31 Ways to Make the Most of October
September 30, 2022 | Permalink
Photo: @katsabre on Instagram | Location: Cove Lake State Park
Consider this list of fall activities the ultimate way to make the most of fall in Tennessee!
Take One Photo in Nature Every Day in October
Fall is one of the prettiest times of year in Tennessee. Capture the beauty of the changing seasons by taking one photo in nature every day! It can be as simple as snapping a shot of the changing leaves outside your home or documenting your park visit. By the end of the month, you’ll have a gorgeous array of images that show the power of the changing seasons.
Take a Night Hike
Embark on a night hike lit by lanterns and moonlight and led by park rangers. Our parks are offering the exclusive opportunity to hike at night during these upcoming events:
- Night Hike at the Narrows of the Harpeth – Harpeth River State Park – October 4
- Full Moon Hike – Rocky Fork State Park – October 8
- Full Moon Rise of Mound bottom Hike – Mound Bottom State Archaeological Area – October 9th
- Full Moon Hike – Seven Islands State Birding Park – October 9
- Night Hike on the Plateau – Savage Gulf State Park – October 15
- Crystal Falls Lantern Hike – Pickett CCC Memorial State Park – October 22
Enjoy the Fall Foliage
The peak fall foliage can slip past you fast! Don't miss out on experiencing the vibrant colors in all their beauty. Check out our When and Where to View Fall Colors blog below for planning tips.
Go on a Haunted Tour
If you’re feeling brave, register for a haunted tour at one of our parks.
- Cordell Hull Birthplace State Park is leading a haunted trail hike along a small portion of the Bunkum Cave Trail on October 15.
- Big Ridge State Park is offering a 1-mile Ghost House Hike on October 7 and October 28. Listen as park rangers tell haunting tales while you tour the Norton Grist Mill, Norton Cemetery, and the remnants of an old homestead.
- Tims Ford State Park is hosting multiple Haunted Island Tours on October 28 and 29th. Embark on a short boat ride to Devil's Step Island where you'll take a short walk through the spooky forest.
Attend a Fall Festival
Festivals are one of the best ways to soak up all the sights and sounds of fall in one day. You’ll find fall festivals happening at state parks across Tennessee this October.
- 41st Annual Heritage Day Festival – Frozen Head State Park – October 8
- Fall-o-Dendron Heritage Festival – Roan Mountain State Park – October 8
- Heritage Day – Tims Ford State Park– October 8 - 9
- Harvest Craft Festival – Edgar Evins – October 15 - 16
- Fall Colors Spooktacular – Fall Creek Falls State Park - October 22
Fewer bugs, cooler temperatures, and beautiful scenery make fall the ideal season for camping. With thousands of campsites spread across the state, we invite you to pitch your tent at a state park this season.
Take a Fall Color Cruise
Enjoy the fall colors on the lake by taking a leisurely boat ride with your family, friends, and local friendly park ranger. Norris Dam State Park near Knoxville, TN, and Reelfoot Lake State Park in west Tennessee are offering pontoon rides around the lake throughout October.
There’s nothing like a warm gooey delicious s’more to round out your fall evening. Bring your own supplies to your campsite or register for one of our campfire events below:
- Join Rocky Fork State Park on October 21 for a short talk on black bears with s’mores to follow!
- Join local radio personality Mother Wit and Park Ranger Jessica Gossett at T.O. Fuller State Park in Memphis for a night of folktales, fire, and food on October 28.
Photo: @shawnlc on Instagram | Location: South Cumberland State Park
Go On a Creek Crawl
Creek crawls can be fun for all ages but are loved especially by curious children. To conduct your own creek crawl, visit a creek at a state park and meet some of the organisms that call it home! Look for critters, plant life, and other organisms in and around the creek. Remember to take pictures but leave what you find!
Rent a Cabin
For a cozy fall getaway with family or friends, rent a rustic cabin in the woods or mountains. Unplug, relax and spend some quality time in nature before heading inside to warm up by the fireplace.
Write Down What You’re Thankful For
Fall is the season of Thanksgiving, but you don’t need a holiday to remind yourself what you’re grateful for! Head out to a beautiful spot at a state park and write down a few things you’re feeling gratitude for.
Visit a Waterfall
Take a hike to one of Tennessee’s incredible waterfalls! With over 80 waterfalls in Tennessee State Parks to explore, you’ll be busy chasing waterfalls all fall long.
Photo: ©Colin J. McMechan | Location: Fall Creek Falls State Park
Make a Fall Craft
Our parks love to teach about the natural world, and sometimes that’s through art! Check out our upcoming events calendar to find crafting events this October.
Go Horseback Riding
Tour the fall foliage while trotting through the forest on horseback. Bring your own horse and hit the trails or register for a guided ride at the Chickasaw State Park Stables.
Run a Fall 5K
Get moving this fall by running for a great cause! The Hospice 5k Turkey Trot and Fun Run at Tims Ford State Park raises funds to assist hospice patients in Bedford, Cannon, Coffee, Franklin, Grundy, Lincoln, Moore, and Warren Counties.
The Glow in the Park 5K at David Crockett State Park in Lawrenceburg, Tennessee allows participants to run a 5k race around the park after dark. The funds support the Friends of David Crockett State Park and their projects that improve the park.
Photo: ©Aerial Innovations Southeast | Location: Standing Stone State Park Historic CCC Cabin
Cozy Up by the Fire
During those cool autumn nights, there’s nothing better than warming up by the fire with a mug of hot cocoa. Gather around the fire pit at a campsite or get cozy by the fireplace in a cabin.
Up for some campfire stories? Pull up a chair around the fire at Johnsonville State Historic Park in west Tennessee on October 22 and enjoy some good old-fashioned storytelling with Ranger Bob and Ranger Noah during the Tales at Twighlight event.
Read the Fall Issue of the Conservationist
The Conservationist is the official Magazine of Tennessee State Parks. It features stunning photography and smart stories about Tennessee's natural areas, parks, culture, and history. Subscribe today to gain instant access to the latest issue!
Dip a paddle into the cool water on a lake or river this fall! Check out these guided paddling events at our parks this October:
- Pickett CCC Memorial State Park in Pall Mall, Tennessee is leading an early morning canoe float around Arch Lake on October 21.
- Enjoy a spectacular array of fall colors from the seat of a kayak at Fort Loudoun State Historic Park on October 22. Ranger Baghetti will narrate your trip with tree identification and park history.
- Long Hunter State Park near Nashville is leading a kayak float under the full moon on October 25. On this float, you'll learn the history of Couchville and Percy Priest Lakes, call for owls, and discuss some of the constellations above!
Photo: @mikekerrmemphisphoto on Instagram | Location: Meeman-Shelby Forest State Park
Celebrate the season of giving by volunteering at a park or natural area you love!
Lace up your hiking boots and set out on a nature hike with family and friends, where you can take in the crisp air and the stunning fall foliage.
Immerse Yourself in Tennessee History
Visit the annual Tennessee Timeline event at Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park on October 15 to hear unique stories of Tennesseans who have impacted the world! This year, the park will have exhibitors from across Tennessee telling stories of former Presidents, small-town successes, and our state's natural history.
Do Some Reading Outside
Hang up your hammock, find a spot by the lake, or spread out at a picnic table and read. The cooler fall temperatures make October a great time to bring those inside activities into nature.
Go on a Hayride
The hayride is a classic fall activity that is fun for all ages. On October 8 at 10 AM and 1 PM, Fall Creek Falls State Park is offering historic hayrides through Dog Cove, to the Davis home area. Tours will begin at the historic Beecher Wallace Homestead, which lies approximately 20 miles north of Fall Creek Falls State Park.
Photo: @Tennessee Photographs | Location: South Cumberland State Park
Fall is a great time to go for a bike ride! Feel the crisp fall air rush around you as you cruise past beautiful autumn scenery.
There’s no such thing as too much candy...right? The trick-or-treating events listed below take place before Halloween, so you can have double the fun this October:
Bring the family for a night of trunk-r-treating, spooky hikes, and fall fun at Cummins Falls State Park on October 28. There will also be a spooky hike through the meadow trail and a bonfire with smores in the Field. Register below.
Put on your costume and join us at Seven Islands State Park on October 29 for a family-friendly adventure! You will hike approximately 1 mile down Kelly Lane while trick-or-treating at several stops. Along the way, you will learn about and meet some of the Creepy Creatures that live at Seven Islands. You will end at the Green House lawn, where families can enjoy storytelling, games, and a bonfire before heading back to the park entrance. Pre-registration is required online.
Identify Plants Using the iNaturalist App
While you’re exploring, take a few photos of plants you’d like to identify. Then download the iNaturalist app and upload your findings. The app will try and match your photo to the name of a species. If the app can’t figure it out right away, other users will weigh in until your plant is identified!
Stamp Your Parks Passport
Like a tiny scrapbook for your park memories, the Tennessee State Parks passports help you commemorate each visit to a new state park. Each park has a passport stamp that you can use to mark your visit. Passports are free and are available at every park visitor center.
Photo: ©Aerial Innovations Southeast | Location: Standing Stone State Park
Hunt for Fall Mushrooms
Get observant on your next hike by looking out for the many mushrooms that grow along our trails during fall!
Get a Head Start on Holiday Gifts
Tennessee State Parks offer some of the most unique and thoughtful gifts you can give to the outdoor lover in your life. Check out our online gift shop for apparel, accessories, posters, and more, or stop by one of our park gift shops during your visit.
Enjoy a Warm Meal with Friends and Family
Did you know that eight Tennessee State Parks have restaurants? Spend the day enjoying nature at the park before heading inside to enjoy a warm meal with friends and family.
Go Bird Watching
One of the easiest and most rewarding fall activities is bird watching. All you must do is watch and listen! To level up your bird watching, you can purchase a field guide or pull from one of the many online resources.