Tennessee State Parks

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Sycamore Shoals State Park


Interpretive Programs

Interpretive Museum - Be sure to take in our new interpretive museum that shares the nationally significant history of the late 18th century at Sycamore Shoals. The exhibits include striking murals created from original art by Richard Luce and realistic mannequins dressed in handmade attire and accoutrements of this era. Three dimensional exhibits and dioramas completely immerse the guest in the lifestyles and ways of those who first settled along the Watauga River Valley. Walking into a re-creation of Fort Watauga guarantees some surprises, coupled with audio stories and sounds shared along the journey. All of the major historical events come together in Patriots Theater, where our new film, “Sycamore Shoals: Story of the American Spirit,” honors the contributions, actions, and culture of the people who came before us.

Carter Mansion - Built between 1775-1780, the Carter Mansion may be the only remaining direct link to the Watauga Association and is the oldest frame house still standing in Tennessee. John Carter and his son, Landon, built the home. The finely detailed interior and over mantle paintings place the mansion among the most significant historic houses in the state. When Tennessee became a state in 1796, Carter County was named for Landon Carter, and the county seat, Elizabethton, was named for his wife, Elizabeth Maclin Carter. The Carter Mansion is located at 1031 Broad Street in Elizabethton. Read more about this historical home in a blog post by State Park Historian, Ward Weems: The Carter Mansion on Tennessee’s 1700s Frontier.

Educational Programming – Throughout the year, the park presents a wide variety of engaging special events and programs. Opportunities include militia musters presented by the Washington County Regiment of North Carolina Militia, Traditional Arts Workshops, demonstrations of 18th century life skills, Cherokee history and nature study. 


Birding at Sycamore Shoals is good throughout the year, but best during the spring and fall migrations. The Watauga River Trail is popular for spotting Yellow Crowned Night Herons, various waterfowl, and migratory warblers along the river. During early May and October, the Lee and Lois Herndon Chapter of the Tennessee Ornithological Society leads Saturday morning bird walks at the park. The walks are a great opportunity for experienced birders and new enthusiasts to meet other birders and naturalists and view the park's wildlife.


Watauga River Trail — 1.0 Miles — Fine Gravel — Easy
Greene Acres Trail — 1.0 Miles — Natural — Moderate
Overmountain Connector — 0.3 Miles — Natural — Easy