Tennessee State Parks
As you explore deeper into Great Smoky Mountains National Park, it's not just the views that take your breath away. The quiet does too, as the peaceful sounds of chirping birds and babbling brooks slowly give way to a symphony of silence. Across the state, just 15 minutes from downtown Memphis, a family rides on horseback through a wildflower meadow while nearby mountain bikers skitter over forest trails at Shelby Farms Park. This 4,500-acre oasis is one of the largest urban parks in America.
The Smoky Mountain loop is the ultimate scenic drive. Looking for deer, bear and wild turkey is a favourite pastime on car tours through pastoral Cades Cove in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The 11-mile loop road takes visitors past pioneer homesteads, churches and a gristmill, while others horseback through forests and enjoy picnics on riverbanks. Cades Cove (shown in the image above) is just one jewel of the Smoky Mountains, the most visited national park in the country. It's a wonderland for hiking, trout fishing, camping and just soaking up fresh mountain air. Autumn in Tennessee is a beautiful time to visit.
Tennesseans place a high value on outdoor recreation and great parks are within easy reach. Visitors can take a quick break from sightseeing to watch wildlife at Ijams Nature Center in Knoxville, cycle along the Chattanooga Riverfront or stroll around Radnor Lake in Nashville.
Weekends allow for lazy afternoons on the lake (fishing, water skiing, houseboating) or in the mountains (hiking, biking, camping, picnicking and more). Canoes glide between boulders at Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area near Huntsville. Fishermen keep company with bald eagles at Land Between the Lakes by Dover.
Horseback rides through the woods and fields of Natchez Trace State Park cover plenty of territory. The park near Wildersville has more than 250 miles of equestrian trails. Named after the legendary 18th-century footpath connecting Nashville to Natchez, Mississippi, the park is an outdoor playground with four lakes for fishing, swimming and water skiing, a lodge and cabins, plus paths for mountain biking and hiking.
Natchez Trace is only one of 53 state parks in Tennessee, a place where thrill-seekers can also raft the whitewater rapids on Hiwassee/Ocoee Scenic Rivers near Delano, history buffs can stroll through the Bicentennial Capitol Mall in the shadow of the State Capitol in Nashville and outdoor lovers can enjoy both water recreation and wildlife at Paris Landing State Park in Buchanan. Seven marinas, 33 swimming pools, 11 golf courses and five riding stables provide countless opportunities for fun.
Tennessee's State Parks offer an oasis of recreation, relaxation, history and more. To help plan your trip visit tnstateparks.com.