennessee.
The Cumberland Mountains at Frozen Head State Park in Wartburg, Tennessee. Photo from TN Dept of Tourist Development

About: Frozen Head State Park and Natural Area encompasses more than 24,000 acres of wilderness area and is named for a 3,324-foot peak in the Cumberland Mountains, the top of which is often shrouded in ice or snow in the winter months. The impressive entrance leads visitors into a vestige of densely forested, unspoiled mountain splendor — once common throughout the Cumberland Plateau.

Activities:

  • Visit Historic Landmark – The Stonecipher-Kelly house is an important historic landmark of Morgan County. The house was one of the very first European homesteads in the area, and today it is the oldest standing home in Morgan County.
  • Birding – The Audubon Society recognizes Frozen Head as part of the South Cumberland Mountains Important Bird Area.
  • Hiking – The park features over 50 miles of foot trails that meander by waterfalls, rock shelters and giant mountaintop cap rocks.
  • Fishing – Flat Fork Creek flows through the park and is stocked with Rainbow Trout each spring.

Lodging/Camping Options: 

  • 20 rustic campsites
  • 8 primitive campsite
  • 10 backcountry campsites

Park Office: 964 Flat Fork Road, Wartburg, TN 37887
Phone Number: 423-346-3318

Learn more here.

6Tims Ford State Park 

Tims Ford State Park
Tims Ford State Park in Winchester, Tennessee. Photo from TN Dept of Tourist Development

 

About: Located on the Tims Ford Reservoir, the 1,321-acre Tims Ford State park sits in the shadows of the Cumberland Plateau in south-central Tennessee. The Tims Ford Lake is considered one of the most picturesque lakes in Tennessee and is regarded as one of the top bass fishing and recreational lakes in the Southeast.

Activities:

  • Boating – Tims Ford State Park manages eight public boat ramps around the lake and leases two marinas, providing ample access to Tims Ford Lake.
  • Swimming – The pool at Tims FordState Park will remain closed for maintenance during the 2020 summer season. We apologize for this inconvenience and look forward to the next opportunity we have to reopen the pool for your enjoyment. However, the park remains open and is still a great place for you to enjoy water-based recreation this summer.
  • Hiking – There are 6.5 miles of unpaved hiking trails in addition to the 22 miles of bike trails that are also used for hiking.
  • Golfing – Just an hour-and-a-half south of Nashville lies another star of the Jack Nicklaus-designed collection: The Bear Trace at Tims Ford.
  • Biking – There are seven miles of paved biking/hiking trails that connect all the major areas of the park.
  • Fishing – Tims Ford Lake is a long winding reservoir (10,000 acre) providing boating, skiing, fishing and other water recreation activities.
  • Birding – Essentially an upland park, open field birds such as indigo bunting, song and field sparrow share created meadow areas on either side of the park road past the visitor center.

Lodging/Camping Options:

  • 20 cabins
  • Main Campsite offers 52 RV & tent campsites
  • Paddle-in Island Sites offer 7 primitive campsites
  • Fairview Campground offers 82 campsites
  • Turkey Creek has 20 tent only primitive sites
  • Evans Loop Backcountry Campsite has space for 2 tents/6 people

Park Office: 570 Tims Ford Drive, Winchester, TN 37398
Phone Number: 931-968-3536

Learn more here.

7Montgomery Bell 

Montgomery Bell State Park
Photo: Tennessee State Parks Facebook

 

About: Once a park of the iron industry here in Tennessee, the park was home to those seeking a better life through mining iron. The park includes the replica sites of the first Cumberland Presbyterian Church founded by Reverend Samuel McAdow and his log cabin. Like other state parks, it also has tons of trails and activities for the family to take part in and year-round presentations.

Activities:

  • Birding – The primary habitat is open forest with small field openings and roadway edges. The lakes attract small numbers of waterfowl such as mallard and wood duck, and bald eagle primarily in winter. Twenty miles of trails wind through woods or adjacent to roadways or fields, allowing observation of such residents as Carolina chickadee, tufted titmouse, white-breasted nuthatch, barred owl, and many more.
  • Paddling – Kayaks and pedal boats are rented for use on Lake Acorn through PaddleEZ.com. Private boats are allowed on Lake Acorn.
  • Biking – The park has approximately 23.5 miles of dirt mountain bike trail.
  • Boating – Boating is allowed on all three lakes at Montgomery Bell State Park. Outboard motors are not allowed on boats at any time on any of the lakes. The Lake Woodhaven boat ramp is at the boat access entrance.
  • Swimming – The swim beach on Lake Acorn is free and available to the public, Memorial Day Weekend through Labor Day Weekend.
  • Golfing – The course was built in 1973 and then redesigned by designer Gary Roger Baird in 1988. The entire course is heavily wooded and features an abundance of wildlife such as deer, geese and wild turkey.
  • Hiking – Montgomery Bell has several hiking trails ranging from easy to moderate, including a 10 mile overnight trail.
  • Fishing – Lake Woodhaven (50-acre) provides fishing for bass, bream and catfish.

Lodging/Camping Options:

  • 8 cabins
  • 47 RV sites
  • 22 tent only sites
  • Back country camping is allowed on the overnight trail with a back country camping permit. Tent camping is not allowed on the overnight trail.

Park Office: 1020 Jackson Hill Road, Burns, TN 37029
Phone Number: 615-797-9052

Learn more here.

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