COVID-19 UPDATES: Keeping Visitors Healthy

Keeping Visitors Healthy

All Tennessee State Parks, and most park facilities, are open. Some operations may have occupancy and usage limits. Signage throughout the parks will encourage proper social distancing and provide information about the cleaning standards for particular facilities or spaces.

Parks or areas of parks could be closed when the capacity is reached. Check out our COVID-19 Closures page for the most up to date information. 

VIEW CLOSURE MAP

Several areas are experiencing high visitation, full parking lots, and lots of litter on the weekends. If you arrive at an area and find there is no parking, please choose a different destination for your adventure.

Some of the sites seeing greatest visitation issues include:

  • Short Springs State Natural Area (Machine Falls)
  • South Cumberland State Park (Foster Falls, Greeter Falls, Sycamore Falls, Grundy Forest)
  • Rock Island State Park
  • Burgess Falls State Park
  • Radnor Lake State Park
  • Long Hunter State Park
  • Harpeth River State Park

Overnight Accommodations

Most overnight accommodations - campsites, cabins, Lodges, etc.- are open. Online reservations are available, but online inventory may be lower than normal as we work to enhance social distancing. Availability is subject to change as the situation evolves. Reservations are also accepted over the phone by calling the particular park you wish to visit.

Normal cancellation policies apply to upcoming reservations. 

Travel Planning & COVID-19

Wondering how to plan a safe trip to a Tennessee State Park during COVID-19? Here are the tips, FAQs, and links to help you plan.

COVID-19 Tips for Visitors

As we reopen our parks and facilities, we have implemented policies designed to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and we will monitor all aspects of the issue to ensure continued safety. We urge the public to help us keep our state parks open by doing their part to stay apart, by maintaining proper social distancing and practicing personal hygiene. The CDC has recommendations for those looking to visit public lands. We also have some specific things you need to know as you plan your visits: 

  • Don’t visit if you’re sick or were recently exposed to someone with COVID-19.
  • Practice social distancing.
    • Maintain at least six feet of separation between you and other visitors. 

  • Visitors should wear masks inside state park facilities. 
    • Visitors are required to follow the mask ordinances of the county they are in, or the park rules listed below, whichever are more stringent.

    • Visitors are required to wear a mask in any state park facility staffed by employees or where the general public may congregate.  This includes park offices, visitor centers, stores, nature centers, restrooms or while touring any indoor facility being considered for rent.  If visitors do not have a mask, parks will maintain a small amount of paper masks to provide to a visitor for their use. 

    • Any park rental facility- including cabins, Lodge rooms, campsites, picnic shelters, group facilities, etc. - are considered as having “restricted use” and will be the responsibility of the party renting that facility.  It is recommended that they follow all CDC recommendations and guidelines regarding social distancing and mask wearing.

  • Don’t travel long distances to visit state parks.
    • Look for parks that are a short drive from your house. 

    • If you’re considering an overnight trip, we encourage you to plan to stay local if possible.
  • Don’t visit crowded areas.
    • If parks are full, consider coming back at a different time. Consider coming earlier in the day to allow for plenty of time if an area is full and you need to adjust your plans. Tennessee State Parks may limit access to certain parks or areas if capacity is reached.

  • Only park in designated areas.
    • Please do not park along the shoulders of roads. If a parking area is full, please adjust your plans and find another area to visit. 

  • Follow all park rules and regulations. 
    • You can find our rules and regulations here

    • We especially ask that you stay on trail and not enter areas that are closed or restricted. 

  • Plan ahead.
    • Understand if a park or area of the park you plan to visit is open or closed. Specific details about any closures is available on the COVID-19 Closures page.

    • Bring everything you will need to have a safe and enjoyable day in the park. Here are a few specific points for planning:

      • Closed buildings. Many public buildings and facilities reopened on May 1, but some may still be closed during your visit.

      • Restrooms. Some restrooms may be open, but some may remain closed. We ask that you help us keep our restrooms clean and practice appropriate personal hygiene in accordance with the  CDC's recommendations

      • Supplies. Please make sure you bring the food, certified heat treated firewood, etc. that you might need during your trip. Some of the stores in our parks and local communities may or may not be open during your visit.

        We encourage everyone to bring and use hand sanitizer.

  • Pack out your trash.
    • When it’s time to leave, please clean up after yourselves. Carry out any trash or dispose of it in the appropriate containers.

  • Contact Information.
    • Most park offices and Visitors Centers should be open and able to assist during your visit.
    • If a facility is closed, there should be signage providing phone numbers and methods for reaching staff or rangers.
    • In the event of a life-threatening emergency, please call 911.

General Safety Tips for Visitors

Our Tennessee State Parks are full of beauty and adventure; however they are also natural and wild places. Our park resources, wildlife, and staff depend on you to enjoy them safely and responsibly during your next visit. Please check the Alerts page or the particular park's homepage on our website for updated information or emergency bulletins. If you have any questions about the park, please contact the park office, visitor center, or on-duty Park Ranger directly.   

While planning your next visit to a Tennessee State Parks, please keep in mind a few safety tips to ensure your adventure is a safe and enjoyable one:

  • BE WEATHER AWARE- Tennessee weather can change quickly. Know the day's forecast and plan accordingly. 

  • KNOW YOUR LIMITATIONS- Understand your fitness level and experience with hiking and outdoor activity. Know the distance you plan to hike, and always carry adequate food and water. Always wear appropriate footwear for the type of activity you are planning to enjoy. Flip flops are not the best for hiking, and often result in injured ankles. 

  • HAVE AN EMERGENCY PLAN- Always tell someone where you are going, and when you return. If possible, keep a cell phone or communication device with you. Always register at designated trailheads where kiosks are present. Give yourself plenty of time to return before sundown or close of day. We recommend visitors not hike alone in case of emergency.

  • LIFE JACKETS SAVE LIVES!- While recreating on or near water, always wear your life jacket. Tennessee State Law requires everyone under the age of 12 to wear a life jacket.

  • NO RISKY BUSINESS- Always abide by park rules and regulations. Do not jump or dive from cliffs or waterfalls. Don't risk going around barricades or off trail into dangerous or protected areas for shortcuts or Instagram selfies. Always stay on the trail and enjoy the scenery from overlooks and safe locations. Never recreate in Tennessee State Parks under the influence of drugs or alcohol. 

  • SECURE YOUR CAR AND VALUABLES- Always lock your vehicle at parking lots or trail heads. Limit break-ins by not leaving items such as cell phones, electronics, purses, or valuables in plain sight. 

  • BE PET RESPONSIBLE- All pets much be on a six-foot physical leash while in Tennessee State Parks. Pack plenty of water and food for your pet, and clean-up any pet waste.

  • IF YOU SEE SOMETHING, SAY SOMETHING- Everyday, visitors help to save lives and protect our parks by alerting Park Rangers or staff to dangerous situations or behavior occurring the park. We depend on you to help us preserve and protect our greatest resources in Tennessee State Parks. 

Lodges

Tennessee State Parks operate several hotel properties across the state. The Lodges at Tennessee State Parks staff are taking the Tennessee Pledge and working to ensure overnight Lodge guests have a safe and pleasant experience. We have made a few changes to our processes to make this possible during your stay:

  • Room Cleaning Procedures. In accordance with the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and State of Tennessee COVID-19 Guidelines, Policies and Procedures, we will not be servicing lodge rooms as we traditionally did pre-COVID. Until given further guidance and to ensure your safety and the safety of our staff, we cannot service your room during your stay. However, we will continue to offer the quality service you deserve by providing the traditional amenities that you have come to expect from our Lodge. These include replacement towels, coffee, and other amenities. To receive these amenities, simply call or visit the front desk between the hours of 9am-4pm or ask one of our staff members when you see them. We apologize for any inconvenience and appreciate your understanding.
  • Lobbies and common spaces. We are adjusting furniture in our common spaces to increase social distancing. We ask that guests bring and wear a mask while in lobbies, foyers, gift shops, etc. We also ask that you follow the CDC’s personal hygiene recommendations when using common spaces.
  • Dining services. Our restaurants may have adjusted hours and service offerings during your visit. This may include limiting service to takeout only.
  • Safe outdoor recreation. We have developed general recommendations for all Tennessee State Parks visitors to help control the spread of COVID-19. We ask that you read our Keeping Visitors Healthy information to prepare for a safe and enjoyable visit.

Group Facility Rentals

All groups will need to practice social distancing protocols as recommended by the Tennessee Pledge and the CDC guidelines. All guests are encouraged to wear a mask and keep 6 feet apart. We encourage all groups to communicate directly with the park at which you have planned your event. This will allow park staff to work directly with you to discuss implementing social distancing protocols and answer logistical questions pertaining to your particular gathering. If groups need to cancel due to concerns with COVID-19 or inability to adhere to social distancing guidelines, the reservation will be cancelled and a full refund will be given. 

Restaurants

Service, menus and hours will vary at each location. Please contact the restaurant for more information.

Outdoor Grilling Areas

Parks that offer outdoor grills for visitors’ personal use are available. Please practice social distancing while using these facilities. 

Swimming Pools

Tennessee State Parks closed public swimming pools at state parks for the 2020 summer season. The decision was made to keep these facilities closed in the interest of public health and staff safety. COVID-19 presents unique challenges for managing pools. Pools are confined spaces not conducive to social distancing. The very nature of lifeguarding requires close contact with pool users and creates potential for unnecessary risk in life saving situations. We apologize for this inconvenience and look forward to the next opportunity we have to reopen pool facilities for your enjoyment. Tennessee State Parks still offer a wide range of water-based recreation. Boating, fishing and paddling are always popular summer activities. Many Tennessee State Parks even have places to splash and wade at approved spots on the shorelines of lakes and rivers. To see a full list of impacted park pools, click here

Boat Rental Operations 

Most state park boat rental operations will open this summer. Hours and operating procedures will vary by park. Each park will implement additional safety and sanitation protocols to protect park staff and visitors and encourage social distancing. Boaters are encouraged to bring their own life jacket or approved personal floatation device (PFD).

Golf Courses

TN Golf Trail courses reopened April 24 and have implemented a few best practices to increase social distancing and combat the spread of COVID-19. Everyone should have a tee time in advance. You may call ahead to reserve a tee time. Walkup players may be accepted depending on availability. Practice areas and some clubhouses will be closed. Please be advised that restrooms could be closed. We will not provide water coolers or sand bottles on the course. We ask that you avoid common touch points during play. Our staff will let you know of any additional rules or changes upon arrival. If you have questions, please call the particular course you wish to visit.

Find a course

 

Events in the Parks

Large community events held within Tennessee State Parks will be assessed based on the ability of each event to meet social distancing guidelines. Special Use Permits will continue to be required with additional plans made in regard to how specific events can accomplish social distancing, hygiene, and cleaning requirements as outlined by the CDC.     

Resources

Looking for more information about the coronavirus? Here are a few resources to help:

Centers for Disease Control

Tennessee Department of Health