Best Free Camping in Tennessee

Free camping in Tennessee

The Volunteer State has an abundance of hiking, sightseeing, and plenty of opportunities to enjoy the great outdoors. Below are the top places for free camping in Tennessee.

See the free camping in Tennessee map.

Meriwether Lewis Campground

The Natchez Trace Parkway winds through parts of Tennessee, Alabama, and Mississippi. Outdoor enthusiasts looking for a unique camping experience can enjoy free primitive camping at the Meriwether Lewis Campground, located in Tennessee at Mile Post 385.9.

The Meriwether Lewis Campground offers 32 sites that are pull-through and back-in sites. There are restrooms and drinking water available, however, there are no additional amenities. These free camping sites can accommodate RVs or tents. Before traveling, contact the National Park Service to ensure the campground is open, as the campgrounds may close due to weather or other conditions.

Activities on the Natchez Trace Parkway

Travelers can enjoy other recreational activities like exploring hiking trails, bicycling, and horse-back riding on the Natchez Trace Parkway. The section that winds through Tennessee is known for its waterfalls and hiking trails. Cultural enthusiasts will enjoy the Parkway’s rich history and landmarks.

The National Park Service has designated five campgrounds available to cyclists only. These bicycle-only free park campgrounds are “first come, first serve” and are spaced out to allow for a typical days’ ride between sites (30-60 miles).

National Parks and Forests

While there is no free camping available within the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Cherokee National Forest (the only national forest in Tennessee) shares a boundary with the national park and offers up some amazing places for free wilderness camping.

The areas with designated sites for dispersed camping are Citico Creek Area and the French Broad Creek Area. These areas also provide recreational opportunities for hiking, bicycling, and creek-play.

Citico Creek Area is known for its ample fishing opportunities (trout, bass, and catfish). If staying at the French Broad Creek Area, you’ll need to look for signs directing you to the Paint Creek Corridor, as this is where the designated dispersed campsites are located. The Paint Creek Corridor is known for its scenic drive and picturesque picnic opportunities.

All of the dispersed camping sites within the Cherokee National Forest are primitive, without running water or electricity. Be sure to check out the Cherokee National Forest website for any restrictions or warnings before heading out.

Additional National Parks in Tennessee

While the state is beautiful during all seasons, autumn may be the ideal time to enjoy free camping in Tennessee because of the picturesque fall foliage. That being said, each season offers a unique opportunity to explore the natural beauty of the state. Whichever time of year you decide to take your adventure, enjoy your time in Tennessee!

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Recent Tennessee Free Campsite Reviews

Kimball, TN


Nov 27, 2023

"Cracker Barrel next to WM - SO LOUD!"

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We pulled in to the CB after dark. We decided to stay here instead of pushing on to Chattanooga. This location is right next to the interstate. It was so loud, we did not sleep much. Downshifting 18 wheelers all night! And a train that was active overnight. Would not stay here again. The CB employees were great though. Very appreciative...
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5 reviews
Chattanooga, TN

Bass Pro Shops

Nov 17, 2023

"Don’t Take First Entrance!!!!!!!!!"

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Beautiful Bass Shop. Manager loves Rvrs. Huge store. Note tiny parking lot. Starts to fill at 9am. Only use the north east entrance by Twin Peaks restaurant and Top Golf. Best place to set up is in North side of lot by Top Golf. If you take main entrance, you will hit a rock on a hairpin turn. Xmas the lot is really full.

Kodak, TN

Cracker Barrel

Nov 10, 2023


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Great stay! Stayed two nights. Class A and Towing Jeep. Unhooked Jeep, went to explore Knoxville and Women’s Basketball Hall Of Fame. Definitely recommend! Came back to Motor home and everything was fine. Had breakfast at Cracker Barrel but they are totally fine if you don’t eat there. There were about five or six RV spots but plenty of space if...
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1 review
Kodak, TN

Cracker Barrel

Oct 31, 2023

"No Issues"

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Stayed last night with other vehicles. Had no problems. Parked in back away from building.

1 review
Oct 30, 2023

"Got The Job Done!"

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Nice spot next to water, was able to find a slightly flat area next to a wood structure on the grounds for Class B van. The location did have trash receptacles, fire rings, a bbq grill, and porta potties, but someone had put what appeared to be caulk on the toilet rims. Stayed 10/29/2023 and three other campers and a little bit of road traffic...
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