On the Cumberland Plateau of Standing Stone State Forest in northeastern Tennessee, you can find the peace and tranquility of Standing Stone State Park with almost 11,000 acres to explore. The unique name comes from the large rock that was located nearby, which was 12 feet high and stood on a ledge made of sandstone. According to legend, the stone was the boundary line between two Native American nations and when the rock was destroyed, they put a piece of it in a monument. This stone is still preserved in the town of Monterey 30 miles to the south.
The 69-acre Kelly Lake (also known as Standing Stone Lake) is popular for fishing with the most prominent species being black bass, catfish, trout, and bluegill. Boating is also a fun activity for visitors to the park and you can even rent boats here. If you want to swim, the park also has a pool open seasonally or you can swim with the fishes on Kelly Lake, Mill Creek, or Morgan Creek. On land, you can explore over eight miles of trails, enjoy a picnic at one of the pavilions, or even visit the marble yards.
The National Rolley Hole Marble Championship and Festival is held every September at the park and has been televised on ESPN, CNN, and other major stations. It was even mentioned in a Peanuts comic strip. The marble contest includes food, games, music, marble making, and much more. If you want to visit during the festival, you will have to reserve your spot as soon as possible because this is an international tournament packed with people from all over the world.
Since Standing Stone State Park is just off TN-52 and TN-136, you should not have any trouble finding it. The closest interstates are I-65 to the north and west, I-75 to the east, and I-40 to the south. The nearest town is Hilham, which is just three miles to the south. Nashville is only about 100 miles to the west and, as the state’s capital, it is an excellent side trip. You can visit the Grand Ole Opry House, the Country Music Hall of Fame, and the Johnny Cash Museum.
The roads leading into the area are mostly highway and easy to maneuver. However, any rig over 30 feet has to use the TN-52 entrance because there is a bridge in the park that cannot handle RVs over 30 feet. To get to the campground, you will need to come down TN-136 from TN-52 to the north. The bridge over Kelly Lake on TN-136 from the south is only for rigs under 30 feet.
Other than that, the park does not have any restrictions for RVs or trailers, but the campsites can only accommodate RVs up to 45 feet in length. There are only 36 campsites, so make sure you book your spot well in advance. All sites have water and 20-, 30-, 50-amp electric hookups available and the maximum stay is 14 days.
Nestled in the tall pines of the Standing Stone State Forest, the campground at Standing Stone State Park has 36 campsites that can accommodate motorhomes and trailers up to 45 feet long. Two comfort stations are located in the center of the campground, which has modern restrooms and hot showers. A picnic table that seats six is available at each site for your enjoyment. Cooking is easy on the pedestal barbecue provided or you can use the campfire ring or your own grill. You can also cook indoors since each of the sites has water and 20, 30, 50-amp electric hookups.
Your four-legged family members are welcome too, as long as you keep them leashed or restrained and supervise them at all times during your visit. Being in the northern section of the park off TN-136, the camp is close to all the fun including the lake, recreation centers, marble yards, pool, and several trails. You will also be within walking distance of several picnic areas, the Visitor Center, and the historic tearoom. Reservations are required and can be made up to a year in advance.
For a large group or party, check out the Standing Stone Overton Lodge, which has its own section of the park at the southeastern tip of the lake off of Beach Road. The building is huge to accommodate up to 50 people, but the inside is cozy and quaint like a postcard for a vacation resort. Two bedrooms with 24 bunk beds each as well as four restrooms and two shower rooms give you all the space and facilities for everyone to use. The living area has a large wood-burning fireplace, built-in seating, as well as tables and chairs to seat about 50 people.
There is a commercial kitchen with all stainless-steel appliances including two ovens, two refrigerators and freezers, and all the pots, pans, and utensils you need to feed the whole gang. Outside you can find a double grill charcoal pit, several picnic tables and benches, a fire ring, and your own section of the lake. Dogs are welcome but must be controlled and restrained when outside. Reservations can be made up to 24 months in advance.
If your family or group is too big for a cabin, try one of the three group cabins. Group cabin 1 can sleep up to 16 guests with six bunk beds and five double beds. Group cabin 2 can also accommodate up to 16 people with eight double beds. Group cabin 3 can handle up to 12 people with six double beds. All of the cabins allow pets so bring your furbabies along for the fun. You can stay toasty warm even in the winter here with the gas fireplace in the cozy living room. Curl up on one of the plush couches or lounge chairs or relax at the dining room table that seats eight.
Two bathrooms with two toilets and two showers each will help speed up the process of getting ready for the day. The full kitchen has all appliances including two refrigerators and all the pots and utensils you need. You’ll find a deck outside with seating and a BBQ pit for cooking up some steaks for dinner. The boat dock is nearby so you can enjoy a day on the water or take one of the hiking trails to the nearby swimming pool.
If you are thinking that a night or two indoors is on your agenda on your RV getaway to Standing Stone State Park, there are 21 different cabins you can choose from. Park the rig in the lot and head for one of these cozy retreats with your crew, including your pooch because 16 of the 21 cabins allow pets for a small fee. There are seven deluxe cabins that sleep up to 10 people. Each of these has three bedrooms, a full bath, central air and heat, a full kitchen, and satellite TV. Beds, bedding, and towels are provided.
The 14 rustic cabins vary in size to sleep from four to eight guests. Although they have various layouts, all of them have central air, four beds (either twin bunks or queens), a full bathroom, and a fireplace. These cabins do not have televisions. Several have central heat and are open all year, but the others are only open from April until October. You can set your reservations up to a year in advance so, book it early.
Pack your comfy hiking shoes in the RV before heading for the park so you can enjoy the hiking trails. The main trail is the 4.6-mile Lake Trail. It begins at the suspension bridge below the dam where you will cross Mill Creek and then climb some stairs to the right. Turn left onto the old road and continue following the trail up the hill to the Moses Fisk House. You’ll pass over the Beach Road, where you continue to follow the trail down a set of wood stairs. Follow the trail markers over more bridges, and you can take one of the spur trails or head back to the dam.
Whether you call it Kelly Lake or Standing Stone Lake, the 69-acre lake has plenty of hungry fish just waiting for visitors to cast a line out. One of the most popular fish in the park is trout, which is stocked annually in the winter. These are best caught fly fishing with pink or yellow flies. Live bait and bobbers are great for catching bass as well as flies and other lures. Catfish get humongous here so bring a net and toss in a line with live bait and a sinker on it. Then just sit back and wait. Be sure to get a Tennessee fishing license first.
Grab the hot dogs, burgers, and buns and head to the park with the family for a picnic. There are picnic tables all over the park, each with their own barbecue grills for you to use. Be sure you have your basics like charcoal, BBQ tools, and eating utensils. You can also reserve a picnic shelter at the park if you have a large family or group. The pavilions can accommodate from 24 to 90 guests, depending on which one you choose. The most popular being Pavilion 5, which is right next to the dam, seats 90, and has a playground, volleyball, horseshoe pits, and a recreational field.
Whether you play or collect marbles or just enjoy festivals, the National Rolley Hole Marble Festival is a fun place to be. The festival is held in September, but the date varies, so check with the park for specifics. Watch grown men and women get down on their hands and knees to shoot marbles in a serious competition. You will also get to enjoy delicious food, live music, marble making, a swap meet, games, and tons of other activities for all ages. Be sure to book a site well in advance because this is a nationally televised event and people come from all over Tennessee and all over the world.
You can bring your kayak or canoe to Standing Stone State Park to enjoy the lake all year long. If you don’t have a boat, you can rent one from the park. They have pedal boats, kayaks, canoes, and aluminum fishing boats. You can only use electric trolling motors on the fishing boats, which the park does not supply so you have to bring your own. Or just grab a paddle and paddleboard and get out on the peaceful waters of Kelly Lake.
Be sure to pack your sunscreen and bathing suits in the motorhome before heading to Standing Stone State Park. The park boasts an Olympic-sized swimming pool open from Memorial Day weekend until Labor Day for its visitors to enjoy. Equipped with lifeguards, a snack bar, and bathhouses, all you need to bring is your towels. If the pool is closed, swim in Kelly Lake or take a dip in one of the creeks that flow through the park.