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 is currently under repair. There is currently no running water available at the site.
Campground opens at 7a.m. and closes at 10p.m. The Day-Use area including the Pavilions and hiking trails is open year round.
Camping is $10 for single site (9 sites) and $20 for double site (2 sites). The two pavilions are $30 and $50 per day, and can be reserved by calling the Watauga Ranger Station.
Campground opens May 6. Day Use is open year around. - Campground closes October 15.
Sites are limited to a single family or not more than 5 people and 2 vehicles. No alcoholic beverages are allowed in the area.
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. May be reserved for $30 by calling the Watauga Ranger Station. If not reserved, first-come, first-served.
The two CCC-era pavilions are great opportunites for group picnicking, and can be reserved by calling the Watauga Ranger District.
Pavilions can be reserved for $30 a day by calling the Watuaga Ranger Station.