Safe Fall Travel Planning in Tennessee State Parks
September 2, 2020 | Permalink
Each year the fall season brings new energy and excitement to our parks along with the changing leaves and cooler temperatures. The relief from hot summer days and the temporary chance to view the changing leaves annually draws visitors to our parks for day trips and overnight stays.
This year, Tennessee State Parks are open and ready to provide safe parks and overnight accommodations. Tennesseans and travelers from other states looking to enjoy the fall colors can do so in a Tennessee State Park. Our cabins, campgrounds and hotel rooms are the perfect destinations for safe, socially-distant vacations this fall.
Below you’ll find safety tips and resources that we encourage you to review to ensure a safe and enjoyable visit:
If you’re considering a trip to one of our parks, staying informed is the best way to prepare. Our Keeping Visitors Healthy Page is continuously updated with visitor safety tips and new information surrounding our visitor’s health and safety. If you have a question about a park or facility closure, visit our Closures Page. There you will find a map that indicates full and partial closures. You’ll find phone numbers for each of our parks, restaurants, and overnight accommodations on our website’s corresponding park page.
Consider Before Traveling
Before planning your visit to one of our parks, we encourage you to review a brief list of questions provided by the CDC that will help guide your decision to travel. The CDC recommends staying at least six-feet away from people outside of your household. This advice should be taken into consideration when arranging travel to a park. If you or someone within your household is experiencing symptoms of coronavirus, please stay home. For more traveling safety resources and answers to frequently asked questions, visit our COVID-19 and Travel page. We’ve also provided safety tips for planning and use throughout your trip here.
Maintain Social Distancing
Outdoors or inside a facility, we ask that you remain at least six feet away from people outside your household. When on the trail, we ask that you use trail etiquette and stay at least six feet away from trail users who are not in your party. Many trail users choose to have a mask available to put on when passing others in narrow areas.
Bring a Mask
Visitors are required to wear a mask in any state park facility staffed by employees or where the general public may congregate. This includes park offices, visitor centers, stores, nature centers, restrooms, or while touring any indoor facility being considered for rent. Visitors are required to follow the mask ordinances of the county they are in, or the park rules listed above, whichever are more stringent. If visitors do not have a mask, parks will maintain a small number of paper masks to provide to a visitor for their use.
Avoid The Crowds
There are a few things you should know when looking to avoid the crowds at our parks:
Tennessee State Parks, and the campgrounds inside our parks, are always less busy during the week. Planning a trip between Monday – Thursday opens up your options for available campsites.
Visiting earlier in a day can help you avoid crowds and allow time for you to change plans if a park or area is full. This is especially important for popular day-use destinations like waterfalls.
Seek out lesser-known parks. Generally speaking, the parks between Cookeville and Knoxville along I-40 are busier than other parks. Some parks we would recommend during the fall:
- Hiwassee/Ocoee (camping) - near Chattanooga
- Frozen Head (camping & backpacking) -near Crossville
- Pickett (camping & cabins) - near Kentucky
- Norris Dam (camping & cabins) - near Knoxville
- Chickasaw (camping & cabins) - near Jackson
- Meeman-Shelby Forest (camping & cabins) - near Memphis
- Natchez Trace (camping & cabins) - between Jackson and Nashville
- Fall colors begin changing in East Tennessee and move progressively west.
- That means the colors will change earlier in Upper East Tennessee than they do in West Tennessee.
- West Tennessee camping in late-October or early-November will showcase the beauty of Tennessee's fall colors with fewer crowds.
Tips for finding the least-busy campsites and cabins:
Statewide Search. Did you know you can search by date and accommodation type (ex: camping cabins) to see which parks have availability across the state? This is really helpful if you only have availability to travel during a certain time period. Once you narrow down the list, you can then see which sites or cabins are available at that particular park. Statewide filtering is available at reserve.tnstateparks.com.
Park-level Search. If you know the park you wish to visit, there are two options for seeing what sites or cabins are available at that particular park.
- Search by check-in and check-out date: you can search by date if you know exactly when you would like to visit. This is the more traditional way of searching for a reservation.
- Search in two-week increments: You can also use the “view park availability” option to see all availability at a particular park over a 14-day period. This view allows you to quickly find the accommodation you’re looking for while visualizing how full the park is for those dates.
Ready to Start Planning Your Trip?
Check out our “Can I stay overnight?” blog for FAQs and information about the types of accommodations you'll find in Tennessee State Parks. If you're ready to start building your perfect adventure, jump over to the Find a Park page to start filtering by accommodations, activities, and more. Or, head over to reserve.tnstateparks.com to book your campsite, cabin, or hotel room today.