Everyone has heard of Rock Island State Park and Burgess Falls, but Tennessee has over 50 state parks and natural areas that don’t get enough lovin’. We went through and scoured the list, found the best spots that get sloughed off during the prettier months of the year. How many have you visited…? Or do you have a couple to add to that bucket list of yours?
10. Big Ridge State Park
Located just over half an hour north of Knoxville, Big Ridge is defined by its sharp, steep ridges and its stream-filled valleys. Originally developed by the TVA as an example of how their lakes could double as recreation areas, Big Ridge now has more than 15 miles of trails and 50 campsites.
9. Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park
Built in Nashville to celebrate Tennessee's bicentennial in 1996, the mall is dominated by the State Capitol overlooking the park from the South. The park boasts a WWII memorial, a full Carillon bell tower, and various other tributes to the Tri-Star State.
8. Cove Lake State Park
Cove Lake sits on the eastern side of the Cumberland Plateau, giving it stunning views. The park boasts 106 campsites, 6 rentable picnic pavilions, and an 11-mile stretch of the famous Cumberland Trail. Located about 45 minutes northwest of Knoxville, it's the perfect getaway for Central and Eastern Tennesseans.
7. David Crockett State Park
Located about an hour and a half South of Nashville, this park has a lot of history to it. It's the actual site of Davy Crockett's powder mill, gristmill, and distillery that he owned and operated. The buildings are no longer there, but the park now has a paved biking trail and more than 6 miles of trails along the bluffs of scenic Shoal Creek.
6. Dunbar Cave State Park
Just outside of downtown Clarksville, Dunbar Cave is a great example of Tennessee's many limestone caves. The cave was used for thousands of years by Native Americans, and was used in the last century as a venue for square dances, radio shows, and music concerts. Cave tours are offered from May through August, making it the perfect way to cool off in the summer.
5. Edgar Evins State Park
Perfect for the boating enthusiast, Edgar Evins is located on pristine Center Hill Lake, about an hour East of Nashville. There's also condo-style cabins for those looking for a getaway and 12 miles of hiking for the nature enthusiasts. Don't forget the butterfly garden with more than 30 species of native Tennessee plants that have drawn over 35 species of butterflies.
4. Norris Dam State Park
Norris Dam has historical significance because it was the first project undertaken by the Tennessee Valley Authority. The park is great for boating -- you can bring your own or rent one of a variety of boats at the marina. You can also stay in one of their cabins, originally constructed by the CCC in the 1930s.
3. Indian Mountain State Park
This park name is a little misleading -- the park itself actually sits at the base of the mountain, right on the Kentucky border, about an hour north of Knoxville. What makes Indian Mountain State Park unique? It used to be a strip mine but was converted to a recreational area in the 1960s.
2. Standing Stone State Park
Located on the Cumberland Plateau, standing stone is named after a 12-foot-tall rock that used to stand on a sandstone ledge in the park and was used by local Native American nations to define their borders. The stone has since fallen and is now preserved in nearby Monterey, but the park is there to commemorate its significance and history. This park is actually famous for its annual marble tournament, which draws competitive marble enthusiasts from across the globe.
1. Natchez Trace State Park
Just to be clear, Natchez Trace State Park is not the park that has the famous Natchez Trace bridge. This park is located about half an hour outside of Jackson on an old, alternate rout of the original Natchez Trace. This park is perfect for those looking to hit the trail -- they have over 250 miles of horse riding trails, and a 40-mile overnight trail for the serious backpack campers.