Whether you are looking to have a primitive camping experience in a small tent, or are more attracted to the “glamping” life of a luxurious RV, the Manchester area is home to numerous campgrounds suited for families on a road trip vacation, “snowbirds” travelling the country, or fishermen looking to capitalize on Tennessee’s abundant lakes. Check out these campgrounds located near Manchester and surrounding lakes and state parks.
Campers in Tennessee should be aware that campfires can only be made with heat-treated or downed wood, collected nearby. Many of these campgrounds sell wood that meets this policy.
Camping gear and supplies can be found at The Sportsman’s Corner in Manchester (2161 Hillsboro Blvd, 931-954-5510) Dunham’s Sports in Tullahoma (1802 N. Jackson St., 931-454-0548) or Mountain Outfitters in Monteagle (903 W. Main St., 931-924-4100).
Manchester KOA | 586 Campground Rd., Manchester
Located directly off of I-24 between Nashville and Chattanooga, the Manchester KOA Is one of the highest award-winning KOA campgrounds in the U.S. and is an ideal location for a quick stay for “snowbirds” when travelling between the Northern and Southern United States. Owned by a local family that prides itself on community involvement, the Manchester KOA is a kid-friendly campground with plenty of amenities, including a swimming pool, a mini spray park, a playground, a basketball area and outdoor bowling. For nature enthusiasts, the KOA offers a catch-and-release fishing pond and a nature walk to enjoy with your pets, who can then be cleaned in the campground’s “dog wash.” At the main office, campers can shop at the on-site gift shop and convenience store, or utilize the laundry room or nearby 24/7 exercise room. The Manchester KOA is the only campground that directly backs up to the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival, and the owner rents limousines each year to take campers— who book their spots months in advance— into the festival and to local stores and restaurants. The KOA offers a variety of cabins and camping spots with electricity, water and sewage. The campground also offers firewood, propane, ice and satellite-friendly spots to its visitors.
Normandy Lake | Normandy and Manchester
Barton Springs: 931-857-3777
Cedar Point: 931-857-3705
At the 17-mile-long Normandy reservoir, a popular spot for local fisherman looking for bass, catfish and crappie, fishermen and visitors can find camping accommodations at both Barton Springs (158 Barton Springs Rd., Normandy) and Cedar Point (1659 Cedar Point Rd., Manchester). These seasonal campgrounds are directly across the lake from each other and offer a peaceful environment “surrounded by rolling hills and farmland.” Barton Springs has 70 campsites, with 11 sites that are on the waterfront, while Cedar Point has 52 sites, with 10 sites on the waterfront. Both campgrounds have lake views, picnic tables, grills, water and electricity at each site, with a sewage disposal station, day-use areas, a beach and a pavilion close by. Cedar Point also offers primitive camping, a boat launch and a general store on the heavily-wooded premises. Barton Springs has a boat ramp in the area. The campgrounds can accommodate both big rigs and tents, and both are pet-friendly. These campgrounds are perfect for fishermen or those looking for sweeping views of a Tennessee waterfront. Reservations are encouraged.
Old Stone Fort State Archaeological Park | 732 Stone Fort Drive, Manchester
The Old Stone Fort State Archaeological Park is an 844-acre historic area built around a 2,000-year-old Native American ceremonial site and the Duck and Little Duck rivers. The park offers 51 campsites for campers, RVs or tents, with water, electricity, fire rings, grills, picnic tables and hard-surface pads at each camping spot. Pea gravel tent pads are also available. In addition to a seasonal shower facility, the campground has a year-round sewage disposal station and restroom facility. The campground, located on the other side of a one-lane turquoise bridge in the park, has two hiking trails that begin within the campground, and it is located a short distance from a shaded area with a playground, picnic tables and pavilion. The visitor center, where most of the hiking trails begin, is a short drive or walk up the road. Though the camping area feels very private and remote in the heavily-wooded forest, the park is a quick drive to downtown Manchester and a variety of restaurants, shopping and the Manchester Recreational Complex. Old Stone Fort accepts both walk-ins and reservations for the camp sites.
South Cumberland State Park | Grundy, Franklin, Marion and Sequatchie counties
The South Cumberland State Park, home to miles of popular hiking trails and waterfalls, offers one proper campground at Foster Falls and over 100 backcountry camping locations. The Foster Falls Campground has 26 rustic campsites for tents or small trailers, with a fire ring and picnic table at each site. Open year-round, the campground is located in a shady, wooded area without any water or electricity hook-ups. Restrooms and heated showers are available, however. The campground is a short distance from the southern terminus of the Fiery Gizzard trail and the 60-foot tall Foster Falls. Elsewhere in the park, there are numerous campsites, group campsites and one cabin located at 12 backcountry campgrounds along the Fiery Gizzard and Savage Gulf trails. Each site has fire rings and a pit toilet. Most of the campsites can only be reached by hiking, though some are close to parking lots. Water must be sourced naturally and filtered or brought from outside the park. The group campsites can accommodate 30-60 people, while the other sites can accommodate four adults and two children. The Hobbs Cabin can host six people. All campsites require reservations.
Tims Ford State Park | Winchester
Visitor center: 931-962-1183
Main campground: 931-962-1182
Fairview campground: 931-967-4230
The picturesque Tims Ford State Park, located on a large reservoir in Winchester, is home to two campgrounds and numerous primitive campgrounds. The main campground, located near the visitor center (570 Tims Ford Drive, Winchester), swimming pool, hiking trails, golf course, marina and the park’s restaurant, is open year-round and offers 52 campsites, water, 30-amp electric hookups, bathhouses and a sewage disposal station for its campers. The campground is located on a woody bluff, a short walk to the lake, and also has a playground for children and spots for primitive camping. Tims Ford’s other large campground, Fairview, is open from April to October and has flatter sites that are more accommodating to large rigs. Like the main campground, Fairview possesses water, a sewage disposal station, a bathhouse and better electric (50, 30 and 20 amp), in addition to a pavilion, a volleyball court and 30 more campsites. This campground is located about 8 miles from the visitor’s center and closer to Winchester. The Fairview campground is also located directly on the lake, with less tree coverage, allowing campers to pull their boats up directly to their sunny campsites. At the end of March, 18 of Fairview’s campsites are auctioned off to buyers for the entirety of the 6-month season. Picnic tables, fire rings and accommodations for either RVs or tents are available at both locations. Reservations are required.
Tims Ford also offers primitive camping to its visitors, located at each of the six islands in the reservoir, and along the park’s hiking trails. The Turkey Creek primitive camping site is near a boat ramp, for those hoping to camp and fish during their stay, and another location is available on the 13 mile out-and-back Ray Branch bike trail. These camping sites require a free permit to utilize them.