COVID-19 UPDATES: Keeping Visitors Healthy

New Goals for the New Year

December 24, 2019  |  Permalink

New Year’s Day is coming, and with it the urge to make life-changing resolutions. This New Year is especially important because it ushers in the 2020s. Many of us will look at our work, our families, and our lives to find ways we can grow into better versions of ourselves over the next year and decade. Those of us caught in the grind of office jobs and constant connectivity might decide to step away more often. We might power down the electronics to find quiet and rest. Many of us will feel the impact of holiday meals, office parties and all those sweet treats. We will make commitments to improve our health and our waistlines. Whatever your commitment, whatever self-improvement you desire, we think the outdoors can help.

Here are a few ways you can pursue a healthy mind and body outside in 2020:

Set a goal to visit all 56 state parks

Did you know that Tennessee State Parks are free to visit? We’re one of only seven states that do not charge admission fees. If we had one desire over the next decade, it is for you to visit each of these places. Not only will you find a breath of fresh air. Visiting these natural, cultural and historic sites will give you perspective. You would see how public lands protect endangered plants and wildlife. You’ll learn about people groups and individuals who formed the fabric of our country. You’ll have the chance to behold the majesty of the night sky at one of the darkest places in the Southeast. You’ll experience breath-taking views and quiet waters.

Yet, it’s not just what you’ll find inside our parks that will change you. You will gain a greater appreciation for the state of Tennessee. From major metros to rural communities, you’ll find beautiful people and places at every turn. You’ll see the rich and diverse cultures of West, Middle and East Tennessee. (Photo: Rock Island State Park)


Make plans to hike one time per week

Set a goal to hit the trails at least once every week. Even if you visit the same park, or walk the very same path, the act of stepping into the woods will change you. The sunshine will improve your mood. The clean air will clear your mind. You’ll chuckle at the scampering squirrels. You’ll have moments of childlike surprise when you hear the drumming of a woodpecker or see deer and turkey roaming through the forests. We’ve heard it said that, “Small things, applied consistently and over long periods of time, also lead to massive success.” Why not let hiking be one of those small things over the next year or decade? (Photo: Carver's Gap on top of Roan Mountain near Roan Mountain State Park)


Take one day each quarter for a personal retreat

Maybe you can’t hike every week. Maybe you can’t commit to visiting all 56 state parks. We think you should commit to finding at least one day each quarter – 4 days this year – to head outdoors. It doesn’t have to cost you anything. You can do something as simple as taking a hike. But what if you did more? What if you planned a fishing or hunting trip to West Tennessee? What if you hit a few balls on a driving range? What if you headed to a place like Roan Mountain and took in the breathtaking views of the Appalachian Mountains? What if you spent the day chasing as many waterfalls as possible? There are so many great things to do and places to explore. We believe the very thought of committing to explore will help your mind disconnect from the hustle and bustle. You might even like it enough to do it more often! (Photo: Foster Falls at South Cumberland State Park courtesy of


Meet new outdoor friends

Some people really enjoy the solo adventure, but that’s not true for everyone. Maybe your idea of rest involves meeting new people and seeing new places. A great way to find a new hiking buddy is to attend one of our signature hikes. We host these free, guided events at every park on five different days of the year. Thousands of visitors join us for New Year’s Day, Spring Hikes, National Trails Day, National Public Lands Day, and the Day After Thanksgiving hikes. Will this be your year to join us?

Earn points and rewards for healthy living

We know you are committed to improving yourself if you have read this far. No one said you had to do it alone or without incentive though! That’s why the Healthy Parks Healthy Person program is so great. Sign up on the webpage and start keeping tracking of your healthy decisions to head outdoors. You’ll earn points for many of the activities you’re planning to do this year to improve your health. You can then redeem those points for some great gifts. (Photo courtesy of


Find a way to give back

As we mentioned before, Tennessee State Parks are free to enter. That means we depend on people spending money with us (renting campsites, cabins, etc.), General Fund dollars raised through sales taxes, and donations from our supporters. If parks are already an important part of your life, maybe this is the year you consider giving back. Many people will volunteer their time or contribute money to help improve trails and enhance the experience and programs we offer to visitors. Will you be one of them this year?


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Tennessee State Parks