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

Oct 05, 2022

"wonderful site"

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i stayed for just over a week, and i’d stay here again in a heartbeat. Very accessible for my van, though not many sites will accommodate much more than that. full service here as well. There’s a pit toilet that was very clean, and it gets very quiet at night. Plenty of fire kindling. as a solo female traveler, i also felt very safe here.

4 reviews
Sevierville, TN

Cracker Barrel

Oct 05, 2022

"Great Nights Sleep!"

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There were several rvs, vans, and cars. I had an awesome quiet nights sleep. I wasn’t sure about this one at first, because there were no reviews, but there are no signs anywhere, and there is Rv parking. I would stay again. Lots of stores and a Starbucks right by.

2 reviews
Knoxville, TN

Cracker Barrel

Oct 01, 2022

"Big Rig Friendly "

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We are in a 36 ft class A motor home and pull our vehicle behind it on a tow dolley. We needed a place to stop overnight. This location was great because it has several spots for big rigs/RVs/trailers etc. and there were several other RVs and trailers when we pulled in at around midnight. It’s far enough from the highway that it has minimal...
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2 reviews
Sep 25, 2022

"Great Place For Peace And Quiet"

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This location is so quiet. Typical campgrounds have lots of kids running around making tons of noise, dogs barking all night…not this place. It was perfect for two night of boondocking. We have hiked here and the trails are beautiful. And it’s free!

1 review
Clarksville, TN

Cracker Barrel

Sep 24, 2022

"Friendly Staff; Safe Stay"

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We arrived around 9pm. We went inside to check in with the manager and they welcome RVers. We also got a chocolate cake and ice cream dessert and it was tasty. The site isn’t too level (needed a couple leveling blocks). We can hear the highway noise but that didn’t bother us. In addition to us, there were two other RVs there.

7 reviews