Forest Supervisor's Office
2800 Ocoee Street N
Cleveland TN 37312
(423) 476-9721 (Fax) PLEASE NOTE: This is an information and administrative office located in Cleveland, TN and is not actually in the forest.
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 abrubtly ends at a bend in Beaverdam Creek.
A tunnel was drilled through the rock in 1901 to allow railroad access between Shady Valley and Damascus, VA. Motorists pass through what is known as "The Shortest Tunnel in the World" as they travel along TN 133. In the 1930s The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) developed the recreation area for day use, constructing two picnic shelters and hiking trails that incorporated native stonework. The campground was added in the 1960s and rehabilitated in the mid 1990s.
At a Glance
The water system at the Backbone Rock Recreation Area was recently completed. There are now flush toilets and running water available.
The campground opens at 7a.m. and closes at 10p.m. Guests are asked to leave before closing time. The Day-Use area including the Pavilions and hiking trails are open year round, developed areas open sunrise to sundown.
The whole campground is now on the reservation system at www.recreation.gov. Groups may choose to reserve the large pavilion and adjacent campground for events.
Camping is $10 for single site (8 sites) and $20 for double site (2 sites). The two pavilions are $30 and $50 per day. Pavilions and campsites can be reserved online at www.Recreation.gov
A special use permit is required for groups of more than 74 people on National Forest lands.
Campground opens May 1. Day Use is open year around, with vault toilets open starting March 1. - Campground closes December 7, weather dependent. Vault toilets in picnic areas close Dec. 28.
Sites are limited to a single family or not more than 5 people and 2 vehicles. Double campsites allow for up to 10 individuals and 4 vehicles. No alcoholic beverages are allowed in the area. No burning plastic or other non-wood materials except charcoal in fire pits and grills.
Damascus, Virgina and Bristol, Tennessee
Port-a-john and vault toilets
Forest Service Volunteer Campground Hosts help manage the area and can provide visitor information.
From Bristol, take US 421 south for 20 miles to Shady Valley. Turn left onto TN 133 for eight miles to Backbone 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 716 becomes TN 133 at the stateline).
Several individual picnic tables are available. Two CCC-era pavilions are available for picnicking. The pavilions may be reserved for $50 or $30 online at www.Recreation.gov. If not reserved, they are first-come, first-served.
The two CCC-era pavilions are great opportunites for group picnicking, and can be reserved online at www.Recreation.gov
Pavilions can be reserved for $30 a day by calling the Watuaga Ranger Station.