I thought we'd stumbled on a well-kept secret when I read the desciption of the public campgrounds run by the Tennessee Valley Authority. Located on the pristine Douglas Reservoir, the campgrounds feature water and electric hookups, rest rooms with heated showers and flush toilets, swimming beaches, boat ramps, and wildlife trails.
All this at the bargain prices of $20 for sites with water and electric, and $24 for sites that include sewer too. Tent sites are a mere $16 a night, about the price of most state and national parks.
Alas, what the TVA's site doesn't reveal is that only a handful of sites are available on a first-come, first-served basis. The rest are locked up in long-term reservations, and apparently one needs to reserve as soon as the TVA begins accepting reservations just before the start of the season. By the time the campground opens, these sites are booked for the season.
Although it was cold, and early in the season, this campground was filled, except for a couple of tent sites. The sister campground at the dam tailwater was similarly filled.
It's easy to see why. The sites are large (although open), and the TVA land is stunningly beautiful. Add to that over-the-top recreation, including swimming and boating, and you'll never lack for customers.
So we left campground, disappointed that we couldn't stay here, but happy to see the local population taking advantage of a marvelous recreational opportunity.