Tennessee State Parks Are FREE… Here Are Our Favorite State Parks Near Nashville

by Lynnette

Camping, Franklin Fun Stuff, Nashville Fun Stuff, Parks, Water Fun

Did you know that wherever you are in Tennessee there’s a state park within an hour’s drive?!

I live in Nashville, and I can attest to the fact that it’s true for us.

But the best news is that all 56 Tennessee state parks are FREE!

Find Tennessee state parks and other national parks nearby.


Most of Tennessee’s state parks used to charge $3 or so per vehicle just to enter the park and enjoy nature at its finest — plus a few cool amenities provided by the state.

But now there is no admission fee and no parking fee whatsoever.

So, if you haven’t been to one of Tennessee’s state parks in awhile, this might be something you want to add to your Summer Bucket List or your Nashville Bucket List.

Tennessee’s state park system was recently ranked by the National Recreation and Parks Association as one of the top 4 state park systems in the country. Florida was No. 1, and Tennessee was tied with North Carolina and Missouri for second place. Source

Here’s a Tennessee state park map of trails and list of TN state parks with camping.


Our Favorite Tennessee State Parks


#1 – Fall Creek Falls State Park

The most visited state park in Tennessee, Fall Creek Falls is a “resort park” that’s known as one of the most spectacular recreation areas in the country! Its waterfalls (the highest waterfalls east of the Rocky Mountains — at 256 feet) are viewable from the main auto route. Plus, there are lots of streams and gorges. It’s the perfect place to spend a day with a camera. And there are lots of fun things to do there too: biking (3-mile paved bike trail, plus 20 miles of mountain biking trails), hiking (50 miles of hiking trails!), boating (pedal boats, canoes and aluminum fishing boats can be rented on-site). The all-u-can-eat buffet at the Gaul’s Gallery Restaurant is to die for! And the view while you’re eating is amazing — because you’re overlooking the scenic Fall Creek Lake.


#2 – Tim’s Ford State Park

Tims Ford State Park, located on the Tims Ford Reservoir in the rolling hills of southern middle Tennessee. The 10,700-acre Tims Ford Lake is one of the most picturesque in Tennessee and is regarded as one of the top bass fishing and recreational lakes in the Southeast. There are 5 miles of paved trails for biking, plus the wide open “main road” itself is great for bicycling as well. The cabins are plentiful, yet the atmosphere is quiet and peaceful. It seems there is rarely a crowd at Tim’s Ford Lake. We also like that you can rent pontoon boats here (…and they’ll let you take your dog on board).


#3 – Paris Landing State Park

We like Paris Landing State Park because of its close proximity to the Land Between The Lakes (170,000 acres of undeveloped, uninhabited land situated on a peninsula with 300 miles of natural shoreline and 420 miles of country roads), Kentucky Lake (184 miles in length, with 2,064 miles of shoreline), and Lake Barkley (134 miles in length with 1,004 miles of shoreline). This is the state park where we choose to camp and swim and go offroading in our Jeep whenever we’re in the area.


Tennessee State Parks offer many recreational opportunities for people across the state. All 56 state parks offer hiking and picnicking as activities, but many also have fishing, boating, biking and camping as well as interpretive programs. There are 6 Tennessee State Parks with inns and conference centers. Many of the parks also have restaurants that can also provide on-site catering. 8 parks feature golf course, 3 of which are signature Jack Nicklaus designed Bear Trace golf courses. Source

Check out Ms. Cheap’s tips for enjoying the beautiful scenery at Tennessee’s state parks.


More Like This…

In addition to the links I’ve included above, here are some other articles we’ve written to help you find fun things to do around Middle Tennessee: