8 New Year’s Resolutions for the Outdoor Lover

December 19, 2022  |  Permalink

There’s something exciting about the blank slate of a new year. It's an invitation to be intentional about setting goals. Whether your goals are related to health, relationships, self-improvement, or something else entirely, we think the outdoors can help.

Here are eight ways you can pursue a healthy mind and body outside in the new year: 

Location: Rock Island State Park

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’ll witness how public lands protect endangered plants and wildlife. You'll learn about the 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 breathtaking 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.

Explore the Parks

Location: Carver's Gap on top of Roan Mountain near Roan Mountain State Park

Commit to a Regular Hiking Schedule

Set a goal to hit the trails at least on a regular basis. You could commit to hiking every month or as often as 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?

Explore Hiking

Location: Foster Falls at South Cumberland State Park | Photo by @bretter_rob on Instagram

Take One Day Each Quarter for a Personal Retreat

Maybe you can’t commit to hiking every month or visiting all 56 state parks, however, 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. You might even like it enough to do it more often!

Find a Park

Location: Harrison Bay State Park| Photo by Tennessee Tourism

Get a Trip on the Calendar 

Don’t just dream about camping this year, book the site now! By fully committing to an overnight trip in advance, you're much more likely to follow through. Plus, you’ll have something incredible to look forward to. We believe the very thought of committing to exploring will help your mind disconnect from the hustle and bustle. 

Overnight trips don’t just end with camping. Tennessee State Parks also offer luxury lodges and cozy cabins. With the ability to book up to a year in advance, you can get a trip on the books now and take advantage of a wider selection of dates and accommodations.

Plan Your Trip

Location: Foster Falls at South Cumberland State Park| Photo by Tennessee Tourism/Andrew Saucier

Bring a Trash Bag on Every Hike

While we encourage all park visitors to pack out and properly dispose of their trash, the unfortunate truth is people still leave garbage on our trails. Although it’s not your responsibility to pick up other hiker’s litter, it sure does feel good to give back. “Leaving it better than you found it” is a phrase that lots of outdoor lovers subscribe to. In this context, it means you’ll take the time out of your day to help the environment you love to explore.  

This year, commit to taking a trash bag and some rubber gloves with you on your outdoor adventures and picking up some of the trash you see. A dry pack makes a great washable and reusable alternative to plastic trash bags. If people stop to ask what you’re doing, spread the word!

Location: Edgar Evins State Park| Photo by @jessicanashhampton on Instagram

Meet New Outdoor Friends

Some people really enjoy solo adventures, 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? 

Explore Signature Hikes

Location: Savage Gulf State Park| Photo by @katestrickly on Instagram

Attend at Least One Park Program

We often stick to the outdoor activities we know. It can be intimidating and expensive to dive into a new activity, but it doesn’t have to be. Tennessee State Parks offer thousands of free and low-cost programs every year that will teach you about a variety of topics. Commit to trying at least one guided program this year! 

With expert program leaders and equipment rentals, you can advance in a new activity quickly and at a relatively low cost. Register for a guided backpacking trip, rent a kayak and hit the water, or learn a historic craft. The possibilities are almost endless.

View Events Calendar

Location: Rock Island State Park| Photo by ©Cumberland River Compact

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 the park experience. Will you be one of them this year? 

Donate & Volunteer

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