Sometimes you just need to get away from apartment city living and get a little rugged. The noise, rush hour (yay for I-24 back-ups!), and frequent cheers from the Pedal Tavern can get a little taxing after a while.
When you’ve reached your edge and city life’s got you down, check out these gorgeous parks for a slice of much-needed nature and sleeping under the stars. New camper? Even if camping isn’t your thing but you need a getaway, some of these parks offer cabins or spots to park trailers for an excellent glamping experience.
Plus, each of these campsites are less than three hours from Nashville, and some are just a step out the door!
Easily one of the best parks in Tennessee, South Cumberland State Park is home to some stellar backcountry hiking and camping. An hour and a half from Nashville, this park is ideal for the active camper — from hiking between the many waterfalls or trying your hand at rock climbing, you’ll be wiped by the time your head meets the pillow.
Just under two hours, this park covers about 900 acres of the Caney Fort River Gorge, where three rivers come together at the head of Center Hill Lake. If you choose your spot wisely, you may be able to see waterfalls or have a great overlook of the gorge from your tent. The park offers 60 campsites, plus swimming holes, hiking, fishing, and whitewater kayaking.
Henry Horton State Park is about an hour from Nashville and offers access to Duck River. And if you’re wild or not, know this spot is for everyone—there is an inn, cabins, and primitive and backcountry campsites. In addition to camping, you can enjoy an 18-hole golf course and a trap and skeet range.
This park, just an hour from Nashville, is famous for its stone “fort” dating back 1,500 to 2,000 years. The main trail traces the stone building, which is thought to be a ceremonial gathering spot for ancient Native American tribes. After your history lesson, settle in for the night. The campsites each have water and electrical hookups, grills, picnic tables, and paved platforms, but they’re still somewhat rustic. Each site is tucked back in the woods with lots of privacy.
Love the outdoors, but don’t like sleeping on roots? Drive an hour from Nashville to the beautiful Center Hill Lake, surrounded by tall bluffs and cliffs. The campgrounds offer 60 tent and trailer sites with electrical and water access. And each spot is built on a wooden platform — like your own private porch! Though, they do have primitive set-ups and even Wrangler Sites where you can camp with your horse.
Just under an hour away from Nashville, Bledsoe Creek State Park is situated on a peninsula on Old Hickory Lake with more than 50 campsites. Spend the day hiking the six miles of trails throughout the peninsula. Got a boat? Bring it! The park has two boat launching ramps.
Frozen Head is home to 20 campsites, 50 miles of backpacking, and hiking trails over 24,000 acres of wilderness. Sure, the drive to Frozen Head State Park is just under three hours, but you’ll be rewarded with waterfalls, epic views, fishing, and tons of hiking options. Make it into a weekend getaway; you won’t regret it.
Fall Creek Falls is one of the highest waterfalls in the eastern United States and it’s only two hours from the city. Naturally, this park has become a favorite among Nashville natives, especially lose looking to stay overnight. The park offers 222 campsites, 16 primitive sites, and three backcountry sites. Once you rise, there are more than 35 miles of hiking trails and 24 miles of mountain biking trails.
Pile your friends in the van for this one; this state park is 30 miles from Nashville, about a 45-minute drive. Montgomery Bell State Park is home to cabins built in the 1930s. And as long as your squad doesn’t revel too hard once you arrive, it’s a spectacular place for hiking, biking, golfing, and fishing too.
Drive about an hour and a half from Nashville and you can actually camp underground. Though, FYI: you’ll need a group of 10 or more, and you must book in advance. Upon arrival, you’ll go on a walking tour of the cave, and if you’re up for it, you can check out the strenuous “Rocky Topper” spelunking excursion. And for being underground, you’ll sleep with some comfort — count on zero rain and functional underground bathrooms. Maybe the best part, in the morning, you’ll enjoy a catered breakfast in the Volcano Room.
If you’re looking for something right in the city, head to Percy Priest Lake. The lake is spotted with more than 30 islands for camping. The islands have hiking trails and 40-foot cliffs to jump off of (with caution, of course). Fitt Tip: if you want a beach-like experience, try Luau Island — a small, sandy island with space for just five tents.