Backbone Rock Recreation Area Pavilions

Cherokee National Forest

The pavilion at Backbone Rock Recreation Area is a popular location for family reunions and other types of group gatherings. The pavilion is large and adjacent to an expansive field, Beaverdam Creek, and a large parking area. The area includes accessible grills, picnic tables, dumpsters, and vault toilets.  PLEASE NOTE: The Large reservable pavilion at Backbone Rock Day Use Area and the smaller non-reservable pavilion next to 'The Rock' at Backbone Rock Day Use Area will both be CLOSED due to Historic Preservation Repair starting Nov 1, 2023 until approximately MONDAY, SEPT 23, 2024. These are necessary repairs to be made to ensure these CCC-era Pavilions are safely used for generations to come.  

There is a Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) -era pavilion, picnic tables and grills. The pavilion includes a stone fireplace and several large picnic tables with additional tables and grills nearby. Vault toilets are located within the parking area, and are open for the 2022 season.   

Need to Know

Natural Features

Backbone Rock Recreation Area is located along Beaverdam Creek in northern Johnson County. Backbone Rock gets its name from a spur ridge on Holston Mountain that ends abruptly at a bend in Beaverdam Creek. A tunnel was drilled through the rock in 1901 to allow railroad access between Shady Valley, TN and Damascus, VA. Motorists pass through what is locally known as "The shortest tunnel in the world" as they travel along TN 133. 

Nearby Attractions

Damascus, Virginia is five miles North of Backbone Rock for any in-town needs.


There is a trail that will take you to the top of Backbone Rock, following a stone-step wooded path. The trail crosses the rock and leads to Beaverdam Creek or Backbone Rock Falls. The Appalachian National Scenic Trail adjoins Backbone Rock Trail. Beaverdam Creek is known for its excellent fishing.

Contact Information


4400 Unicoi Drive Unicoi Tennessee 37692

Phone Number

For campground inquiries, please call: 423-735-1500

Rental Options

Learn more about gear rental options for your trip

Driving Directions

From Bristol, TN take US 421 south for 20 miles to Shady Valley. Turn left onto TN 133 for eight miles to the recreation area. From Abingdon, VA, take US 58 east for 15 miles to Damascus. Turn right onto VA 716 for five miles to the recreation area (VA 178 becomes TN 133 at the state line).

Available Campsites

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