COVID-19 UPDATES: Keeping Visitors Healthy

5 Ways to Keep Cool This Summer

July 1, 2020  |  Permalink

five ways to stay cool this summer at Tennessee state parks

Summer activities may look a little different this year, but there are still ways to beat the summer heat at Tennessee State Parks. We've put together five unique activities that will help you get outside without breaking too much of a sweat. Before setting out on your adventure, we encourage visitors to read our latest information regarding safety. During your visit, remember to practice physical distancing by keeping at least 6 feet apart from other visitors. Please note that all Tennessee State Park events and guided tours encourage participants to bring and wear masks. Visitors are required to wear masks inside state park facilities.

guided tours at dunbar cave state park

1. Tours at Dunbar Cave State Park

Beat the summer heat inside a cave! Dunbar Cave stays cool at around 58 degrees, even on a hot summer day. With daily cave tours, you can explore the cave that served as a shelter to prehistoric Native Americans around 10,000 years ago. It's the only site in the country where the public can see Native American Mississippian cave art. These tours book up quickly, so make sure and reserve your spot in advance. 


COVID UPDATE: To provide quality cave tours, Dunbar Cave requires tour participants to wear a mask. These masks are provided as part of the tour fee. To adhere to social distancing recommendations, we are limiting group sizes to 10. Exceptions may be made for family groups.

sunset pontoon tours at reelfoot lake state park

2. Guided Paddling and Boat Tours

If you're new to paddling or looking to explore a park from a new perspective, our Ranger-guided tours offer expert guidance and information on our parks' natural and cultural side. 

Boat Tours

Sunrise Pontoon Tours at Reelfoot Lake State Park
  • Explore the flooded forest that is Reelfoot lake. Float past towering cypress trees while taking advantage of the cooler temperatures and beauty of golden hour. Purchase tickets.
Pontoon Tours at Fall Creek Falls State Park
  • Did you know that Fall Creek Falls has a gorgeous lake in addition to its stunning waterfalls? Feel the cool breeze as you cruise the lake and gain insights on the park's natural side. Purchase tickets.


Paddling Tours

Guided Kayak Floats at Henry Horton State Park 
  • These family-friendly floats on the Duck River at Henry Horton State Park are offered in single and tandem “sit-on-top” kayaks. These floats are perfect for all skill levels and show off 3-miles of the scenic river. View float schedule. 
Cypress Swamp Canoe Floats at Meeman-Shelby 


COVID Update: Lifejackets are provided and will be disinfected along with paddle craft after each trip per CDC guidelines and state protocols. However, we encourage guests to bring their own life jackets. Please bring masks for all events at Tennessee State Parks. Masks should be worn if 6 feet of social distance cannot be kept.

Cummins falls state park gorge access permit

3. Cummins Falls Gorge Access Passes

Cummins Falls State Park has been a popular swimming destination for people looking to beat the summer heat for many years. The new Cummins Falls Gorge Access Permit limits access to the gorge and the base of the falls to 150 people, assisting park rangers in protecting visitors, staff, and the natural environment. You can purchase an access permit online to experience the falls yourself. Weekdays have the most availability, while weekends are quickly filling up weeks in advance. 


kayak and canoe rentals at Tennessee state parks

4. Boat and Paddle Craft Rentals

You don't have to own equipment to enjoy boating, kayaking, and paddleboarding. With rentals from our parks, you can get out on the water without a substantial financial investment. 

Paddle craft- kayaks, canoes, paddleboards, and pedal boats- can be rented at most parks that offer paddling across the state. Many of our parks that offer paddle rentals also feature overnight accommodations such as Big Hill Pond and Chickasaw State Park.


Boats, such as fishing and pontoon, are available to rent from the marinas at many of our parks that feature boating. You can find overnight accommodations at many of these parks, such as Pickwick Landing and Paris Landing State Park.


COIVD UPDATE: Lifejackets are provided and will be disinfected along with paddle craft after each trip per CDC guidelines and state protocols. However, we encourage guests to bring their own life jackets.

swim beach at Montgomery bell state park

5. Swim Beaches

Our swim beaches may not be on the ocean's shore, but for many Tennessee residents, they serve as an oasis close to home. Our swim beaches at these parks across the state offer a day full of sun, sand, and cool waters. The swim beach at Montgomery Bell was recently highlighted as an alternative to a beach vacation.


COVID Update: While swimming and sunbathing at the beaches, we ask that you practice social distancing by keeping at least 6 feet away from others.

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