Obed Wild and Scenic River
Guide

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Introduction

Stretching along the Cumberland Plateau in Tennessee, Obed Wild and Scenic River offers unspoiled rugged landscapes, spectacular waters, and exciting outdoor pursuits for vacationers. This river park, which was first inhabited by the first white settlers in the late 18th century, has long attracted visitors from different parts of the world. Initially a fishing and hunting area, the park has grown to become much more, offering plenty of recreational opportunities for everyone.

At Obed Wild and Scenic River you can have your pick of the activities that excite you. Whether its bird watching at Lilly Bluff Overlook or at Nemo, or hiking on the park’s trails to scenic spots, you’ll find that fun is the watchword at the park. The rocks and cliffs present unique bouldering and rock climbing opportunities for climbers of all skill levels. The park’s streams invite expert paddlers for whitewater paddling exercises. The park’s terrain and distribution of flora and fauna also adds to its beauty. If you enjoy fishing, then you should look out for catfish, bass species, bluegill, and muskie. Picnic opportunities are available at Nemo Picnic Area in the park.

Camping at Obed Wild and Scenic River is offered at Rock Creek Campground which has 11 primitive campsites.

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Transportation in Obed Wild and Scenic River

Driving

Driving to the visitor center at Obed Wild and Scenic River located in downtown Wartburg, off Highway 27 is easy. Within the park, vanpooling and carpooling is encouraged. As you drive up to the park, note that many of the roads are steep, winding and narrow, so you should use caution and drive at a safe speed. The use of All Terrain Vehicles (ATVs) is prohibited on all the paved roads as well as in the campground.

Parking

Parking spaces are available for vehicles at the Obed Wild and Scenic River. Parking is only allowed in designated lots and pads.

Public Transport

There are no direct public transportation services to Obed Wild and Scenic River.

Campgrounds and parking in Obed Wild and Scenic River

Campsites in Obed Wild and Scenic River

Reservations camping

Rock Creek Campground

Situated close to the Nemo area of Obed Wild and Scenic River, Rock Creek Campground features 11 pet-friendly campsites that can accommodate RVs and trailers up to 25 feet. There are no RV amenities or hookups in the campground, however the campsites have picnic tables, fire rings with grills, food storage lockers, and lantern hooks. Vault toilets and paved parking are also available. All campers are required to bring their own water.

Campsite reservations are accepted at the campground. Quiet hours are from 10pm to 6am.

First-come first-served

Alternate camping

Seasonal activities in Obed Wild and Scenic River

Spring

Flora and Fauna

Obed Wild and Scenic River features a wide variety of animals and plants that make the park home, year-round. You’ll find that it is easy to spot most of the animals in the park. Some others? Not so much. Wildlife in the park includes whitetail deer, raccoons, grey fox, wild boar, and bobcat.

As far as the park’s colorful flora is concerned, there are roughly 800 different plant species within the park, ranging from trees and shrubs to woody vines, wildflowers, and wetland plants.

Summer

Rock Climbing

The pronounced rock expanses and cliffs at Obed Wild and Scenic River are a major attraction for rock climbers from all parts of the world because the cliffs in here are particularly steep and overhanging. Sport routes abound in the park and vary from easier ones, which may still be quite challenging for the average non-climber, to more difficult ones that only a handful of rock climbers try out.

Traditional rock-climbing opportunities are also available in the park for visitors and campers who are not experienced in more technical rock-climbing methods. Watch out for rockfalls, stinging insects, poisonous snakes, and weather-related hazards like lightning.

Bouldering

Bouldering, a form of climbing that involves taking short routes close to the ground, is a popular activity at Obed Wild and Scenic River. This park has a Boulder Field that features 164 boulder problems for visitors and campers to solve. You do this by scaling 24 boulders that range in height from 8 feet to more than 20 feet so there are some that are an appropriate challenge for beginners as well as the more experienced.

Because of the nature of the activity, no ropes are required. In its place, a strong grip, dexterity, and nimbleness are key requirements.

Fall

Paddling

Obed Wild and Scenic River is well-known for its spectacular whitewater streams that attract paddlers to the park. The activity requires considerable whitewater paddling experience because navigating the park’s streams is no job for the amateur.

There are potentially lethal hazards along the park’s streams, ranging from undercut rocks, to piled rocks, fallen trees, and strainers. These and other safety hazards mean that only seasoned paddlers should venture on to the streams for whitewater kayaking or rafting.

Bird Watching

Obed Wild and Scenic River is a great destination for bird watching, thanks to the numerous species that fly over the park every year. Whenever you visit the park, you’re guaranteed to see small birds like sparrows, robins, cardinals, and black-capped chickadees. In addition, you’ll see larger birds like barred owls, turkey vultures, and red-shouldered hawks. You may even spot a bald eagle too.

To enhance your viewing experience at the park, you should definitely bring your binoculars. The two best places to watch the birds in the park are the Lilly Bluff Overlook, just off of Ridge Road past Clear Creek, and at Nemo.

Winter

Hiking

Every season offers a unique experience to all hiking enthusiasts at Obed Wild and Scenic River. Whether your desire is a short, easy hike on foot, or a more challenging walk through the park, rest assured you’ll have enough opportunities here.

The hike along Emory River Nature Trail and Lilly Bluff Overlook are more suitable to campers and visitors who want stress-free strolls in the park. For those that want a longer hike, Point Trail and Cumberland Trail are more appropriate.

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