The Big South Fork Recreational Area and National River - Oneida, Tennessee

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Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area

Park Headquarters
4564 Leatherwood Road
Oneida, Tennessee 37841

One of the best kept secrets in all of Big South Fork east tennessee vacation hiking, fishing, rock climbing, whitewater, hunting, capingTennessee and Kentucky is the Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area. At least it was. Over the years, word has slowly leaked out that this unspoiled natural habitat is a shiny new jewel in the crown of America’s National Park system. In fact, due to a few good books, a bit of marketing, and the natural word of mouth, the Big South Fork has emerged as a mecca for the naturalist.

What is the Big South Fork?
The Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area is 90 miles of river gorges, forest land, rock faces and churning white water — an ideal environment for nature lovers and people who like to participate in outdoor non-competitive sports. For those that come to the Big South Fork on an annual basis, it's become a destination for mountain climbing, fishing, mountain biking, hiking, white water rafting, kayaking, trail riding on horseback, and camping.

Where is Big South Fork?
The Big South Fork River and Recreation Area, located in portions of Northeast Tennessee and Southeast Kentucky, is maintained by the National Park Service.

Does Big South Fork have a visitor’s center?
Yes it does, two in fact. At each of the Big South Fork's visitor centers you can purchase backcountry permits, obtain visitor information, as well as helpful guide books.

• Bandy Creek Visitor Center in Tennessee is open year round except on Christmas day. From November through May their hours run from 8 am to 4:30 pm. From the months of June through October, the Brandy Creek Visitors Center is open until 6 pm. The Bandy Creek Visitor Center phone number is 931-879-3625.

The Kentucky Big South Fork visitor center is open daily from 9 am to 5:30 pm May through October. During the remainder of the year the schedule varies so you may want to give them a call before planning a trip. The center can be reached at 606-376-5073.

The Big South Fork is a year-round attraction.
The park is open all year, though most visitors to the area prefer to plan their trips for June through August while kids are out of school for summer break or during October for the Big South Fork's autumn leaf spectacular.

The climate of the Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area is typical of most southern locales. What that means is springtime in the Big South Fork features moderate, comfortable temperatures. Unfortunately, the mild beginnings of springtime inevitably give way to rather hot, humid summers and the occasional afternoon thunderstorm. So be sure to pack your raingear.

For most vacationers, Fall is the prime season to come and experience all the wondrous natural attractions of the Big South Fork. The weather is usually invigorating in temperature and nature’s beautiful display of leaf color is in full force. Following the autumn season, the winters are quite tolerable and mild.

Most of the precipitation in Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area comes in the form of rain. Nevertheless, BSFNRRA still manages to get 15-18 inches of snow a year. Ice storms only hit the area every several years. It is a good idea to check the weather here on Rod’s Guide before planning your trip.

Plants in Big South Fork National River Recreation Area.
It's a spectacular site, and many have grown to love the Big South Fork in the springtime for it’s wild flowering trees and shrubs such as dogwood, laurel and its red bud trees.

What about horses in the park?
Horseback riding is an great way to enjoy mother nature and is permitted in the Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area. Call Big South Fork Horse Camps at (423) 569-3321 to reserve a spot.

How do I get to Big South Fork?

From Interstate 75 South
If you're traveling south on I-75, exit at KY 461 and turn south. Continue south until you come to KY 80. Travel west on KY 80 until you come to US 27. Go south on US 27 to Oneida and take TN 297 west into the Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area.

From Interstate 40 West
If you are approaching the Big South Fork recreation area from I-40 west, get off the interstate at US 27 and turn north toward Oneida. Take TN 297 west into the park.

From Interstate 40 East
If you are coming to the Big South Fork from I-40 east, take the exit at US 127 and go north to TN 154. Travel north on TN 154 until you come to TN 297. Take TN 297 east into the park.

What is the Big South Fork's nearest airport?
The Big South Fork is not located in a very highly developed area. The nearest large airports are in Knoxville and Nashville. The nearest airport in Kentucky is located in Lexington.

Getting Around Big South Fork.
Currently, there is no public transportation in the Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area. The only way to navigate the area is by a personal or rented vehicle, a bike, by horseback or foot.

Big South Fork telephone numbers.
Park Headquarters - (423) 569-9778
Tennessee visitor center (Bandy Creek) - (931) 879-3625
Kentucky visitor center - (606) 376-5073
Blue Heron Mining Community - (606) 376-3787
Group Camps - (931) 879-4869
Bandy Creek Campground - (931) 879-4869
Camping Reservations