Located on the western bank of Kentucky lake, Nathan Bedford Forrest State Park is a wonderful place for RV campers to explore and get away from it all. The area in which the park is found has been occupied on a semi-permanent basis for at least 7000 years, with an Archaic period (8000-1000 BC) site being found near the park's southern boundary in the 1940s. The park was also home to the Battle of Johnsonville in the U.S Civil War. The park takes its name from a Confederate Army General, Nathan Bedford Forrest, who played a vital role in the battle. In December 1929, the park was established from land that had been donated by a local family. During the Great Depression era the Civilian Conservation Corps and Works Progress Administration built the park's roads, trails, and other amenities. The name of the park has caused controversy in recent years as Nathan Bedford Forrest was also the first Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan.
The park has a multitude of recreational and educational options available for visitors throughout the year. During the summertime most of the recreational options are based on activities around Lake Kentucky, with swimming, boating and fishing being the most popular. Tennessee River Folklife Museum is also located at the park and will give you a blast from the past about the life and customs of people living along the lower Tennessee River in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Nathan Bedford Forrest State Park has one campground that is suitable for RV use, along with a primitive camp ground and back country campground for hikers. There are 37 RV friendly sites in total that have electrical hookups. The park is open year round and peak season runs through the summer.
RV Rentals in Nathan Bedford Forrest State Park
Transportation in Nathan Bedford Forrest State Park
Nathan Bedford Forrest State Park is located in the north west of Tennessee and is around 100 miles from Nashville and 150 miles from Memphis. The park has a few different access roads but the main road runs through the town of Camden. Eva is the closest small town to the park, but Camden is the closest town that has facilities and is located around eight miles from the park.
The road that approaches the park is fairly easy to navigate, but as you get closer it will get a little more difficult. The roads are very narrow, heavily forested with overhanging trees and they have no shoulders. If you are traveling in a bigger rig you may find the driving to be hard. Any RV's over 35 feet may struggle to get to the park.
A nice thing about Nathan Bedford Forrest State Park is that you can access it all year round. Snowfall does happen but the amount is usually minor so it won't stop you from making it to the park. If you are planning to visit in winter and are worried about snow make sure you check the weather forecast before you begin your trip.
Although the park can get busy during the summer there should be parking available at the park office.
There are no public transport options that provide access to Nathan Bedford Forrest State Park.
Campgrounds and parking in Nathan Bedford Forrest State Park
Campsites in Nathan Bedford Forrest State Park
Buffalo / I-40 / Exit 143 KOA
Near the quiet, picturesque Tennessee town of Hurricane Mills, TN, the Buffalo/I-40/Exit 143 KOA makes an ideal base camp for exploring the country music capital of Nashville, just an hour’s drive east, or taking in the scenery of the rugged Tennessee countryside. Just off I-40, the Buffalo/I-40/Exit 143 KOA is a convenient, comfortable campground, with shaded pull-through sites, a fenced pet area, laundry facilities and a seasonal pool to enjoy. Sites offer 50-amp hookups, and there is both firewood and propane available on-site for purchase. Shopping and dining options are plentiful nearby.
Happy Hollow Campground
Happy Hollow campground is the only camping area at Nathan Bedford Forrest State Park that is suitable for RV camping. In total the campground has 37 paved sites. All of the sites have some great features and amenities. Most have the option of 20, 30 and 50 amp connections, but there are a few that only offer 20 and 30. Each site has its own picnic area that includes a table and a grill. Other amenities around the campground include a playground, central bathhouse with hot showers and a dump station. Happy Hollow Campground doesn't have views to the lake since its around one mile away from it.
Phone reception should be available on most of the major cell providers in all areas of the campground. Make sure you stock up on supplies before getting to the campground since there will be limited concessions available at the park. Reservations can be made up to a year in advance and the campground is open all year round.
Seasonal activities in Nathan Bedford Forrest State Park
Kentucky Lake also provides a great spot to get out on the water and do some boating. The most popular boating activities in the park are paddleboarding and kayaking. Since the lake is so large you will have hours of entertainment if you want to go out and explore. If you don't have any boating equipment you can rent kayaks and paddleboards near the park at Eva beach from a private company. Their kayaks are perfect for two passengers of up to 400 pounds. Standup paddleboards can support one rider up to 225 pounds.
Fishing in Kentucky Lake and the surrounding creek mouths and embankments can be really awesome. The best way to fish is via boat, but you can also be successful from the banks. Common species found in Nathan Bedford Forrest State Park include crappie, bluegill, redear, bass and catfish. If you want to cast a line in the park you will need a Tennessee fishing license. They can be purchased from county clerks, hardware stores, sporting book stores and online.
The summers can get very hot at Nathan Bedford Forrest State Park so going for a swim can be a welcome relief. There is a lovely sandy beach in the park that is located on the banks of Kentucky Lake. It is free to access and is open all throughout the summertime. The beach is unsupervised by lifeguards at all times, so make sure you are confident in your swimming abilities before going for a dip.
Hiking is a recreational option that you can do throughout the year at Nathan Bedford Forrest State Park. There are three smaller trails located within the park along with a loop trail. The loop trail is the most popular choice by hikers and it has five different sized loops. The smaller trails are more inclined to be suited for those looking to do some easy and moderate hiking, but the 20 mile trail is more difficult. Make sure to check in at the park office if you plan on going for a hike so they know your rough whereabouts and plans for the day.
The wide, open and expansive waters of Kentucky Lake are a great backdrop for bird watchers who visit the park. This habitat is perfect to view migrating and wintering waterfowl, along with other birds such as herons, egrets, eagles and several gull species. You can also do some bird watching from the trails in the park. Here you can expect to see resident and migrant songbirds as well as some hawks in the more open areas and owls in the forested parts throughout the park.
Nathan Bedford Forrest State Park will be a great choice for disc golf fans as there is a nine-hole disc golf course that encircles the perimeter of the ball field. The course has wide, level fairways and shade is provided by surrounding trees. The course is designed for beginner disc golf players, but there are some challenges in the form of trees and nearby Happy Hollow Creek for more experienced golfers. If you don't have your own set of discs you can rent some from the park office.