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water flowing between the rocks at Rock Island State Park

Located in Tennessee, less than an hour south of Cookeville, Rock Island State Park is a natural wonderland that offers visitors an intoxicating mix of outstanding natural scenery, invigorating outdoor recreational activities, and plenty of historical charm.

Covering an area of 883 acres, it is known for its stunning waterfalls, rugged terrain, and diverse flora and fauna which has changed little over the centuries.

Visitors to Rock Island State Park can enjoy a wide range of outdoor activities, from boating and fishing to hiking and bird watching. In addition, the park also offers a variety of facilities for picnicking and photography, making it the perfect destination for families, nature lovers, and outdoor enthusiasts.

As it is only a 90 minute drive from Nashville, many people come to this Tennessee state park for a day trip. However, there are also those who visit for a weekend or longer vacation.

For them, the park has an excellent campground which offers several different accommodation options.


Rock Island State Park is a natural wonderland that offers visitors a unique experience of pristine scenic beauty.

Showcased below is a selection of some of the main things you can see and do during your time there.

Boating at Rock Island State Park

One of the most popular activities at Rock Island State Park is boating.

The park is located on the banks of the Caney Fork River and offers visitors access to some of the most scenic and beautiful waterways in Tennessee.

Boaters can launch their vessels at the park’s boat ramp, which provides easy access to the river. The park also offers boat rentals, making it easy for visitors to explore the river without having to bring their own boats.

Great Falls waterfall at Rock Island State Park

Swimming at Rock Island State Park

Swimming is one of the most popular activities at Rock Island State Park. The park is known for its beautiful cascading waterfalls and deep pools that offer visitors a refreshing respite on hot summer days.

The park features two designated swimming areas: the beach area at the Great Falls Day Use Area and the Blue Hole Swimming Area. The Great Falls beach is located at the top of the gorge and has a wide expanse of sand and shallow water for wading and swimming. The Blue Hole Swimming Area is located at the bottom of the gorge and features a deep, clear pool that is perfect for swimming and jumping off rocks.

Both swimming areas are open from Memorial Day through Labor Day and are staffed with lifeguards during peak hours.

Fishing at Rock Island State Park

Rock Island State Park is also a great place for fishing, attracting anglers from all over the state.

The Caney Fork River is home to a variety of fish species, including bass, catfish, and crappie, all of which regularly bite.

The park offers fishing piers and access to the river, which provides a great opportunity for both bank and boat fishing.

Fishing licenses are required, and visitors should check the state’s fishing regulations before casting their lines.

Hiking at Rock Island State Park

For those who love hiking, Rock Island State Park offers a variety of trails that wind through the park’s stunning landscape.

The park has over 10 miles of hiking trails that range from easy to moderate difficulty, making them suitable for hikers of all ages and abilities.

These trails offer breathtaking views of the park’s waterfalls, rivers, and natural beauty, and enable visitors to spot a variety of wildlife and flora on their hikes.

Twin Falls waterfall at Rock Island State Park

Photography at Rock Island State Park

The park is a photographer’s paradise, with stunning waterfalls, rugged terrain, and diverse flora and fauna. Whether you’re a professional photographer or a hobbyist, there are plenty of opportunities to capture the beauty of this natural wonder.

One of the most popular spots for photography is the Great Falls, a series of cascading waterfalls that drop 30 feet into the gorge below. The Great Falls Overlook provides a breathtaking view of the falls, and visitors can capture stunning photos of the waterfalls from various angles and vantage points.

Another popular area for photography is the Twin Falls, which features two parallel waterfalls that drop into a deep, turquoise pool. The overlook provides a great vantage point to capture the falls from above, and visitors can also hike down to the bottom of the gorge for a different perspective.

The park’s numerous trails also offer great opportunities for nature and wildlife photography. The Downstream Trail, for example, winds through a lush forest and offers panoramic views of the river and surrounding landscape. Visitors can capture images of wildflowers, butterflies, and songbirds along the way.

For photographers interested in night photography, the park’s incredible dark skies also make for excellent opportunities to capture the stars and the Milky Way.


Pets are welcome at Rock Island State Park, but visitors are required to keep their pets on a leash and to clean up after them.

The park has several trails that are pet-friendly, making it a great destination for a day out with your furry friend.

If you do intend bringing your pooch with you, it is worth contacting the main office for a comprehensive rundown of its pet policy.


Rock Island State Park offers a variety of camping options, from primitive campsites to cabins and RV sites.

Overall, the park has 60 campsites, which are equipped with picnic tables, grills, and fire rings, and some of them have water and electrical hookups.

The park also has 10 cabins, which are fully furnished and offer a great way to experience the beauty of the park in comfort.

As the campground is a popular place to stay at, especially in the summer, reservations are recommended.

Park Location

Rock Island State Park
82 Beach Rd
Rock Island, TN 38581
Phone: 888.867.2757

Park Website



Here is a short YouTube video showcasing several attractions at Rock Island State Park: