The fact that outdoor recreation is so enormously popular in Tennessee and throughout America is not surprising. We love to get outside and pursue countless kinds of activities, whether for fun, health, competition or family and social interaction. And not only is recreating outdoors extremely important and popular for these reasons, we now know that it is a vital contributor to our local, state and national economies. Following are a few of the great parks in our region developed specifically for the above purposes. Visiting them often is good for you; it’s good for your family and it’s good for our communities!

Buffalo Mountain Park

Buffalo is a 725-acre Johnson City park with a mountainside picnic area and a well-developed hiking trail system. The moderate to strenuous trails lead to high ridges and excellent views of NE Tennessee and the western Blue Ridge Mountains. Located in south JC.


Roan Mountain State Park

Roan is one of the area’s premier parks. Here you’ll find camping, swimming, fishing, hiking, biking, picnicking and more. Roan’s idyllic 2,ooo acres are located in the community of Roan Mountain, at the base of the famous Roan Highlands area.


Lamar Alexander–Rocky Fork State Park

Known locally as simply Rocky Fork, this is one of Tennessee’s newest state parks. Its forested 2,000 acres remain wild and undeveloped, offering more of a wilderness experience than any state park in the state. Located in southern Unicoi County, just off I-26.


Bays Mountain Park

A Kingsport city park located minutes from downtown. See the entry under BIKING.


Warrior’s Path State Park

There’s a lot to do on this park’s 950 acres, including camping, boating, hiking, horseback riding, golfing, mountain biking and more. Located in Kingsport, Warrior’s is well known for its award-winning nature programs, which are popular with visitors of all ages.


Steele Creek Park

Hiking, biking and trail running are three of the main activities for which folks love this 2,200-acre Bristol park, but there’s much more to discover and experience for all kinds of outdoor enthusiasts. Located in Bristol, TN 


Winged Deer Park

At approximately 200 acres, this Johnson City park has something for virtually everyone, on both the outdoor and athletic sides of recreation. For team sports there are multiple facilities for softball, soccer and volleyball. For the more adventurous there are hiking and mountain biking trails, a disc golf course and a large lake access area adjacent to Boone Lake.


Sycamore Shoals State Historic Park

This park, located in Elizabethton, sits on the same land where key events and actions related to the very founding of America took place. In fact, Tennessee’s official State Outdoor Drama, Liberty!, is produced and presented here each summer. Visitors will find an interesting historical museum, beautiful grounds for walking, running and picnicking, as well as access to the adjacent Watauga River.


David Crockett Birthplace State Park

This park is on the very site of the birthplace of early America’s famous pioneer, politician, and soldier, David “Davy” Crockett. Camping, hiking, swimming, fishing and picnicking facilities await visitors to this unique TN park. Situated on 105 rural acres along the Nolichucky River in Limestone.

Photo and text by David Ramsey

Like this article? Share it with your friends.