Winter Adventures to Experience in Tennessee

December 1, 2022  |  Permalink

A girl stands underneath a large rock house

The winter season transforms the beautiful state of Tennessee into a spectacular landscape full of adventure. Your chance to experience cross-country skiing, frozen waterfalls, and cozy cabins across the state starts with Tennessee State Parks. Take the first step towards planning a winter to remember by checking out this list of incredible state park adventures. 

West Tennessee

Sunset over a lake during winterPhoto by Holly Taylor

Meeman-Shelby Forest State Park

Can’t decide between a rejuvenating cabin retreat and an eventful city excursion? The best of both exists at gorgeous Meeman-Shelby Forest State Park, 30 minutes outside the bustle of downtown Memphis. This 12,000+ acre park offers lakeside cabins with the coziest log fireplaces. Balance hiking at the park with a walk around the National Civil Rights Museum and birdwatching by the lake with a trip to the Memphis Zoo. Incredible restaurants are also nearby for those nights you could go for some takeout BBQ.  

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Bald Eagle near the lake

Reelfoot Lake State Park  

Viewing a Bald Eagle in the wild is an incredible sight many haven’t experienced in their lifetime. During January and February at Reelfoot Lake, hundreds of Bald Eagles can be seen perching, soaring, and snatching fish from the flooded cypress forest. The park’s experienced naturalists lead daily tours that allow you to observe the eagles and waterfowl while learning about the natural and cultural history of the wildlife and area. The spacious lakefront cabins offer gas fireplaces and porches primed for sunrise viewing. It’s the perfect recipe for a vacation filled with unforgettable memories.  

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Middle Tennessee

A large building shines light on a lake during blue hour

Montgomery Bell State Park  

Say “so long” to the tired idea that vacationing surrounded by thousands of acres of pristine woods and lakes means roughing it. At Montgomery Bell State Park, you can enjoy the natural beauty of winter while staying warm and comfortable. The park’s lodge offers 117 lakefront guest rooms, a full-service restaurant and bar, fitness room, and comfortable lounge areas. Grab a craft cocktail from the bar and cozy up by the grand fireplace, or head out for a hike on over 20 miles of trails. Plus, with Nashville only 40 minutes east, you can explore the city and be back for s’mores the same night. (The lodge offers s’more trays for the outdoor fireplace!)  

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A tall frozen waterfall

Fall Creek Falls State Park  

Possibly the most ideal destination for a winter getaway, Fall Creek Falls has it all. Boasting the tallest waterfall east of the Mississippi, this park is full of thrill-seeking adventures and relaxing facilities. Hike across suspension bridges, visit over four stunning waterfalls, sip cocktails, and relax after a long day with lake views. The park’s lodge offers 85 guest rooms, a full-service restaurant and bar, and two firepits. Those looking to spend more time outdoors will enjoy full hookups for RVs at the campground. No matter where you spend the night, you’ll leave with a new perspective on just how diverse and beautiful the Tennessee landscape is.  

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East Tennessee

A mountain view covered in snow at sunset

Roan Mountain State Park  

If skiing on snowcapped mountains and relaxing at a cozy pizza kitchen sound like your ideal day, set your sights on Roan Mountain State Park. This park sits right below the majestic peaks of Roan Mountain in a valley that, during winter, is often covered in a fresh blanket of snow. The park offers cozy cabins with wood-burning stoves within earshot of the gorgeous Doe River. Near the park, you’ll find unique shops, breweries, and restaurants like Smokey Mountain Bakers and Woodfired Pizza, located four minutes away. *At the top of the mountain during snowy conditions, you can enjoy cross-country skiing and snowshoeing with incredible views.
*Check the forecast before planning, as access is sometimes limited at the top of the mountain if the snow or ice is too heavy. The top of the mountain is National Forest property.  

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A man stands on a large rock formation during winterPhoto by Jeremy Rasnic

Pickett CCC Memorial State Park  

One of the most unique landscapes in Tennessee, Pickett CCC Memorial State Park is home to incredible rock formations you won’t see anywhere but the Cumberland Plateau. The thick rhododendron bushes keep the landscape scattered with green foliage, which looks especially striking after a snowfall. Explore caves, waterfalls, canyons, and some of the darkest skies in the south. A unique array of cabins is available, from historic stone with wood-burning fireplaces to modern with gas fireplaces. Finish your trip with a visit to nearby Pogue Creek Canyon State Natural Area, where you can enjoy sweeping views of the vast canyons.  

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