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Backcountry Camping has a new name at Land Between the Lakes

Backcountry Camping has a new name at Land Between the Lakes

Dear Campers,

You may have noticed a recent name change of your favorite Backcountry Campground on our maps. Here is the reason…

In 2000 when the US Forest Service assumed management of Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area, the decision was made to keep the backcountry permit system for the smaller campgrounds created by the Tennessee Valley Authority. These campgrounds are small and have less amenities than the large, developed campgrounds such as Hillman Ferry, Piney and Wranglers.

sugar bay basic campground
Sugar Bay Campground-Basic Camping Permit required. Purchase online or at any Land Between the Lakes facility

Since Land Between the Lakes is now part of the National Forest System, the camping areas referred to as “backcountry areas” have become confusing to visitors who also visit other National Forest Areas.

In a typical National Forest, backcountry camping refers to remote areas with no amenities such as picnic tables, fire rings, or toilets. Many backcountry areas in the National Forest System are hike-in areas located in wilderness or along wild and scenic rivers.

Are you still with me? Ok, good…

Designated backcountry camping areas will now be referred to as basic campgrounds or basic camping areas. These areas have several amenities you would not find in a backcountry camping area within the rest of the National Forest System.

Redd Hollow Basic Campground
Redd Hollow Campground

Basic Campground amenities include defined campsites, fire rings and/or grills, picnic tables, vault toilet, trash removal, mowed areas, and a boat ramp.

  • Nickell Branch
  • Twin Lakes
  • Birmingham Ferry
  • Smith Bay
  • Sugar Bay
  • Taylor Bay | Seasonal camping available | 270.924.2044
  • Redd Hollow
  • Boswell Landing

A Basic Camping Area is an open field area without defined campsites. Amenities may include a vault toilet, trash removal, mowed areas, and a boat ramp. However, they may or may not have picnic tables and fire rings and/or grills. You may camp anywhere within the camping area with a Basic Camping Permit.

  • Kuttawa Landing
  • Demumbers Bay
  • Ginger Bay
  • Neville Bay
  • Gray’s Landing
Demumbers Basic Camping Area
Demumbers Camping Area

And yes, you can still camp in areas off of legal Forest Service roads with the same permit. This is called dispersed camping.

Dispersed Camping includes remote campsites throughout the recreation area. Areas at the end of forest roads, along the lake shore, often make wonderful campsites. Camping in any non-designated campground on our map is considered dispersed camping. Read Camping Rules to learn where you can camp.

Basic and Dispersed Camping Permits both currently cost $30 per person for an annual permit and $7 per person for a three day permit. They can be purchased online or at any of our facilities.

Your favorite camping spot remains the same. Only the name has changed to be more in line with other National Forest units. We invite you to purchase your basic camping permit and come outside and play!

We hope this explanation will help you better plan your next camping trip with us. If you have any questions, reference the Camping page on our website at or feel free to contact us at 800.525.7077 or [email protected].

Happy camping,

Gary Hawkins
Recreation Specialist
Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area

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