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5 Lesser Known Campgrounds to Explore

April 3, 2018  |  Permalink

Lesser Known Campgrounds - Photo: Huffoto Photography


There’s an intrinsic desire inside most people to do something or know something before anyone else. The entire idea of being “cool” or a “trend setter” is that you’re stepping out into an area where few others have ventured. It is the same motive that drove the pioneers and explorers to push westward. It’s the same desire  pushing us further and deeper into space exploration and new technology.

Let’s take this same idea and apply it to camping. What if you knew the best campgrounds to get away from the crowds and enjoy the outdoors? Most people head east toward the Cumberland Plateau or the Great Smoky Mountains when looking for a place to camp. Yet, what if you didn’t go east? What if you broke with common logic and decided to chart your own path of westward exploration? For those who want smaller crowds and more unique experiences, we’ve pulled together this list of five lesser known campgrounds, all of which are in West Tennessee (Top Photo: Big Hill Pond courtesy of Huffoto Photography):


Meeman-Shelby Forest Campground

Meeman-Shelby Forest State Park


Another park located along the Mississippi River and Highway 51 is Meeman-Shelby Forest State Park. The 20 miles of hiking trails, river access boat ramp, and disc golf course make it a popular day use area for Memphis and Millington residents. Yet, it’s also a great place for overnight guests. It’s close enough to Memphis to enjoy a night on Beale Street, yet far enough away to take advantage of the peace and beauty found in 12,000-acres of hardwood bottomland. 

The park boasts 49 campsites, each equipped with a table, grill, electrical and water hookups. A modern bathhouse for hot showers and a dump station for self-contained rigs make this a great stop for tent and RV campers.


Big Hill Pond Camping

Big Hill Pond State Park


Considering all that it has to offer, Big Hill Pond is one of the least utilized parks in West Tennessee. Most people think of the region as flat, but Big Hill Pond and other parks on this list defy that logic. The park has 30-miles of overnight and day use hiking trails with fairly significant elevation changes.  In addition to hiking, there are 14-miles of horseback riding and mountain biking trails. Big Hill Pond is also a great place to cast a fishing line and rent a canoe or kayak in the summer months. 

In terms of camping, the park is perfect for tents. While there are no water or electric hookups at individual sites, there are tables and grills. There is also a modern bathhouse with hot showers. The park even has primitive campsites (lacking water or electric hookups) that are perfect for larger groups, like scout troops.


Fort Pillow Campground

Fort Pillow State Historic Park


This park is known as a Civil War historic site, with a reconstructed section of the inner fort situated on top of a bluff overlooking the Mississippi River.  It’s also home to 20 miles of hiking trails and is a great place to camp along Highway 51. 

The campground has six sites that can accommodate RV and camper trailers, along with 15 sites that have 20-amp power outlets. These sites are ideal for tent campers who want to charge phones or have other power needs (lights, appliances, etc.). Water is available nearby for meal prep along with two full-service bathhouses that are handicap accessible. 


Nathan Bedford Forrest Campground

Nathan Bedford Forrest State Park


Located on Kentucky Lake between Jackson and Nashville, fishing is king. Three boating access points are available in the park at no cost. Fisherman often catch smallmouth, largemouth and striped bass, sauger, crappie, bream and catfish. In addition to angling, visitors will find 20 miles of hiking trails that range from short jaunts to longer treks. 

The park has three campgrounds, two of which are primitive. Happy Hollow RV Campground has 37 sites, with electric and water hookups, a playground, a central bathhouse and a dump station for self-contained rigs. The primitive sites are situated along the lakeside, providing tent campers with a beautiful and unique camping experience. 


TO Fuller Campground

T.O. Fuller State Park


The last park on this list is actually the closest of all to the Memphis area. T.O. Fuller State Park is only 10 miles south of Beale Street and six miles from Graceland! It’s one of the best options for visiting Memphis on a budget. 

The park boasts 45 campsites that are RV accessible. Some of the sites can accommodate up to 85 feet of RV space. Tent campers are also welcome. Each site is equipped with a picnic table, lantern hanger, fire ring, grill, electrical and water hook-ups. The campground has a picnic shelter, playground, bathhouse and laundry. The bathhouse is centrally located and contains restroom facilities, coin laundry, and showers. There is also a centralized dumping station near the entrance of the campground.


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Tennessee State Parks