Area Residents Flock to Parks, Lakes, and Festivals This Weekend

John M. Dabbs

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Parks near capacity Saturday.John Dabbs/Photographer

Parks Flooded

The parks are flooded this weekend in Northeast Tennessee as festival-goers and other residents support their local causes and get out to enjoy some much-needed rest, relaxation, and recreation.

Many of the local parks are at or near capacity as many residents flock to the mountains, lakes, and rivers in search of cool breezes and shade to enjoy the great outdoors. The Tri-Cities region is a prime spot for outdoor recreation in Tennessee. Bristol, Kingsport, and Johnson City all offer mountain bike trails, lake recreation, pavilions, and parks with plenty of shade.

The state parks in the area are also seeing a large influx of patrons. Roan Mountain State Park is one of the cooler, yet more remote parks, and is a favorite for those seeking a mountain getaway with cool streams and breezes. Warriors Path State Park, just outside of Kingsport, is one of the state’s most popular state parks. Its marina and beach area are always a hit with people who like to frequent Fort Patrick Henry Lake, where the park marina rents paddleboats, paddleboards, and kayaks for the enjoyment of the waters nearest and around the park. David Crockett Birthplace State Park, in Limestone, near the Greene County-Washington County line, doesn’t have lake access. What the park does have is the Nolichucky River running alongside the park, including the campground area. All of these parks have picnic shelters and camping with full RV hookups, and some primitive camping sites available.

The state park has decided to permanently close the swimming pools at these state parks, choosing not to reopen them after their temporary closure during the pandemic. The state cites excessive costs involved in bringing the pools back up to operational status with refurbishment or replacement of equipment and the facilities would be excessive. The parks service also says the park pools are no longer as popular as they once were, with private or municipal facilities picking up the slack in recent years.

The nature of the Tri-Cities residents is obvious when looking around of late. We see the population becoming more outdoor-focused with a trend toward recreation and fitness and less time spent lounging around the malls. Outdoor facilities in all eateries are picking up and have done well in the area, with many residents opting to eat outdoors when the seating is available – and the weather is cooperative.

Even shopping centers and malls have stores with an outdoor recreation theme or have suitable facilities to let patrons feel less enclosed lately. Many of us were saddened to see the closure of the Cabela’s store in Bristol, Virginia – even if the merchandise was absorbed into the Bass Pro Shops store at the Pinnacle development. I personally enjoyed having both stores, even if they shared the same corporate owner recently – but they didn’t ask me.

If you haven’t taken the time to get out and about yet, it’s high time you did. The mountains and lakes are calling and deserve your attention. We live in a beautiful area that many flocks to each year to enjoy. Perhaps we too should take more enjoyment of it than we often do.

The area is home to world-class trout streams, mountain bike parks, zip lines, caves, lakes, hiking trails, mountain streams, and waterfalls. The area is a prime site to practice outdoor photography with a focus on landscapes or people and portraits. Practice your drone or kite flying, model building, and so much more.

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An outdoor enthusiast with a passion for travel and adventure. John is a professional consultant and photojournalist.

Bristol, TN
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