COVID-19 UPDATES: Keeping Visitors Healthy

Two Day Getaways Outdoors in Tennessee

June 30, 2021  |  Permalink

People canoeing at Pickett State ParkPhoto: ©Tennessee Photographs

A quick getaway can be just what's needed to get back into the rhythms of everyday life. Even two days spent in nature can reset our minds and bodies. With a short amount of time and lots of great options for outdoor adventures across Tennessee, how do you choose?

To help you take that much-needed vacation, we’ve put together six ideas for two-day getaways at Tennessee State Parks across the state. Bonus: Here are some tips that will help you plan the best trip.

Skip to the type of trip you’re interested in:

 

Man Standing on Rocks in Front of Cummins Falls

Chase Waterfalls in Middle Tennessee

There are tons of waterfalls in Middle Tennessee. However, some of the parks with waterfalls you want to visit may not offer overnight accommodations or they're booked up. In that case, make a basecamp at one of the parks below and take day trips to visit surrounding waterfalls. This is a great way to explore multiple parks in a short amount of time.

Boat Docks at the Lake at Edgar Evins State Park

Edgar Evins State Park - Middle, TN

Overnight Accommodations: Cabins and camping

The affordable cabins and campsites at this park are the perfect home base for chasing waterfalls in the surrounding area. Visit nearby Cummins Falls, Burgess Falls, Window Cliffs State Natural Area, or Rock Island State Park. Inside the park, you’ll find more opportunities for hiking, fishing, boating, and wildlife viewing.

BOOK NOW

Foster Falls Waterfall at South Cumberland State Park on a Sunny Day

South Cumberland State Park - Middle, TN

Overnight Accommodations: Primitive and Backcountry Camping

For those interested in a more rugged waterfall chasing experience, camping at South Cumberland State Park is a great option. With tons of waterfalls inside the park, you can set up camp and start exploring! Be aware that the campsites at Foster Falls Campground are primitive, and all other sites within the park require a hike in. Only book backcountry sites if you have experience with backpacking as they require skill to reach safely.

BOOK NOW

Cumberland Mountain State Park Stone Bridge Over Lake

Cumberland Mountain State Park - Middle, TN

Overnight Accommodations: Cabins and camping

Located on the Cumberland Plateau, this park is surrounded by some incredible waterfalls. Ozone Falls is a 110-foot waterfall located under 30 minutes from Cumberland Mountain. Fall Creek Falls is home to multiple impressive waterfalls but is often fully booked for cabin stays. If you’re looking to stay in a cabin and experience this park, Cumberland Mountain is a great option. Inside the park, you’ll find paddling rentals, hiking, golf, mountain biking, and more.

BOOK NOW

 

Camping Cabin in the Woods at Pickwick Landing State Park

Retreat to a Camping Cabin

If the thought of packing the car with camping gear doesn’t sound relaxing, but you’re still looking for an authentic and affordable outdoor experience, check out camping cabins! Camping cabins provide the basic amenities you love about higher-priced rental options while preserving the rustic feel of camping. Their affordability and high availability make them a first-choice for spontaneous trips.

Sunset Over Kentucky Lake at Paris Landing State Park

Paris Landing State Park - West, TN

Overnight Accommodations: Cabins, Camping Cabins, and Camping

Located near Land Between the Lakes in upper west Tennessee, Paris Landing is an ideal park for a relaxing getaway by the water. Hiking, fishing, boating, paddling, golfing, and on-site dining options allow you to fill your two days with non-stop activities or kick back by the lake with a good book and some fish tacos.

BOOK NOW

Kayaks on the shore at Pin Oak Lake Inside Natchez Trace State Park

Natchez Trace - West, TN

Overnight Accommodations: Cabins, Camping Cabins, and Camping.

Surrounded by over 48,000 acres of state park, forestry, and wildlife management land, Natchez Trace is a remote wilderness getaway that will have you in pure bliss. The camping cabins sit on the shores of Pin Oak Lake, offering fishing, boating, and paddling. This park is great for cycling, and the hiking trails are abundant. The on-site restaurant makes mealtime relaxing, and the camp store can provide a solution for forgotten supplies without leaving the park.

BOOK NOW

 

Night Sky View at Pogue Creek Canyon State Natural Area

Stargaze by the Campfire

Make the most of your 48-hour getaway by experiencing something most of us can’t at home–incredible views of the stars. Gazing up at the night sky from a state park is a unique and rejuvenating experience. Spend the day exploring, the night marveling at the beauty above, and then rest easy in a cozy campsite or cabin.

Kayak Rentals by the lake at Big Hill Pond State Park

Big Hill Pond State Park - West, TN

Overnight Accommodations: Primitive Camping (no water or electric hookups)

Climb the 70-foot observation tower, paddle the lake, explore the boardwalk that winds through Dismal Swamp, and gaze at the stars from your peaceful campsite. Big Hill Pond is a haven for wildlife and incredible night sky views. 

BOOK NOW

Couple Canoeing Under a Large Rock Arch at Pickett State Park

Pickett State Park - Middle, TN

Overnight Accommodations: Cabins and camping

The park is a designated dark sky zone and offers some of the most impressive views of the stars in Tennessee. During the day, visitors can canoe, explore Hazard Cave, and take in expansive views at Pogue Creek Canyon. Exploring the unique beauty of the Upper Cumberland will make this a trip to remember.

BOOK NOW

 

Exterior View of Lodge Montgomery Bell at night

"Book and Go Outdoor" Retreat

The Lodges at Tennessee State Parks

Who says an outdoor vacation has to require a ton of gear or planning. When you stay at a Tennessee State Park Lodge, you get to skip the meal prep, the gear packing, and the pressure to find activities. Each Lodge offers on-site dining and comfortable hotel-style rooms with outdoor adventures waiting just outside your door. The Lodges also provide amenities that you’d find in a hotel like wifi, pools, fitness rooms, and complimentary continental breakfast. There are four lodges to choose from at Montgomery Bell State Park, Pickwick Landing State Park, Natchez Trace State Park, and Henry Horton State Park. Each park offers different outdoor activities, but most provide water activities, hiking, biking, and educational programs.

BOOK NOW

 

Replica Cabin at David Crockett Birthplace State Park

Discover Tennessee History

Engage with Tennessee’s rich history while enjoying the outdoors. From east to west, you'll find state parks that allow you to step into the past and experience the history that shaped Tennessee. Parks that offer historical interpretation also offer other outdoor adventures such as hiking, paddling, and fishing, so you get the best of both.

Waterfall at Old Stone Fort State Park

Old Stone Fort State Archeological Park - Middle, TN. 

Overnight Accommodations: Camping

This park is filled with 2,000 years worth of history, incredible hiking, and a campground! It preserves a prehistoric Native American ceremonial site. The mounds at the park were created by Woodland Native Americans to celebrate events like the Summer Solstice. The park is also home to some beautiful waterfalls and rivers that provide incredible opportunities for hiking and fishing.

BOOK NOW

Man Looking Out from Sauls Mound at Pinson Mound State Park

Pinson Mounds State Archeological Park - West, TN. 

Overnight Accommodations: Camping at nearby Chickasaw State Park

Make a home base at Chickasaw State Park where you can paddle, ride horses, hike, fish, and explore nearby forestry lands. Then venture out to explore nearby Pinson Mounds State Park. This archeological site contains at least 17 mounds created by Woodland Native Americans, including Saul’s Mound that stands 70 feet tall. You can make the climb to the top of Saul's Mound and explore the park's museum.

BOOK NOW

Nolichucky River at David Crockett Birthplace State Park

David Crockett Birthplace - East, TN.

Overnight Accommodations: Camping

Step back in time and experience the life of pioneer, soldier, and politician David Crockett. The park commemorates his birthplace and includes an 18th-century living farmstead and replica cabin. Fish and paddle on the Nolichucky River, hike, and explore nearby Johnson City.

BOOK NOW

 

Natchez Trace Parkway Bridge in Franklin Tennessee During Fall

Explore the Natchez Trace Parkway

Those who live in the Nashville area should make the iconic drive down the Natchez Trace Parkway at some point. This gorgeous parkway winds past points of interest like the Natchez Trace Bridge and other roadside attractions.

Couple Standing at the top of a Waterfall at David Crockett State Park

David Crockett State Park - Middle, TN.

Overnight Accommodations: Cabins and Camping

From the Nashville area, hop on the parkway and head south towards David Crockett State Park where you can grab a cabin on the lake or campsite tucked in the woods. Enjoy the beautiful drive and stop along the way to check out points of interest. David Crockett offers a lake for fishing and paddling, creeks for exploring, paved bike trails, multiple waterfalls, and a museum depicting Crockett’s life.

*Don’t confuse this park with David Crockett Birthplace State Park located in East, TN.

BOOK NOW

Fishing Dock During Sunset at Pickwick Landing State Park

Pickwick Landing State Park - West, TN.

Overnight Accommodations: Lodge, Cabins, and Camping

Those who are looking to extend their trek down the Natchez Trace Parkway can set their destination for Pickwick Landing State Park. This park offers a newly renovated lodge and restaurant on the shores of Pickwick Lake. This is an ideal destination for anyone who loves fishing, boating, or water sports.

BOOK NOW


While you're planning, keep these things in mind:

  • All Tennessee State Parks are free to enter.
  • Cabins at Tennessee State Parks have a two-night minimum (and may have additional minimums at peak times).
  • Campsites must be reserved at least one day in advance. Reservations can be made online or by calling the park.
  • All parks with cabins offer camping as well.
  • All of our campgrounds are pet-friendly and all parks with lodging have a number of pet-friendly cabins and lodge rooms.
  • If cabins are full at a park you’re interested in, consider camping there instead. We’ve also noted which parks offer overnight accommodations so if a park you’re looking into is full you have options.
  • You don’t have to own gear to go camping. We have a partnership that helps you rent outdoor gear online such as camping, backpacking, and hiking gear.
  • When you’re visiting our parks, please remember to practice responsible recreation to reduce your impact.
  • Additional resources for trip planning can be found on our website.

About the author