Harrison Bay State Park
Guide

Introduction

If you’re looking for a lush RV getaway destination with plenty of family-friendly activities, you need to visit Harrison Bay State Park. Located only 17 miles away from Chattanooga, Harrison Bay State Park was the first-ever park in the Tennessee system when it was designated way back in 1937. Named after the big bay at the main channel of the Tennessee River, Harrison Bay State Park holds a lot of historical significance since the last Cherokee Campground consisting of three villages was in this area.

In the present-day, you can come and enjoy a wide range of fun outdoor activities within the 1,200 acres of beautiful parkland. The summers provide a fun and exciting atmosphere that is guaranteed to make you smile, while the winters give off a sense of gentle peace and calm that everyone needs every now and then. Along with having great boating, swimming, hiking, and biking opportunities, the park is also home to the Bear Trace Golf Course, which is known as a fantastic course.

Interested in staying the night? The Harrison Bay State Park Campground is perfect for small and large RVs, and there are 127 sites to choose from. Each site also comes with electrical and water hookups, and you can also go tent camping or stay at the group site. Peak season at Harrison Bay State Park runs from April until October each year.

RV Rentals in Harrison Bay State Park

Transportation

Driving

Driving your RV to and from Harrison Bay State Park will be very easy, even if you are a beginner RV driver. The Tennessee 58 Highway will take you nearly directly to the park, and all you will have to do is exit at Harrison Bay Road. The roads in the area are kept in very good condition and are suitable for large rigs to navigate. As long as you take it slow and careful, you shouldn't run into any problems.

If you need to get any supplies before your trip there are plenty of places that you can stop on the way to the park, including Harrison (around 5.5 miles away), Tyner (around 10 miles away), and Clevland (around 17 miles away). The closest major city to the park is Chattanooga, which is only 17 miles to the southwest.

Parking

There are lots of parking options in this park, but when the park gets busier, you’re bound to have a harder time finding enough parking space for your RV, just like anywhere else. The busiest times are on holidays and on the weekends, so you might want to set up your RV at a campsite before venturing out.

Public Transportation

Campgrounds and parking in Harrison Bay State Park

Campsites in Harrison Bay State Park

Reservations camping

Chattanooga North / Cleveland KOA

Located around 20 minutes from Harrison Bay State Park, Chattanooga North / Cleveland KOA is another great RV-friendly camping option for visitors to the area who are wanting more amenities. Featuring a swimming pool, dog park, pavilion, cable TV, and Wi-Fi, Chattanooga North / Cleveland KOA is also suitable for big rigs that are up to 103 feet in length. You have a large choice of site types if you wish to stay here, including full hookup, water and electric, and electric only sites.

An advantage of staying at the Chattanooga North / Cleveland KOA is that you will only be 25 minutes from some fantastic attractions, such as Lookout Mountain, Ruby Falls, the Incline Railway, Rock City, and the Tennessee Aquarium. Chattanooga North/Cleveland KOA is open year-round, and reservations can be made in advance so you can guarantee that you will have a place to stay.

Harrison Bay State Park Campground

If you’re looking for a great spot to stay during your visit to Harrison Bay State Park, you can't beat the campground that is located within the park. Featuring four camping areas, the campground is perfect for most rigs.

Known for being a clean campground, all of the sites within the Harrison Bay State Park Campground come equipped with water and electric hookups, and there is also a dump station in a central location for your convenience. Most of the campsites will be level, and there are bathhouses in all four camping areas that have hot showers. Other campground amenities include a playground, Wi-Fi, and a camp store that is open during the peak season.

Reservations for Harrison Bay State Park Campground are highly recommended since it is a popular place to stay, and they can be made as little as a day in advance of your arrival or up to 12 months in advance.

First-come first-served

First Come, First Served Camping

Any RV or tent-only sites that have not been reserved prior to your arrival become available on a first-come, first-served basis. However, due to the popularity of the campground reservations are recommended, especially during the summer months. The group camp must be reserved if you wish to use it.

Alternate camping

Tent-Only Camping at Harrison Bay State Park

If you aren't traveling to Harrison Bay State Park with an RV, you can still call the park home for your trip thanks to the tent camping sites. Along with the 127 RV sites, there are also 27 tent-only sites in the D loop area. These sites are primitive with no electric, water, or sewer hookups, but since you are still staying within the main campground, you can use the water collection points and bathrooms. Each site also comes with a picnic table and a fire ring that is perfect for making smores. Reservations are available for use all year-round.

Group Camping at Harrison Bay State Park

Planning a getaway with a large group? If so, consider staying at the Harrison Bay State Park group camping area. You can leave your tents at home if you use the group camping area since it features 24 cabins equipped with three bunk beds.

A total of 144 people can use the group camp area and it also features a bathhouse and a fantastic dining hall with a fully equipped kitchen. You will also be in close proximity to picnic shelters, a playground, volleyball and basketball courts and a field perfect for kicking or throwing a ball around.

Pricing for the group camp area does change depending on what days of the week you would like to stay and reservations are a must. The group camp area is open all year round.

Seasonal activities in Harrison Bay State Park

In-Season

Fishing

If you love to go fishing remember to bring your rod and your reel in your motorhome to Harrison Bay State Park. There are plenty of great fishing opportunities to be had within Harrison Bay, including casting out a line from the pier, off of your own boat, or even just off the shoreline if you wish. Since the bay is quite large there are lots of good fishing spots, and so many species of fish that you may be able to land, including crappie, bass, bluegill, catfish, shell cracker, and gar.

Swimming

One of the best ways to relax on a hot summer day at Harrison Bay State Park is by going for a swim. The park contains an Olympic-sized swimming pool that is perfect for swimmings of all abilities thanks to its sliding depth level. The pool also contains a low dive area and a separate wading pool for the little ones to enjoy. Open only during the summer months, the pool should be a must-visit.

Boating

If you’d like to take the boat out on the lake at the park, there is a boat launch ramp located at the marina that is free to anyone who wishes to use it. Many people come here just for the boating opportunities, and it’s a great way to spend the summer out on the water. If you don't have your own watercraft, there are some available for rent from the park office so you won't have to worry about missing out on all of the fun.

Golfing

If you love to golf you will definitely have to pack your clubs prior to departing for your trip since the Harrison Bay State Park contains the fantastic Bear Trace Golf Course. This golf course was designed by Jack Nicklaus and features Bermuda fairways lined with hardwood and pine trees, along with open greens that make it easy for anyone to play. Playing a round of golf can be a great way to bond with family, and there are also club rentals and lessons available.

Off-Season

Picnicking

If you’re looking for a nice place to have a family get together, then look no further than the picnic area at Harrison Bay State Park. There are several picnic pavilions that you can rent that can hold anywhere between 30 and 75 people. Located near the activities area that features a playground, horseshoe pit, and swimming pool, the picnic areas are perfect for cooking up a storm. Since the picnic shelters are popular it is recommended that you book one in advance of your trip.

Birding

Birding can be a relaxing activity to do in the park and a great way to see some of the nature that is in the surrounding area. There are many shorebirds, winter waterfowl, osprey, and eagles that call this area their home so there will be plenty of birds for you to spot. If you want to see something really interesting, you can check out a bald eagle nest on the golf course that is used for the Eagle Cam for all of Tennessee’s state parks. How cool!

Biking

Considering going for a ride? The Bay Point Loop Trail is a popular place for bikers and the most common place to go riding within the park. Since this is a multi-use trail, if you are visiting in the off-season there won't be as many hikers out on it so you can expect a quieter ride. There are no bike rentals available at the park so you will have to bring your own if you want to get out on two wheels.

Hiking

If you want to do some exploring during your visit to Harrison Bay State Park, you will be pleased to know that there are three loops available for hiking. The Fitness Loop is only half-mile long, so it is perfect for those that want to do something short and easy. This trail is gravel, but if you want more natural ground to walk on, you can take Lakeshore Loop. This trail is one-mile long and is considered to be a moderate hike. Bay Point Loop is also a moderate hike but is much longer at 4.5 miles.

Find the perfect campsite.