Camping in the Southeast United States - My Top Six Spots

Updated on May 8, 2016
Our current camping vehicle - Smokey
Our current camping vehicle - Smokey
Our Pop-Up Camper
Our Pop-Up Camper

Camping

Camping is a family activity that can be as rough or as elegant as you want it to be. Often, people view camping as dirty, buggy and primitive. It can be that way but there are many other options. There are varieties of camping units and campgrounds for all budgets and with all types of amenities.

Our family loves to camp. We've spent the last nine years camping during our vacations and extended weekends. While a great way to bond as a family, camping is also a lot more inexpensive than staying in a hotel! As an added benefit, there are no bedbugs to worry about!

Over the years we have camped in tents of all shapes and sizes. After a few years we graduated to a pop up camper that we loved and used for a couple of years. Before we moved to Tennessee, we sold our pop up. In 2006 we purchased a 19-foot camper that just fits the three of us plus a large dog. I wouldn't trade anything for it.

We have been camping in the Southeast United States in dozens of campgrounds in nine years. We have done the primitive thing. We have camped in high dollar resorts with spas. Out of all of them, here are my top six.

Little River Falls near DeSoto State Park
Little River Falls near DeSoto State Park

DeSoto State Park, Fort Payne, Alabama

DeSoto State Park, in Fort Payne, Alabama, is located in the northeast corner of the state. Covering 3,502 acres, the area is lush with waterfalls, hiking trails and many things to do. In the improved camping area, there are 94 full hook-up sites (water, electricity and sewer) with two nearby comfort stations. The primitive camping area has 20 sites and a pit toilet.

There is a lodge with a restaurant (that has a spectacular view), a playground and seasonal nature programs. Our favorite attractions nearby are The Little River Canyon National Preserve, the unique Sallie Howard Memorial Chapel, the Alabama Fan Club Museum and Sequoyah Caverns. The nearby small town of Fort Payne is dubbed the "Sock Capital of the World." Chattanooga, Tennessee is only about an hour away with even more activities for all.

For more information or to make reservations, call DeSoto State Park at 1-800-ALA-PARK.

Tickfaw State Park, Springfield, Louisiana

Tickfaw State Park, in Springfield, Louisiana, is about forty-five minutes from Baton Rouge and an hour from New Orleans. Only about 10 minutes away is the city of Ponchatoula, known as "America's Antique City."

Situated among ancient trees dripping with Spanish Moss, Tickfaw State Park is a lovely place for a getaway. There are 30 improved campsites (water and electricity) and 20 with water only. One restroom is located within the campground. The four hiking trails offer glimpses of the swamp, forest and the Tickfaw River. Our family enjoyed renting a canoe to travel down the Tickfaw River (in spite of the fact that we once capsized). The water playground is provides a nice break in hot weather and the Nature Center is one of the best we've visited.

For reservations at Tickfaw State Park, call 1-877-CAMP-N-LA toll free.

View of Stone Mountain from our campsite across the lake
View of Stone Mountain from our campsite across the lake

Stone Mountain Park, Stone Mountain, Georgia

Stone Mountain Campground, within Stone Mountain Park outside Atlanta, Georgia, has numerous amenities. There are primitive (no hook-ups) and developed sites (some with water and electricity, and some additionally with sewer). There is a pool, playground, lake sites with fantastic views, fishing, seasonal hayrides and ice cream socials. In season, there is ferry service to Stone Mountain.

Two of our all-time favorite restaurants are nearby. Metro Cafe Diner is located just outside the park boundary and Gladys and Ron's Chicken and Waffles (as in Gladys Knight) is several miles away in Lithonia. Atlanta offers hundreds of things to do, from the Georgia Aquarium to the Coca-Cola Museum to CNN Center.

For reservation information at Stone Mountain Campground, call 1-800-385-9807.

Beauty of the Smokies
Beauty of the Smokies

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

There are ten developed campgrounds in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park that is half in Tennessee and half in North Carolina. In the national park, "developed" means that there are designated campsites, suitable for tents or campers. There are no electrical or water hook-ups. Restrooms with cold running water are available. Wildlife, including black bear, white-tailed deer, wild turkeys and more are abundant. Rules concerning cooking materials and food storage are very strict, so as to discourage the wildlife from approaching campsites.

Our favorite campgrounds are Cades Cove (lots of bears and deer), Elkmont (sites on the Little River) and Smokemont (elk nearby). All the campgrounds are extremely popular and fill quickly. Reservations are strongly recommended, sometimes months in advance.

Call 1-877-444-6777 for reservations at a campground in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Note that some of the campgrounds are on a first-come, first-served basis.

St. Andrews State Park
St. Andrews State Park

St. Andrews State Park, Panama City, Florida

St. Andrews State Park, in Panama City, Florida, is a popular spot for campers and day-use visitors. The campground accommodates tents and RVs with your choice of hook-ups. A few sites are on St. Andrews Bay. Within the park are two different swimming areas, one of them being popular for snorkeling. I love this campground for having its own private beaches. Hiking trails are popular and birdwatchers will love the rookery.

Call 1-800-326-3521 for reservations at St. Andrews State Park.

A manatee in the St. Johns River at Blue Spring State Park
A manatee in the St. Johns River at Blue Spring State Park

Blue Spring State Park, Orange City, Florida

Blue Spring State Park, a 2,600 acre paradise in Orange City, Florida, is about an hour or so from Walt Disney World and Orlando. On the banks of the St. Johns River, this campground offers water and electrical hook-up sites. Swimming, snorkeling and scuba diving are popular in the crystal-clear Blue Spring. Hiking trails wend through the ancient oaks.

Manatees winter in the St. Johns River where the water is warm. They can be seen swimming up and down the river beginning in November each year. Water activities are not permitted when manatees are present.

The St. Johns River Cruises offers boat tours down the river and a variety of birds, wildlife and alligators may be seen.

Reservations for Blue Spring State Park can be made at 1-800-326-3521.

Camping in the Southeast United States

show route and directions
A markerDeSoto State Park, AL -
Desoto State Park, Fort Payne, AL 35967, USA
get directions

B markerTickfaw State Park, LA -
Tickfaw State Park, 27225 Patterson Rd, Springfield, LA 70462-8906, USA
get directions

C markerStone Mountain, GA -
Stone Mountain, GA, USA
get directions

D markerGreat Smoky Mountains National Park -
Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Gatlinburg, TN 37738, USA
get directions

E markerSt. Andrews State Park, FL -
St Andrews State Park, 4607 State Park Ln, Panama City, FL 32408-7347, USA
get directions

F markerBlue Spring State Park, FL -
Blue Spring State Park, 2100 W French Ave, Orange City, FL 32763, USA
get directions

Questions & Answers

    Comments

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    • Esmeowl12 profile imageAUTHOR

      Cindy A Johnson 

      4 years ago from Sevierville, TN

      I will, thanks. :)

    • susanouzts profile image

      Susan B. Ouzts 

      4 years ago from Monroe County, GA

      Hope you make it to Vogel. If you enjoy camping (or an RV) at the beach, check out my hub about Hunting Island State Park. We go there several times a year and it is wonderful!

      \https://hubpages.com/travel/Beach-Camping-on-the-C...

    • Esmeowl12 profile imageAUTHOR

      Cindy A Johnson 

      4 years ago from Sevierville, TN

      I'll try to do that. Thanks for stopping by & thanks for the camping tip.

    • susanouzts profile image

      Susan B. Ouzts 

      4 years ago from Monroe County, GA

      Love your top 6 spots! I hope to visit Cades Cove in the coming year. If you get to Georgia to camp again, try Vogel. It is one of Georgia's best state parks!

    • Esmeowl12 profile imageAUTHOR

      Cindy A Johnson 

      5 years ago from Sevierville, TN

      I'll try to make it funnier next time. Ha, ha!

    • Esmeowl12 profile imageAUTHOR

      Cindy A Johnson 

      5 years ago from Sevierville, TN

      It's always camping time!

    • Happyboomernurse profile image

      Gail Sobotkin 

      5 years ago from South Carolina

      This is a wonderful list of campgrounds in the Southeast USA.

      When my son was growing up we owned a small pop-up camper and had lots of fun with it.

      Now that my husband and I are older, we still like to visit state and national parks, so this list will come in handy as we continue to explore that part of the country.

      Voted up across the board except for funny.

    • tammyswallow profile image

      Tammy 

      5 years ago from North Carolina

      Great hub! My family and I hope to get into camping. I have been to Stone Mountain Georgia, and your other sites look awesome too. I want to go NOW. :)

    • Esmeowl12 profile imageAUTHOR

      Cindy A Johnson 

      5 years ago from Sevierville, TN

      The memories of the experience will be with our children forever. What a gift!

    • jessefutch profile image

      jessefutch 

      5 years ago from North Carolina

      Thumbs up on Stone Mountain and the Smokies. My family and I have camped both and found them to be serene and beautiful. What a great time camping can be. You are right about it being a fantastic bonding experience. With three young boys, no better vacation exists than camping (except maybe leaving the boys with Grandma and the wife and I running off to Vegas!).

    • Esmeowl12 profile imageAUTHOR

      Cindy A Johnson 

      5 years ago from Sevierville, TN

      Thanks, Ellen! I love driving our little camper around to different places. It's always fun to explore something new. Thanks for commenting!

    • Ellen Karman profile image

      Ellen Karman 

      5 years ago from medina, Ohio

      Oh, my ambition is to travel in a class c RV and go to these places and many more around our great country! Great Hub, so glad I found it by hub hopping and I'm voting this up and useful and beautiful. Thank you for sharing your experiences with me. Ellen Karman

    • mperrottet profile image

      Margaret Perrottet 

      5 years ago from San Antonio, FL

      These look like some great great camping spots. My husband and I are retired, and camp in our travel trailer for about 5 months out of the year. I haven't yet been to any of the campgrounds that you mentioned, but I'll bookmark this for future reference. We're staying at Topsail Beach State Park this winter for two weeks - that's close to Saint Andrews State Park I think. Anyhow, great hub, voted up, interesting and useful.

    • nicomp profile image

      nicomp really 

      6 years ago from Ohio, USA

      Cades Cove is awesome. Hang up food because the bears are mostly domesticated and happy to help themselves.

    • Esmeowl12 profile imageAUTHOR

      Cindy A Johnson 

      6 years ago from Sevierville, TN

      I appreciate it, hoteltravel. They are all beautiful in their own unique ways.

    • hoteltravel profile image

      hoteltravel 

      6 years ago from Thailand

      Beautiful photos and enticing suggestions. Hope one day I will get to visit these places. Voted up and awesome.

    • Esmeowl12 profile imageAUTHOR

      Cindy A Johnson 

      6 years ago from Sevierville, TN

      Thanks for stopping by, Jackie! I appreciate your comments! :)

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 

      6 years ago from The Beautiful South

      Wow this looks fun and it would be inexpensive and just much more relaxing. Thanks for a great hub on camping.

    • Esmeowl12 profile imageAUTHOR

      Cindy A Johnson 

      6 years ago from Sevierville, TN

      Thanks, sgbrown! There's nothing quite like camping. We love it!

    • sgbrown profile image

      Sheila Brown 

      6 years ago from Southern Oklahoma

      I love this hub! We puchased a used motorhome a couple of years ago and haven't done much traveling yet. I plan to fix that this year! All of the places in this hub look wonderful. Thank you so much for SHARING your information. Going to bookmark this one! Voted up and awesome! :)

    • Esmeowl12 profile imageAUTHOR

      Cindy A Johnson 

      6 years ago from Sevierville, TN

      Thanks, Paul. Come on down!

    • PaulStaley1 profile image

      PaulStaley1 

      6 years ago from With the wind---(or against it)

      Beautiful! I'm going to take my Toyota Winnebago south!

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