Would You Rather: Choose Your Fall Adventures

May 26, 2022  |  Permalink

The mountains, valleys, and plains inside Tennessee State Parks come alive with vibrant colors and fresh new adventures each fall. While you may visit during the fall to experience the changing foliage, you’ll also be delighted to find cooler temperatures and fewer bugs that make exploring more comfortable. From feeling the crisp fall air from the top of a mountain or the cool mist of a waterfall to warming up by the campfire or getting cozy in a cabin, there’s something for everyone to enjoy at Tennessee State Parks this fall. Answer the questions below to find fall adventures that fit your style.

Camping or Glamping?

Camping: Pitch your tent on the shores of the Tennessee River at Mousetail Landing State Park, enjoy full RV hookups and lake views at Natchez Trace State Park, or backpack to set up camp near the base of a waterfall at Virgin Falls. Choose from over 3,000 campsites across Tennessee on mountains, near rivers, and by lakes. Use the filters on our map to find the perfect campsite for your ideal adventure.


Glamping: Want the feeling of camping with the comforts of air conditioning and the convenience of a cabin? Camping cabins at Paris Landing and Natchez Trace State Park are your ticket to glamping at Tennessee State Parks. These unique cabins have the bare necessities you’ll need for a comfortable night outdoors while preserving the rustic experience that camping provides.


Sunrise or Stargazing?

Sunrise: Tennessee State Parks offer sunrises worth waking up to see. Catch a fiery sunrise from the porch of a cabin at Reelfoot Lake State Park. Watch the sunrise over Lake Acorn while sipping coffee on the outdoor patio at the Lodge at Montgomery Bell. Head over to buzzard’s Roost at Fall Creek Falls State Park for a sunrise over the valley. Take in the Nashville city illuminated by the rising sun from Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park.

Stargazing: Dark skies are increasingly difficult to find, but Tennessee State Parks offer some of the best opportunities for stargazing in the state. Catch a double feature at Harrison Bay State Park's campground by watching the sunset out over the water on the eastern bank, and follow that up with a stargazing encore. Gaze up at certified dark skies at Pickett CCC Memorial State Park. Set up camp under a blanket of stars at Big Hill Pond State Park. Practice your nighttime photography by capturing the stars hanging over the lake at Edgar Evins State Park.

Please Note: As a general rule, our parks and trails close around sunset. If you want to see the stars you’ll need to spend the night (by reserving a campsite, cabin, or lodge room) or register for a stargazing program at one of our parks.


Wifi or Unplugged?

Wifi: It may surprise you that some Tennessee State Parks offer wifi. While the outdoors provide an escape from constant connection, wifi can enable you to spend more time at a park. If can perform work or school remotely with a wifi connection, there’s less holding you back from saying yes to a trip outdoors. Some parks that offer wifi include Montgomery Bell, Fall Creek Falls, Henry Horton, Chickasaw, and Harrison Bay.

Unplugged: All of our parks offer the opportunity to disconnect and tune into nature, but if you’re looking for a truly unplugged experience, check out our tent camping and backcountry camping options. These campsites tend to be less developed and offer an authentic outdoor experience. Note: Before booking a backcountry site, make sure you have the gear and skills to reach that site and return safely.


Cook Your Food or Dine at a Restaurant?

Cook your food: There’s something uniquely satisfying about cooking outdoors. The food almost tastes better when mixed with fresh air and an open flame. Whether you’re at a campsite cooking over a gas stove, in the backcountry cooking over the fire, or at a picnic spot grilling out on a charcoal grill, there are many ways to dine outdoors. You can even rent a pavilion and host a cookout with friends and family.


Dine at a Restaurant: Eight Tennessee State Parks have restaurants located within the park grounds. All eight of these parks also have overnight accommodations, making meals easier for travelers. Whether you’re visiting the park on a day trip, posted up at a campsite, or spending a few nights in a cabin or lodge, you can dine in or pick up some fresh eats from our restaurants.


Mountains or Lakes?

Mountains: From camping in the Cumberland Mountains at Frozen Head State Park to exploring the incredible views at Roan Mountain State Park, there are plenty of peaks to summit at Tennessee State Parks. Peak fall foliage in the mountains of east Tennessee happens first each year, followed by middle and west Tennessee. While the timing of peak season varies from year to year, it’s common for leaves in east Tennessee to begin changing color in early October and peak around the third week of the month.


Lakes: The reflection of vibrant fall colors bouncing off still lake waters is something everyone should see in their lifetime. There are lakes in every region of Tennessee that offer incredible views and water activities such as paddling, fishing, and boating. Some of our parks, such as Edgar Evins, offer fall color pontoon tours. These ranger-led boat tours allow you to observe fall foliage from a new perspective while learning more about the natural world. 


Campfire or Fireplace?

Campfire: Crisp nights around the campfire listening to the sounds of nature and roasting marshmallows are what fall dreams are made of. Almost all campsites have fire pits, and certified heat-treated firewood is available at most park visitor centers or camp stores. Some cabins also offer outdoor fire pits for those nights that are too nice to stay indoors.


Fireplace: If you’re looking for a cozy night on the couch curled up with a hot drink listening to the crackling fire, our cabins can deliver. Tennessee State Parks offers over 300 cabins to choose from across the state, from historic to modern. Many historic cabins received restorations in 2020 at parks like Standing Stone, Norris Dam, Cumberland Mountain, and Pickett CCC Memorial State Park. These restorations included new appliances and furnishings that have elevated the comfort of the experience while preserving the historic charm. You’ll also find fireplaces at our lodges in the comfortable common areas.


History or Adventure?

History: History buffs will feel right at home exploring some of our historic parks and the many museums and exhibits across all Tennessee State Parks. From taking a ranger-led tour of the decorated Sergeant Alvin C. York’s home to exploring the town of Port Royal on your own, you’ll learn something new and gain a greater appreciation of history.


Adventure: Looking for some thrills? You’ll find no shortage of those at Tennessee State Parks. The type of adventure you chase will depend on your style. Hiking is the most popular activity at Tennessee State Parks and is the most accessible. All Tennessee State Parks have hiking trails, and they vary in length, difficulty, and scenic features. Backpacking, mountain biking, and paddling are also fantastic ways to enjoy the fall season at our parks.


About the author