Chimney Tops Trail

Fall color on Chimeny Tops Trail.

Wednesday afternoon, Tennessee State Parks announced a number of operational changes being made to combat COVID-19, including the closure of public spaces, a change in operational hours and the cancellation of all large events.

Many Tennesseans have used the state parks as a way to get outside amid coronavirus concerns and social distancing. Luckily, the parks will still be open for such reasons, but heavier restrictions will be placed upon them to help prevent any further spread of COVID-19 in Tennessee.

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

“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.”

Beginning March 26, all 56 state parks in Tennessee adopting new hours of operation. While the state parks are typical open one half-hour before sunrise to one half-hour after sunset, all parks will now be open from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. These hours will be in effect until at least April 10.

Additionally, all visitor centers, shelters, playgrounds and other public gathering places will be closed. Park cabins, campgrounds and lodges will also be closed. Those with reservations at any of these places will have cancellation fees waived. They will remain closed until at least April 9.

All events taking place at state parks that consist of groups of more than 10 people will also be canceled until April 15. Any restaurants, cafes and bars located in state parks will be closed until April 10.

Tennessee State Parks emphasized that those still looking to visit a state park during this time should not travel and go to the park nearest to them. While in the parks, social distancing is highly encouraged.

To find more information about Tennessee State Parks, Tennesseans can visit their website at tnstateparks.com and visit https://tnstateparks.com/about/keeping-visitors-healthy.

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