Tent Camping | Photo Credit: Shutterstock - Natee Meepian
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If you are looking to escape the city and wake up each morning to the smell of fresh air, Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area may just be the place for you. With five campgrounds located right within the park, there are several options for you to decide what spot is best for you and your adventures. From wilderness backcountry sites to modern campgrounds, Big South Fork is filled with some amazing places to spend the night!

Table of Contents

Camping

1. Bandy Creek Campground

Bandy Creek Campground, Big South Fork NRRA, Tennessee | Photo Credit: Violet Sky Adventures
Bandy Creek Campground, Big South Fork NRRA, Tennessee | Photo Credit: Violet Sky Adventures

Number of Sites: 181 (mixture of trailer, tent and group camping)

Hookups: Water and Electric (30 & 50 amp)

Amenities: Dump station, fire rings, picnic tables, swimming pool, volleyball court, bathhouse, playground, Wi-Fi, camp store, horse stables, and hiking/horse trail access.

Open: Year-round

Nearest Cities: Jamestown, TN (24 miles) or Oneida, TN (15 miles)

The most popular of the campgrounds in Big South Fork is Bandy Creek Campground. Located in the heart of the park in Tennessee, this camping area boasts the most amenities and quickest access to nearby cities. Horses are allowed in the stables across the road from the campgrounds, but not allowed in camping area.

2. Blue Heron Campground

Number of Sites: 45

Hookups: Water and Electric (30 & 50 amp)

Amenities: Dump Station, bathhouse, picnic tables, fire rings, and Wi-Fi.

Open: April 1st through November 30th

Nearest City: Stearns, KY (9 miles)

Located near the historic mining community of Blue Heron, this campground is located on the Kentucky side of Big South Fork.

3. Station Creek Campground

Number of Sites: 24

Hookups: Water and Electric (30 amp)

Amenities: Dump station, bathhouse, horse tie-outs, Wi-Fi, and horse trail access.

Open: Year-round

Nearest City: Oneida, TN (9 miles)

Station Creek Campground is typically for those looking to bring their horses to go on trail rides, but all campers are welcome. This campground offers a secluded feel with direct access to trails.

4. Bear Creek Campground

Number of Sites: 23

Hookups: Water and Electric (30 & 50 amp)

Amenities: Dump station, bathhouse, horse tie-outs, grills, picnic tables, and direct access to horse trails.

Open: April 1st through November 30th

Nearest City: Stearns, KY (7 miles)

This camping area is on the Kentucky side of the Big South Fork park area. Another great spot for equestrian camping, the Bear Creek Campground is very secluded and offers a peaceful outdoor camping experience.

5. Alum Ford Campground

Alum Ford Campground, Big South Fork NRRA
Alum Ford Campground, Big South Fork NRRA | Photo Credit: National Park Service

Number of Sites: 6

Amenities: Pit toilets, picnic tables, and fire rings

Open: Year-round

Nearest City: Whitley City, KY (7 miles)

This primitive camping area is adjacent to the Alum Ford Boat Launch which allows access out onto Lake Cumberland. There are no hookups or fresh drinking water. This campground does not allow reservations and is first-come, first-serve only on an honor system for site payment.

6. Backcountry Camping

Within Big South Fork are many places to stay in the backcountry. Backcountry sites have no improvements and according to the National Park Service, there are no defined sites for reservation. However, there are many sites that have been created over time by those hiking and traveling. The park recommends to reuse existing backcountry sites during your stay if possible. For more information on camping and permits, please click here.

Lodging

Charit Creek Lodge

Charit Creek Lodge, Big South Fork NRRA, Tennessee
Charit Creek Lodge, Big South Fork NRRA, Tennessee | Photo Credit: Flickr – Mike Steinhoff

This unique overnight accommodation is accessed only by hiking a 1.3 mile trail. Visitors to the lodge will descend from the parking area into a valley and even get to cross a swinging bridge over Station Camp Creek. With no electricity or phone signal, you will be completely off-grid. There is running water for drinking and showers. Visitors will stay in some of the oldest cabins on National Park Service land. Breakfast and dinner is served to guests of the lodge and dogs are allowed as well.

Plan Your Visit

Big South Fork allows campers to reserve sites online, with the exception of Alum Ford. Specific sites can also be requested which allows flexibility in location. Be sure to know your trailer size when booking sites for RVs, some of the pad lengths listed on the website are the exact length, so take that into consideration for any car parking.

If you are not looking to stay within Big South Fork there are several other local campgrounds, hotels and vacation rentals that may better suit your needs.

Check out these awesome 13 Vacation Rentals Near Big South Fork!

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