Top Ten Campsites near Nashville and Memphis

Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area
To reach Big South Fork NRRA, take I-40 east from Nashville to exit 317. From 317, take US 27 north for 34 miles, just past Jamestown, to TN 154. Take TN 154 12 miles to TN 297. Turn right on TN 297 and follow it to Bandy Creek campground and the BSF Visitor Center. Campsites are $15 per night. For more information, call (931) 879-4869, or visit

The "Big" in Big South Fork refers to the size of this branch of the Cumberland River. However, it could stand for the size of this recreation area that offers outdoor activities galore—canoeing and kayaking, hiking and mountain biking. There are over 125,000 acres of forest land cut by steep-sided valleys leading down to the paddling destination that offers the Southeast's premier canoe camping experience. Backpackers have over 250 miles of trails to travel and tent campers can make Bandy Creek campground their basecamp.

Bandy Creek Campground is situated in the heart of the Big South Fork with four loops, one of which is exclusively for tent campers. You can let the hot showers flow after an active day exploring the BSF. A trail map of the Big South Fork, available at the Visitor Center near Bandy Creek, will direct mountain bikers to trails they can pedal. Two nearby choices are the Duncan Ridge Loop and the Collier Ridge Loop. A great hiking loop of six miles, the John Litton/General Slavens Loop passes by the John Litton farm, a pioneer homestead, a large rockhouse and Fall Branch Falls. Canoers can start at nearby Leatherwood Ford, cruise some exciting rapids, and enjoy some decent bass fishing. Kayakers will want to paddle the section above Leatherwood Ford from New River put-in passing such rapids as Washing Machine, Double Falls, and Jakes Hole. Before leaving, stop by one of the interesting rock formations, such as Needle Arch or Twin Arches.

Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 10 Dec 2012
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


Sign up to Away's Travel Insider

Preview newsletter »