Discover Tennessee's Natural State
From caves and canyons to swimming holes, celebrate the Tennessee State Parks 75th Anniversary by taking your family out for a week — or weekend — of fun
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Want to learn more about Tennessee's storied past? Start by discovering Davy Crockett, the famous frontiersman who died at the Alamo Mission in 1836. Crockett was a Tennessee native and two state parks celebrate his life. You can visit his log home at the Davy Crockett Birthplace State Park in Limestone, Tennessee (8 hours away). On June 9th and 10th, the park hosts the Appalachian Heritage Fair.
Closer to home, the David Crockett State Park in Lawrenceburg (3.5 hours away), where Crockett served as a justice of the peace and state representative, has a museum that highlights Crocket’s entrepreneurial spirit — he developed a grist mill, powder mill, and distillery here — as well as his political life. Check out the park’s newly opened, LEED-certified cabins that look over Lake Lindsey. They’re beautiful and worth a stay.
You can combine nature and history at Pickwick Landing State Park (2.5 hours away) on the banks of the picturesque Tennessee River, and just downriver from Pickwick Dam. This 1,400-acre park, which began as a camp for Tennessee Valley Authority dam workers, boasts a modern lodge, cabins, a swimming pool, sandy beaches for river swimming, and a marina. Be sure to check out the family backpack at the lodge; included are binoculars, field guides, a compass and more, perfect for a day of hiking.
From Pickwick, several sites will give your family an appreciation for Tennessee’s role in the Civil War. This year marks Tennessee’s celebration of the sesquicentennial — 150 years. Eight miles away is Shiloh Military National Park. This expansive park has a host of monuments to the men who fought here, but check out the visitor’s center first. It features the new film Shiloh, Fiery Trial, which debuted on the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Shiloh in early April, and details this historic, two-day battle. One-hour east is Big Hill Pond State Park with Civil War-era earthen works and challenging mountain bike trails. Other Civil War state parks include Fort Pillow, Johnsonville, and N.B. Forrest. — Jane Schneider