Four Camping Destinations Near Cookeville

March 5, 2021  |  Permalink

Cummins Falls State Park in Cookeville Tennessee

Cookeville is within an hour of some of Tennessee's most beautiful waterfalls and overlooks. Take advantage of the proximity to these natural wonders with a camping trip. To help, we've compiled a list of three camping destinations within 50 miles of Cookeville:

Tip: If you need camping gear, check out our partnership with Arrive Outdoors. You can rent the gear you need online and have it shipped with free returns.


Edgar Evins State Park Spiral Staircase at Visitors Center

1. Edgar Evins State Park

Distance: 30 minutes west of Cookeville

Nearby Cities: Smithville, Gordonsville

Best For: Visiting multiple waterfalls.

Dogs: Dog-friendly. Dogs must be kept on a leash at all times.

Access: Tent and RV campsites drive-up. Tent-only campsites walk in.

Edgar Evins State Park sits on the shores of Center Hill Lake. Known for its boating, fishing, and watersports opportunities, Center Hill also provides beautiful scenery for the parks hiking trails. The park is centered between Cummins Falls* and Burgess Falls, only 30 minutes away from each. This makes the park a perfect home base for day trips out of the park to explore surrounding waterfalls in the Cookeville area. Those with kids will want to check out the park’s storybook trail which features large book page panels that kids can read along the trail. Don’t leave without climbing the spiral staircase at the visitor center to get a 360-degree view of the park and lake.

Camping: The campground consists of 60 tent and trailer campsites with electrical and water hookups. The wooden platform-type sites are built around the slopes of Center Hill Lake and are equipped with a picnic table, grill, and fire ring. They are designed for trailers or RVs up to 33 feet in length, with a few select sites up to 40 feet in length. 

While these sites can also accommodate small and large tents, there are a number of sites with gravel pads to accommodate tent campers. The tent sites are not equipped with water or electrical hookups.

*Please note that to enter the gorge at Cummins Falls and access the base of the waterfall, you must purchase a Gorge Access Permit either online or at the park. We recommend purchasing online to ensure your spot is reserved.


Suspension Bridge at Standing Stone State Park

2. Standing Stone State Park

Distance: 30 minutes north of Cookeville

Best For: Family-friendly car camping close to home

Dogs: Dog-friendly. Dogs must be kept on a leash at all times.

Access: All campsites are drive-up.

Standing Stone is the kind of park you keep going back to visit. It's a stunning park located just 30 minutes from Cookeville, making it the perfect last-minute getaway when you need to take some time to recharge. The park trails run past the lake at its center and up to a scenic area that offers views of the surrounding ridges and hills. Paddle rentals are available to explore the park lake. Standing Stone is a great central location for other outdoor adventures in the area. Visitors can enjoy Cummins Falls (30 minutes away), and Dale Hollow Lake is only a 10-minute drive from the park.

Camping: Standing Stone offers 36 sites that accommodate tents and RVs up to 45 feet. Each drive-up site is equipped with water and electric hookups, a picnic table, and a charcoal grill. Two central bathhouses offer restrooms and hot showers.


CCC Bridge With Kayak at Cumberland Mountain State Park

3. Cumberland Mountain State Park

Distance: 45 minutes east of Cookeville

Nearby Cities: Crossville, Crab Orchard, Monterey

Best For: Activities for the whole family and new campers

Dogs: Dog-friendly. Dogs must be kept on a leash at all times.

Access: Tent and RV campsites are drive-up. One backcountry site that is hike-in only.

Cumberland Mountain State Park is perfect for those just starting to camp or looking for a park with all the amenities. The park has features like an on-site restaurant, golf course, paddle rentals, and more. For the adventure seekers, there are four miles of mountain biking trails that feature jump lines and rocky technical areas to test your skills. Golfers can stay immersed in nature while playing a round at the park's Jack Nicklaus designed Bear Trace course. For those looking to take it easy, you can bring your own or rent a paddleboard, kayak, or canoe to paddle around the lake and even do some fishing.

Cumberland Mountain is very close to some popular waterfalls and outdoor destinations. Black Mountain is a breathtaking lookout point on the Cumberland Trail. The plunging visual of Ozone Falls is just a short drive too. Cumberland Mountain is also a great option for anyone looking to enjoy Fall Creek Falls State Park during the busy summer and fall seasons. While Fall Creek Falls cabins and campsites quickly fill up, Cumberland Mountain will often have sites available and is only 30 miles from Fall Creek Falls State Park. 

Camping: There are 145 tent and RV campsites with water and electrical hookups, picnic tables, grills, and fire pits. A bathhouse is centrally located in all of the camping areas with restrooms and hot showers. There is also one backcountry site that is accessed by hiking several miles across a swinging bridge and several creeks and streams. If this fits your skill level and sounds like the adventure you've been looking for, you can make your reservation by calling the park office.


Canoeing Under a Large Rock Arch at Pickett CCC Memorial State Park

4. Pickett CCC Memorial State Park

Distance: 1 hour and 20 minutes

Best For: The best stargazing in Tennessee and some of the most spectacular bluffs you can find.

Dogs: Dog-friendly. Dogs must be kept on a leash at all times.

Access: All campsites are drive-up.

You may not be able to travel out West to find open skies, but you can drive a little over an hour to the certified dark sky area at Pickett CCC Memorial State Park. There you'll find some of the darkest skies in Tennessee thanks to their status as an International Dark Sky Park. In addition to clear views of the night sky, the park features beautiful Rhododendron thickets, a lake lined with sandstone bluffs, natural stone bridges, rock houses, and rushing mountain streams to explore. Pickett CCC Memorial State Park, the state forest, Pogue Creek Canyon, and nearby Colditz Cove State Natural Area make this an outdoor oasis. 

Pickett is also located near two popular historic state parks: Cordell Hull Birthplace and Sgt. Alvin C. York. Cordell Hull was the longest-serving Secretary of State in U.S. history. He was instrumental in the nation’s response to the Great Depression and World War II. He even won a Nobel Peace Prize, which is on display at the park. Sgt. Alvin C. York is one of the most iconic soldiers who fought in World War One. The park has made efforts over recent years to help visitors step foot into life inside the trenches of the Great War. You literally can step into over 180 feet of reconstructed trench lines to really understand what life was like for the soldiers during that time. 

Camping: There are 27 campsites at Pickett CCC Memorial State Park, all of which provide water hookups, picnic tables, and grills. Electric hookups are offered at 20 of the campsites, and a central bathhouse includes access to restrooms and hot showers. We suggest bringing a tent with an open top for this adventure or packing some blankets to spread near your campsite for optimal star viewing.


About the author