Be a Cool Camper

Fall is prime time for cool, cozy, colorful camping. Here are nine ways you can have fun in the outdoors while making your stay a sustainable one.

Cool weather is made for camping—picture snuggling around the campfire in your boots and flannels, roasting marshmallows for s‘mores, telling ghost stories just in time for Halloween. With October ushering in autumn color season in the Tennessee Valley, nature even sets the perfect background.

While you’re enjoying the cool weather camping, consider being a cool camper and observing some sustainability practices designed to help you tread lightly on nature.

“We appreciate those campers that leave their campsite and the campground clean and intact, the way it was when they arrived,” says Kim Klinker, manager of Hornsby Hollow, a Tennessee Valley Camp-Right Campground on Watts Bar Reservoir. “Things that we routinely find and things we fix when campers leave are: rocks pulled off of the shoreline that were installed for erosion control, rope strung up and tied tightly to trees for make-shift laundry lines, trash left in fire pits and trash bags stacked on top of the dumpster that allow birds and animals to access their contents.”

Klinker reminds campers to stay “continually mindful of controlling these issues to ensure we are being good stewards of our campgrounds.”

For more ways to be a considerate camper, consider this list, brought to you by Tennessee Valley Camp-Right Campgrounds. That program certifies campgrounds that observe sustainable practices— check out the official list—but you can take these simple observances with you wherever you go and help conserve the Valley’s beautiful bounty:

  • Burn wood from local sources and avoid moving firewood across county lines to help prevent the spread of invasive insects.
  • Use only existing fire rings and don’t burn trash or food.
  • Dispose of trash in secure containers or practice pack-it-in, pack-it-out in primitive camping areas. Recycle or reuse as much material as possible.
  • Never approach, feed or follow wildlife.
  • Leave plants, rocks and historical items where you found them.
  • Tread lightly—use existing trails where possible, and only ride bikes in designated areas.
  • Conserve electricity and water a both individual campsites and shared campground facilities by turning off fixtures and appliances when not in use.
  • If you’re camping in an RV, install energy efficient light bulbs, check door and window weather stripping and replace leaky hoses or connections.
  • If you boated in, check watercrafts, props, live wells and trailers for invasive species prior to moving to new lakes or rivers.

For more information about TVA campgrounds, visit our Camping page, or call the Public Lands Information Center at (800) 882-5263.


It’s always a good time for fun on the Tennessee Valley’s lands and waters. Not sure where to start? We have you covered! Check out some of the best recreational activities on our reservoirs. While you’re enjoying the lakes, trails, picnic areas and campgrounds, share your own stories and photos on Instagram using #TVAfun.

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