Rock Island State Park Trip Report

When: September 3-6, 2021

Location: Rock Island, TN

Campground: Rock Island State Park

Sites: 28 and 30

Weather Conditions: Partly Cloudy. Lows in the 60s, highs in the 80s. 

Duration: Three nights

Amenities: Water/Electric, Dumping Station, Showers, Playground, Hiking Trails, Beach/Swimming Area

Kid Friendly: Yes

For Cella the Airstream’s first trip, the Kennedys booked Rock Island State Park for Labor Day weekend in 2021. The week prior, the Kennedys mentioned the trip to the Elmore crew who quickly searched to see if there was availability. Serendipitously, there was one open spot located one site away from each other. This was our first camping trip together! We didn’t know it yet, but this is where The Wandering Families blog really began. 

The Kennedys arrived on Friday and were all settled in by the time the Elmore’s arrived on Saturday. With it being a holiday, the campground was packed, but the TN state parks do a great job of giving you enough space to feel like you are in the woods. The first evening we primarily spent time at the campsite, letting the kids play on the playground, run around, and ride their bikes and ride on toys. 

On Sunday, we woke up and prepared breakfast at the campsite. We decided to do a little exploring. We visited the Great Falls Dam which has an impressive waterfall. We then climbed up around the old Spring House which looks like a little fairy house. The girls loved it. We even descended part of the steep climb down the Old Mill Gorge trail which was very steep and slippery. A little nerve wracking with three one-year olds and two three-year olds. All in all, this area is great for a short visit with lots to see within a short distance of the car. 

From here, we left the park to drive around to the other side of the river to Twin Falls which is truly stunning. The water emerges directly from the rock face! I have never seen anything like it! I later learned that this is a man-made phenomenon that is a result of the damming of the Caney Fork that redirected two streams behind the rock face. With nowhere else to go, the water comes through the rock and creates some truly impressive waterfalls. There is a parking area near the dam and several steps to climb down, but overall this is a very accessible viewing point. If you want to find different vantage points or get closer to the water, there is certainly more to explore. 

After this we drove around the beautiful farmland for a while hoping the toddlers would sleep, but had limited success. So we made our way to the beach area. Unfortunately, it was cloudy and threatening to rain, so we didn’t spend as much time as we would have on a nice day. Nonetheless, the beach area is very nice with shallow water that is also great for kayakers. 

We made dinner in camp, as usual. The next day was time to journey home. We let the kids play on the playground while the guys waited in line at the dumping station. On a holiday weekend, the line was pretty long. 

The only cons of this park were lack of full hookups, and it isn’t very walkable from one area of the park to another. We found that it seemed safest to drive to most areas of the park rather than walk or bike. The topography is pretty steep and the road is quite busy. It could be that we just didn’t know the walkable routes. This is something I would like to explore further next time. In reviewing park information for this blog, I realize there are a few areas we didn’t explore. We are already making plans to go back and this time our crew will be nearly 2 years older! Where does the time go? 

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