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Welcome to Tennessee’s Cumberland Plateau

Welcome to Tennessee’s Cumberland Plateau

Tennessee’s Appalachian Cumberland Plateau

Welcome to Tennessee’s Cumberland Plateau, one of the nation’s foremost natural and historical recreation areas. The 21 counties lying entirely or partially on the plateau contain:

    • Over 500,000 acres in publicly owned recreation lands:(compared to 517,000 acres in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.) This acreage includes


        3 National Park system units


        15 State Parks


        14 State Natural Areas


        7 State Forests


        23 Wildlife Management Areas or Refuges, including one of only two elk herds in the southeast


        1 National Scenic River and 3 State Scenic Rivers


    • Approximately 700 miles of State Scenic Byways.


    • 919 miles of trails and greenways, including the 280-mile Cumberland Trail now under construction, federally designated as a National Millennium Legacy Trail, which will be one of longest continuous mountain trails in the eastern United States.


    • 250 sites on the National Register of Historic Places, including 44 Historic Districts.


    • Remnants of several historic roads across the Plateau, including Daniel Boone’s Wilderness Road, the Walton Road, the Trail of Tears, and the Chattanooga-McMinnville Stage Road.


    • 4 National Historic Landmarks.


    • 8 National Natural Landmarks.


    • 3.8 million acres of Forest. Forest covers an estimated 67.5% of all counties of the Plateau, providing good wildlife habitat and scenic value.


    • 7 reservoirs of over 1000 acres, and 32 smaller lakes.


    • World-class diversity of animal and aquatic species.


According to the World Wildllife Fund, the Cumberland Plateau’s ecoregion represents one of the most biologically diverse temperate forests and freshwater systems in the world.


An extraordinary concentration of scenic attractions, caused by a unique geology.

The Cumberland Plateau’s geology, with hard sandstone caprock overlaying soluble limestone, is distinctly different from other mountain ranges in the US. As a result, the Plateau has a greater diversity of scenic attractions than other mountains in the eastern U.S. :

    • 122 natural bridges and stone arches, including 16 over 30 feet in height and four over 60 feet in height, most in public ownership.


    • 22 chimney formations, including 14 over 20 feet in height and one 200 feet high, most in public ownership.


    • Hundreds of miles of sandstone cliffs up to 120 feet tall, including four of the finest rock climbing sites in the southeast.


    • 164 waterfalls, including 39 over fifty feet and 10 over 100 feet, most in public ownership. This list includes the highest waterfall east of the Mississippi.


    • 280 caves, 21 of which are described as “extensive,” including Cumberland Caverns, Big Bone Cave, and Wonder Cave.


    • Many wild and spectacular gorges, including Savage Gulf State Natural Area (11,000 acres), containing one of the nation’s most significant remnants of virgin cove forest.


  • 1200 miles of rivers and streams identified by the National Park Service as having “outstandingly remarkable” natural or cultural values judged to be of national significance. The Plateau counties contain 45 out of a total of 100 Tennessee streams so classified by the NPS.

For infomation about the distances to the plateau from major metropolitan areas click here.

Natural Sites

Natural Sites

Amazing natural places in the world with wonders and great scenery for tourist attraction.

Tennessee’s Cumberland Plateau is home to vast forests and beautiful scenery as well as opportunities to see wildlife and the natural wonders of waterfalls, rivers, lakes, arches, caves and cliffs.

Tennessee’s Cumberland Plateau consists of the following 21 counties:

Van Buren
    Cumberland Trail State Park Norris Dam State Park
    Norris Watershed City Park (contains Lenoir Museum Cultural Complex) 800-457-4542
  • Bledsoe
    Bledsoe State Forest
  • Campbell
    Cumberland Trail State ParkCove Lake Park
    Norris Dam State Park
    Royal Blue Wildlife Management Area
    Chuck Swan Wildlife Management Area

  • Claiborne
    Cudjo Caverns
    Cumberland Trail State Park Cumberland Gap National Historic Park & Cumberland Gap Historic District
  • Cumberland
    Catoosa Wildlife Management Area
    Catoosa Wildlife Management Area
    Cumberland Trail State Park
    Obed River Arboretum and Park
    Bledsoe State Forest 615-452-3706
    Cumberland Mountain State Park 800.250.8618
    Ozone Falls 877.465.3861
  • Fentress
    Colditz Cove State Natural Area
    Horseback Riding Trails
    Christian Tunnel
    Catoosa Wildlife Management Area
    Big South Fork National River & Recreation Area

  • Franklin
    University of the South
    Walls of Jericho State Natural Area
    Bear Hollow Wildlife Management Area
    Franklin State Forest
  • Grundy
    South Cumberland State Recreation Area
  • Hamilton
    Tennessee River Gorge
    Lookout Mountain Natural Bridge
    Raccoon Mountain Overlook
    North Chickamauga Creek State Natural Area
    Falling Water Falls
    Cumberland Trail State Park
    Julia Falls
    Bluff Trail Arch
    Lookout Mountain Caverns & Cavern Castle Historic District (NRHP)
  • Marion
    Prentice Cooper State Wildlife Management Area
    Cumberland Trail State Park
    Tennessee River Gorge
    Russell Cave National Monument
    Franklin State Forest
    Nickajack Cave
  • Morgan
    Big South Fork National River
    Frozen Head State Park 423-346-3318
    Catoosa Wildlife Management Area
    Obed National Wild Scenic River 423-346-6294
    Catoosa Wildlife Management Area
    Cumberland Trail State Park
    Barnetts Rib
    Hegler Arches
  • Overton
    Standing Stone State Park
  • Pickett
    Pickett State Park
    Cordell Hull Birthplace State Park
    Tunnel Trail Arches
    Hwy 154 Natural Bridge
    Greenwood Cliff Arch
  • Putnam
    Burgess Falls State Park and Natural Area
  • Rhea
    Laurel Snow Natural Area
    Stinging Fork Falls Natural Area
    Piney Falls Natural Area
    Cumberland Trail State Park
ca. 1981-1982, Cumberland Gap National Historic Park, USA — Fog in the Cumberland Plateau — Image by © David Muench/CORBIS
  • Roane
    Mount Roosevelt Wildlife Management
  • Scott
    Big South Fork National River & Recreation Area
    Scott State Forest
    Sundquist Wildlife Management Area
    Twin Arches
    Cumberland Trail State Park
    Russell Arch
    Betty Branch Arch
  • Sequatchie
    North Chickamauga Creek State Natural Area
  • Van Buren
    Fall Creek Falls State Park
    Piney Creek Falls
    Bledsoe State Forest
    Medley Arch
    Big Bone Cave State Natural Area & National Natural Landmark
  • Warren
    Cumberland Caverns
    Rock Island State Park and Natural Area
  • White
    Bridgestone/Firestone Centennial Wildlife Management Area
    Virgin Falls Pocket Wilderness State Natural Area
    Rock Island State Park and Natural Area
    Sheep Falls 931-836-3552

Also, bring gear that you might need, like that backpack!