The Happiest Camping

Want to make eco-friendliness part of your camping experience? Now you can, by choosing one of the 46 Tennessee Valley Camp-Right Campgrounds.

It’s all sunshine and blue skies at Goosepond Colony Campground in Scottsboro, Alabama. The fish are running hot on adjacent Lake Guntersville, so everyone is eager to get on the lake. Manager Selena Holloway is busy charging $2 a shot for boat launches to the earliest of worms. Meanwhile, most campers are rising and shining, hitting the bathhouse to shower and shave and get their day started. With all that H2O flowing, you’d hardly guess—they’re actually conserving water and energy.

Goosepond Colony is a Tennessee Valley Camp-Right Campground, Holloway explains, which means it goes the extra mile to ensure that everything is energy efficient, green and clean. “When we joined the program, we learned a lot about how we could be more energy efficient,” says Holloway. “We ended up building a new bath house and made sure that everything in it was energy efficient—the lighting, the heat, the showerheads and the hot water heater.”

The net result? “It saves us money every month, and that means we don’t have to raise camping rates,” Holloway says.

Best-in-Class Camping

The Tennessee Valley Camp-Right Campgrounds program was created to recognize best-in-class campgrounds throughout the region, says Aurora Pulliam, recreation representative for TVA Natural Resources. “The program highlights campgrounds that adhere to principles we consider green and eco-friendly, and that also focus on enhancing the camper’s experience.”

Tennessee Valley Camp-Right Campgrounds requires that campgrounds adhere to at least nine of the following 17 criteria:

  • Uses motion sensors for lighting
  • Switched over to energy efficient lighting
  • Uses non-toxic biodegradable cleaning products
  • Uses water-saving showerheads and/or automatic turn off taps
  • Provides recycle bins
  • Uses energy saving products or appliances (such as laundry facilities)
  • Provides resource conservation education (such as the Leave No Trace program)
  • Uses landscaping consisting of wood chip, pebble or grass paths (pervious and not hardened)
  • Reduces water usage; uses signage where possible
  • Has one or more of the following: efficient lighting, heaters and/or coolers with timers
  • Uses solar or wind power
  • Uses low flush toilets or waterless urinals
  • Offers on-site organic composting
  • Uses email confirmation or online reservation system rather than paper
  • Uses geothermal heating/cooling
  • Plants new trees frequently
  • Keeps campsites clutter free—maintains the appearance of being good stewards

The Tennessee Valley Camp-Right Campgrounds program is a natural extension of its Tennessee Valley Clean Marina Program, which encourages similar eco-friendly practices on the water. (And in some situations, where campgrounds are nestled alongside clean marinas, you can get a twofer—which is exactly the case at Goosepond Colony.)

Natural Selections

In addition to the energy efficiency, the Tennessee Valley Camp-Right Campgrounds program also emphasizes keeping nature—well, natural. Through its e-newsletter, the program educates campground managers about how to nurture native wildlife, including subjects such as choosing birdhouses for wood ducks, nut hatches and bluebirds; allowing room for wildflower growth; and planting native trees. “We noticed that we were losing trees from disease or from lightning strikes, and would like to help replace them, ” Pulliam explains. “So this year for Earth Day, we are going to enable each campground manager to plant a bundle of native trees.”

TVA also provides campgrounds with posters and other signage—about water conservation, energy efficiency, wildlife and safety—designed to help communicate the TVA Camp-Right Campgrounds mission and educate campers about smart strategies they can employ at home.

Those are just two small examples of how TVA works to support Tennessee Valley Camp-Right Campgrounds. The relationship is related to TVA's overall mission of service—and the idea is that every step toward improving the eco-friendliness of the camping experience can have lasting impacts on generations of Valley campers.

“Recreation and tourism is part of our stewardship of the Tennessee Valley, and we want to make it as green as possible,” Pulliam explains. “The work we do with the campgrounds allows us to interface with families who live in our region, and by letting them have a simple camping experience with a lighter footprint we can improve everyone's quality of life."

There are now 46 Tennessee Valley Camp-Right Campgrounds, and they can be found in nearly every corner of the Valley. Make your reservation today to get out and go green.

Summer has come and gone, but you can always have a great time on the Tennessee Valley's lands and waters! Not sure where to start? We have you covered! Check out some of the best recreation activities on our reservoirs. While you’re enjoying the lakes, trails, picnic areas and campgrounds, share your adventures using #TVAfun on social media.