Find your Winter Wonderland

December 1, 2019  |  Permalink

One of our favorite carols this time of year is “Winter Wonderland.” The listener is overcome with a sense of youthful invigoration at the thought of building snowmen in the meadow, conspiring and dreaming by the fire, and walking in a winter wonderland. Fortunately, there are still a few places left on earth that can teleport you to these magical and carefree times. Satisfy your wanderlust in one of our winter wonderlands:

Roan Mountain State Park

Imagine standing on one of the famous Appalachian balds, gazing out over the vast mountain range spanning the eastern coast of the United States. Imagine the cold, cutting wind as it races over the mountains. Imagine the evergreens and the rhododendron bushes heaped with snow. It’s not unlike the moment when Lucy first stepped through the magical wardrobe to feel the prickly trees and the falling snow of Narnia.  This is the experience of visitors to Roan Mountain on the border of North Carolina and Tennessee. Roan Mountain State Park sits at the bottom of the 6,285-ft. Roan Mountain. The park positions itself as the ideal basecamp for adventure. Visitors who stay at the park’s cabins or campground are within driving distance of some of the area’s best ski slopes. One of the most exciting things to do is to ascend the mountain and step onto the Appalachian Trail at Cavers Gap. 

Places to Stay: Roan Mountain State Park offers cabins and campsite rentals. Warriors' Path State Park and David Crockett Birthplace State Park are both within an hour of Roan Mountain and also offer camping. 

LEARN MORE


Seven Islands State Birding Park

Seven Islands State Birding Park is a wildlife sanctuary located just east of Knoxville. This beautiful, 416-acre peninsula features more than eight-miles of natural trail, rolling hills and views of the Smoky Mountains. The park is a wildlife refuge that is home to more than 150 different types of birds throughout the year. Beautiful, rustic barns with tile quilts are scattered across the property, making it a picturesque destination for photographers.

While the park does not offer overnight camping or cabins, it is very close to Knoxville and Gatlinburg and a perfect stop for visitors of the Great Smoky Mountains.

Places to Stay: There are plenty of local hotels due to the park's proximity to nearby Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg. Visitors might also enjoy camping at Panther Creek State Park, which is 40 minutes away.

LEARN MORE


Pickett CCC Memorial State Park

This hidden gem is home to some of the most unique geology in all of Tennessee. Rock houses and bluffs tower over a forest of evergreens, rhododendron bushes and moss-covered timber. Even in the winter, this park is covered in lush, green foliage. The park’s architecture transports visitors back to the time of the Civilian Conservation Corp, and represents the best of the what those Depression-era work groups had to offer in terms of design and craftsmanship.

Located just under three hours from Nashville, it’s a beautiful weekend escape and a haven for every explorer. The best part about Pickett is that many of the most beautiful features are located less than ¼-mile from the trailheads, making it a perfect adventure destination for a wide range of guests. 

Places to Stay: Pickett CCC Memorial State Park offers cabins and a campground, and is a short drive from other area attractions like Big South Fork.

LEARN MORE


Cove Lake State Park

Gazing at the frozen water and mountainous backdrop of Cove Lake State Park reminds a visitor of the chilling and beautiful landscape of Wyoming and the Dakotas. Located in Caryville, Tennessee, just off of I-75, this park is a perfectly unique camping experience in Tennessee. While there, visitors can enjoy landscape photography and hikes on the Cumberland Trail to such destinations as Devil’s Racetrack- massive sandstone slabs protruding from the ground as upturned plates of bedrock (Photo Credit: J Phillips Photographic). 

Places to Stay: Come Lake has camping in addition to local hotels in the Caryville area. 

LEARN MORE


Reelfoot Lake State Park

Reelfoot Lake is located in the northwest corner of Tennessee. The 15,000-acre lake is unlike any other place in Tennessee because it is essentially a flooded forest. While it is a great place to visit year round, the winter offers some unique adventures for park guests. One of Reelfoot Lake's most popular attractions are the American bald eagles living there. While you can enjoy bald eagles year round, the best time to see the highest volume is in the winter. The park hosts the annual Eagle Festival in January and offers guided bus tours throughout January and February to help visitors find and enjoy these birds. The winter is also a great time to catch the lake in frozen splendor. During the coldest parts of the year, ice will form on top of the lake and on the cypress trees submerged in the water. Of course, all of this talk about cold weather and ice makes us want to cozy up next to a warm fireplace. Fortunately, the new cabins at Reelfoot Lake State Park offer first-class comfort and modern convenience. These pet-friendly accommodations have fantastic views and can sleep 6-10 people.

Places to Stay: Check out the cabins and campsites at Reelfoot Lake State Park.

LEARN MORE

About the author

Tennessee State Parks