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Most Tennessee state parks, House Mountain to begin reopening this Friday

The day-use opening will allow local visitors the chance to enjoy hiking, cycling and other outdoor recreation. Some facilities will stay closed.

TENNESSEE, USA — Most state parks will be open for day-use starting on Friday, April 24, between 7 a.m. and sunset. A full list will be updated here.

Visitors will have access to most trails, boat ramps, marinas, golf courses and other outdoor recreation opportunities.  

Playgrounds and other social gathering places will remain closed for now, along with park facilities and overnight accommodations.

Some restrooms will be open, but not all of them. With park facilities closed, you won't be able to be food or drinks, so you will need to bring your own.

"This day-use opening will allow local visitors the chance to enjoy hiking, cycling and other outdoor recreation," according to its website.

Officials have implemented policies designed to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and will monitor all aspects of the issue to ensure continued safety. 

They are urging visitors to do their part and stay apart, maintain proper social distancing and practice personal hygiene. 

They also ask that visitors:

  • Don't visit if you are sick or been around someone with COVID-19
  • Don't travel long distances. Look for parks that are a short drive from your home
  • Don't visit crowded areas. Access to some areas may be limited if there are too many people.
  • Only park in designated areas. If the parking lot is full, there are likely too many people there. Don't park along the shoulders of roads.
  • Follow all park rules and regulations, found here
  • Plan ahead and bring everything you will need
  • Take your trash with you or dispose of it in appropriate containers

UPDATE (Monday, April 20):

Gov. Bill Lee announced Tennessee State Parks will begin reopening Friday, April 24 after being closed for nearly half a month.

Specific details on which parks will reopen first haven't been announced yet, but will be eventually be announced on the State Parks' website at this link.

Knox Co. Parks and Rec announced that House Mountain will also reopen on Friday.

“We are eager to serve once again but we urge Tennesseans to continue to practice physical distancing when visiting parks,” Jim Bryson, deputy commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, said. “We have implemented policies designed to prevent the spread of COVID-19, and we will monitor all aspects of the issue to ensure safety among visitors and our staff.”

Parks are encouraging people to continue social distancing even after they reopen, saying people who are sick or do not feel well should stay at home and others should maintain at least 6 feet of distance between themselves and other visitors.

Tennessee State Parks said if parks begin getting too full, they may have to limit access. Many buildings will remain closed, including most restrooms

UPDATE (Tuesday, April 14):

Tennessee State Parks announced it is extending its closure of all state parks in Tennessee. 

The state said all parks will remain closed beyond the original April 14 date. The park system has not given a specific date on when they will reopen, but said they will notify the public as they monitor the latest with COVID-19.

“We are grateful for the cooperation and understanding of Tennesseans during this difficult period,” Jim Bryson, deputy commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, said. “We are extending closure of the parks in the interest of safety for everyone.”

UPDATE (Friday, April 3):

TDEC has announced it will be closing all 56 Tennessee state parks to the public starting Saturday, April 4 through at least Tuesday, April 14 in support of Governor Bill Lee's executive order requiring Tennesseans to stay at home unless it's for essential activities. 

Original Story (March 25):

In an effort to flatten the curve of COVID-19 while continuing to serve Tennesseans, Tennessee State Parks said it is encouraging residents not to travel, but to visit only their nearby parks. 

The park system is also announcing a series of operational changes effective Thursday, March 26.

Tennessee State Parks will transition to day-use schedules for all 56 state parks, opening daily from 7 a.m. - 6 p.m. The new schedule goes into effect on Thursday, March 26 and will be in place until at least Friday, April 10, according to a release from the state parks.

During this period, all public gathering spaces such as visitor centers, shelters and playgrounds at state parks will be closed, according to the parks. Parks cabins, lodges and campgrounds will be closed. 

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Officials said future reservations with arrival dates between now and Thursday, April 9 will be canceled. The parks will waive cancellation fees during this time.

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Camps catering to large groups will be closed during the same period. Golf courses and clubhouses in the parks will also be closed, according to the parks.

Parks events of greater than 10 people will be canceled or postponed, in accordance with Gov. Bill Lee’s Executive Order 17. All park-hosted events have been canceled through April 15. 

Restaurants, cafes and bars will remain closed until at least April 10, according to the release.

“Our state parks are part of the fabric of Tennessee communities and have been an important place of renewal during this crisis,” said Jim Bryson, deputy commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation. 

“The measures announced today will continue to provide healthy outdoor spaces for Tennesseans while providing more protection for our neighbors and our staff. We can do our part to flatten the curve of COVID-19 while continuing to provide open spaces when our neighbors need it most.”

Along with the new schedules and closures, Tennessee State Parks strongly encourage guests to practice social distancing and follow guidelines for hygiene while visiting the parks. 

Officials said limited restrooms and bathhouses remain open that will be cleaned based on established cleaning protocols in the parks.

Tennessee State Parks said it will continue to assess the implications of COVID-19 and will alert the public when dates are determined for the reopening of public facilities and overnight accommodations. 

For more information, visit the Tennessee State Parks website and visit its Keeping Visitors Healthy page.