Big Ridge State Park is situated in the Appalachian Ridge and Valley in Union County, Tenessee. The park's 3,687 acres bank the shores of Norris Lake and are heavily forested, providing a stunning scenic getaway. It was one of the five parks developed as a sample of what public recreation along the Tennessee Valley lakeshores could look like. This development was headed by the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) with the help of the Civilian Conservation Corps and the National Park Service, which is clearly seen in the design and workmanship of the structures in the park.
Thanks to its heavily forested acres and close proximity to Noris Lake, the park has plenty of both land and water-based activities to choose from. These are suitable for the whole family and include fishing, hiking, boating, birding, and exploring the remains of homes and farms before the TVA came to be.
The park has 50 RV and tent sites with electric and water hookups, three hike-in backcountry campsites, or if you would prefer to stay in something a bit more luxurious, 20 cabins. Big Ridge State Park has everything you need for your next RV road trip!
While you are in the area, make sure to stop by Chuck Swan State Forest where you can enjoy outdoor activities like mountain biking, fishing, and caving. If you are solely looking for water-based activities, visit Norris Dam State Park, where you can have fun boating, fishing, and water skiing along the reservoir.
Big Ridge State Park is just off the Highway-33, and you will easily be able to find it. The closest city is Rocky Top, which is less than 20 miles away from the park. Should you need any supplies, odds and ends, or a meal, you can find it there. Because you are driving along the Highway-33, you won't have any problems with height restrictions or obstacles along the drive, and you'll have ample space for even the biggest of rigs.
Once off the highway, the roads leading towards the park are quite winding in some sections, so make sure to take that into account when you drive. The drive is very scenic, and you'll be able to enjoy trees in full bloom during the summer and spring, and bare trees during the autumn and spring.
Once inside the park, the roads remain paved, but slow down and adhere to the speed limit inside the park while keeping an eye out for pedestrians. It's best to go ahead and park your rig at your site if you are staying for a couple of nights, or the parking area if you are just swinging past for the day. Once you've parked, go ahead and explore the rest of the park by foot or bike, if you brought one along.
You will find suitable parking near the Visitor Center and the Park Office.
When you bring your RV to Big Ridge State Park you can enjoy the 50 RV and tent sites they have to offer. These sites are equipped with water and electrical hookups, as well as a paved parking pad, a grill and, a picnic table. Most sites can fit a rig up to 50 feet long, however, a few ADA-accessible sites can fit longer RVs, including one that can accommodate a 90-foot RV. Big Ridge State Park is a pet-friendly park, and you are welcome to bring along your pets on your RV road trip, as long as they remain on a leash at all times.
If you need to use a dump station during your stay, you'll find one nearby for you to use. You can find communal restrooms with flush toilets and hot showers within the campgrounds. Two of these restrooms are closed during the off-season, but one will always be open for campers who visit during the less crowded months.
The park has a laundromat for campers to use during their stay. You can also enjoy a volleyball net, basketball court, tennis court, and a sports field all closely located to the campgrounds. The park has a seasonal camp store available, and if you need firewood you can purchase it at the park all year round.
If you are keen, you can try out backcountry camping here at the park. There are three different sites to choose from, and you will need to hike along one of the trails to reach them. Two of the site can accommodate 10 people, while the other harder-to-reach site can sleep a maximum of five people. You must hike to your site while it is still light, so make sure to factor that into your arrival time.
Make sure to pack everything you need including food and water because nothing is provided except a rock fire ring. You will need to be very careful when you make fires, and remember to carry out all your litter with you when you leave. You can also bring your furry friends along on your backcountry camping trip.
If you want to get out of the RV for a night, you can stay in one of the park's 20 cabins. Eighteen of them can accommodate six people, and the other two can accommodate up to four people. The cabins are available from the beginning of April to the beginning of October and need to be reserved in advance. The cabins were originally built by the Civilian Conservation Corps and are still in the same condition and style as when they were first built.
Each cabin has two double beds and a sofa sleeper. They are all equipped with cookware, linen, air conditioning, electrical heating, and bathrooms with showers. Each cabin has a fireplace, and firewood is also provided seasonally. If you would like to bring your pets along on your getaway, you can. Pets are allowed in specific pet-friendly cabins, and you will need to pay an additional nightly fee.
You are welcome to bring along your non-gas powered boat with you on your RV trip to Big Ridge State Park. You can choose between launching your boat on Big Ridge inside the park for a small fee or launching it on Lake Norris, which you can do using the boat ramp just outside the park's entrance. Lake Norris allows gas-powered boats, and if you have a wave runner or ski boat you can bring it along as well. During the winter months, visitors will be unable to launch on Lake Norris using the boat ramp because of the low lake level.
If you don't have your own boat, you can hire a rowboat from the park, which you can attach to your own electric trolling motor, if you have one. The park also has a boat dock that is open from Memorial Day to Labor Day.
If you enjoy kayaking or canoeing or just being out on the water, make sure to bring along your boat when you visit the park. Big Ridge Lake is the perfect place for you to enjoy paddling along in the water. No gas-powered boats are allowed on the lake, so it is very peaceful and perfect for paddling.
If you haven't got your own boat or decided not to bring it along, you can always rent one from the park during the summer months. You don't need to just stick with renting a kayak or canoe; the park also has paddleboards and SUPs that you can rent.
During the warmer months, rangers at the park offer weekly outdoor activities for you and the family to enjoy. These include nature programs where you'll learn more about the outdoors, guided hikes through the park, coordinated sports events, movies, and arts and crafts. The rangers are very knowledgeable and enjoy sharing what they know. These organized events are a brilliant way for you and your family to learn new skills and enjoy being out in nature.
Fishermen will love visiting the park! You can fish at the Big Ridge Lake all year round and try your hand at catching at a variety of fish including crappie, bluegill, smallmouth bass, and largemouth bass. There are 49 acres for you to enjoy, and you can fish from the banks, from your campsite, or from a boat. You can fish throughout the park, except along the stretch of the swimming beach.
You can also try wade fishing in the nearby Clinch River, which is minutes away from the park. Here, you'll have a chance to snag brook, brown, and rainbow trout. So make sure to bring along your fishing rods when you visit the park in your motorhome.
Birding is another popular pastime here at the park. RVers who are avid birders or are interested in birding should make a mental note to bring along their binoculars and cameras when they visit the park. The park features over 110 different species of birds, which can best be seen during the autumn months. One of the best places to spot birds is along the trails, especially during the fall and spring. You might also be able to see common loons, which visit in the winter months and like to hang out at Norris Lake.
With over 15 miles of hiking trails available, there is no excuse not to get out and explore the outdoors. The trails vary in length from 0.2 miles to 2.6 miles and range from easy to challenging. They are all quite short, so you should be able to do them all during your stay at the park. You'll experience a variety of different terrains when you hike along these trails and be spoiled with stunning views.
While you are not permitted to cycle along the trails, you can cycle along all the paved roads in the park, and there are a variety of country roads nearby for you to enjoy some mountain biking.