Kayaking at Rock Island State Park in Tennessee

Rock Island State Park, located in Warren County in Tennessee, is an 883-acre park located on the headwaters of Center Hill Lake at the confluence of the Caney Fork, Collins and Rocky Rivers. The immense beauty of the park includes the Caney Fork Gorge that sits stoically below the Great Falls Dam. The overlooks located within the confines of Rock Island State Park are some of the most beautiful and scenic along the Eastern Highland Rim. Great Falls is a thirty-foot cascading waterfall and is located just below the 19th century cotton textile mill that it powered over 100 years ago. Beyond the Gorge, the river enters the upper extremes of its Center Hill Lake impoundment, and begins carving its way northward toward the mouth along the Cumberland River near Carthage, Tennessee.  

A kayaker paddling at Rock Island State Park


Great Falls Dam, located near Rock Island State Park, was completed in 1916 by the Tennessee Electric Power Company for the purpose of power generation, was purchased by TVA in 1939. Today, white water kayakers come to Rock Island State Park to hone their kayaking skills on some of the worlds’ best whitewater. There have been both national and international paddling events held below the Great Falls Dam.


Rock Island became a Tennessee State Park in 1969 and has been enjoyed by families from across the globe since its origin. The park has been a popular area to camp, hike, swim, fish, and is a premier destination for white water kayakers. When Great Falls Dam is generating water, the output is enough to give any thrill-seeking weekend warrior or professional kayaker an adrenaline rush.

A picture of a Bending Branches Angler Pro paddle


The park also offers picturesque camping, hiking, and fishing. Inside the park, there are nine hiking trails located below Great Falls Dam. The area is home to a large population of Blue Heron that offer hikers a snapshot into the beauty and tranquility one can only experience within the confines of limestone walls of the Gorge.


Rock Island State Park in Tennessee is located 81 miles from Chattanooga, and 87 miles from Nashville. The drive from both cities takes about 1.5 hours. Traveling from Chattanooga on Highway 111 offers fantastic views of Sequatchie Valley, Walden's Ridge, and the Cumberland Plateau.