Four campsites near Chattanooga with side adventures to explore

From stargazing to swimming, plenty of unique opportunities await at various campsites across the Southeast. The camping experience, after all, should be about more than simply sleeping in a tent. Here are four of our favorite regional camp spots, plus the side adventures they afford.


Harrison Bay State Park

With 1,200 acres of land bordering Chickamauga Lake, Harrison Bay has a ton of camping options: 128 RV campsites with water and electrical hookups and 27 tent sites with shaded gravel pads, water spigots and fire rings. Located 18 miles northeast of downtown, it also boasts little light pollution, making it known as a great place for stargazing. In fact, throughout the year, Barnard Astronomical Society of Chattanooga hosts "star parties" in one of the park's main parking lots where night-sky experts share their telescopes and binoculars with the public. Find the next star event by following the society on Facebook.


Len Foote Hike Inn

For a one-of-a-kind glamping experience, the Len Foote Hike Inn is not to be missed. The 20-room hostel is accessible only via an easy to moderate 5-mile hike through Georgia's Chattahoochee National Forest, about two hours southeast of Chattanooga. The rooms are outfitted with an extra-long single-size bunk bed (mats available to put young children on the floor), linens and a heater or fan as necessary. A bathhouse offers solar-heated showers and odorless composting toilets. Guests can expect a home-cooked meal for breakfast and dinner, plus a chance to truly unplug. Cell phones and laptops are not allowed. Reservations are required.


Cherokee National Forest

The Ocoee River is world-famous for its whitewater, which is created by scheduled dam releases. On days when the dams do not release, sections of the riverbed become an oasis of small, shallow swimming holes. The Ocoee Blue Hole is one of its most popular. From the former site of the Ocoee Whitewater Center (which burned down in April), follow the Old Copper Road Trail upriver. In less than a mile, you'll begin to see spur trails leading to pools of water. But before you make the hourlong drive from Chattanooga, be sure to check the dam release schedule (, which changes throughout the summer. Generally, Tuesdays and Wednesdays are the safest bets for good swimming. When you're ready to dry off, check out Thunder Rock, the closest campground, located on the other side of the whitewater park. The riverfront campground has 37 sites. Choose site 9 if you want electrical hookup.

  photo  Staff photo by Matt Hamilton / Swimmers keep cool near the Ocoee Whitewater Center in Polk County, Tenn. on Friday, June 10, 2022.

Lower Pot Point

The newly opened Lower Pot Point campsites, located off the Pot Point Nature Trail near Chattanooga, offer great bouldering opportunities in addition to convenient camping. It's just a 1.4-mile hike from the parking lot to the three campsites, with trail access from both the Pot Point Nature Loop and the Ritchie Hollow Trailhead at 17805 River Canyon Road. The campsites feature a raised area for pitching tents, fire pits and picnic tables. The site itself boasts over 30 bouldering sites, developed in partnership by Tennessee River Gorge Trust and Southeastern Climbers Coalition. Reservations are free and may be made online.