Make a one-tank trip to celebrate state parks 75th anniversary

Make a one-tank trip to celebrate state parks 75th anniversary

Updated:
Big Ridge State Park Big Ridge State Park
Norris Dam State Park (source: Tennessee State Parks) Norris Dam State Park (source: Tennessee State Parks)
Pickett State Park (source: Tennessee State Parks) Pickett State Park (source: Tennessee State Parks)
Davy Crockett Birthplace State Park (source: Tennessee State Parks) Davy Crockett Birthplace State Park (source: Tennessee State Parks)
Frozen Head State Park (source: Tennessee State Parks) Frozen Head State Park (source: Tennessee State Parks)

By JULYA JOHNSON
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - There are many vacations you can enjoy in East Tennessee that only use one tank of gas. 

Since a Tennessee State Park is within an hour's drive of nearly every town in the state, you're only a short drive away from an outdoor experience that's mostly free.

"This year is the 75th Anniversary of Tennessee State Parks so we are really putting our shine on," says Big Ridge State Park Ranger Sarah Nicely. The park is on TVA's Norris Reservoir, about 25 miles north of Knoxville

She knows that it will take a lot to outshine the 2009 season. That year, the state parks won the award for best system in the nation.

Each park has similar features like camping, nature trails and ranger-lead programs. They also all have free admission.

However, the parks do offer different attributes to draw you in for a vacation.

For example, Big Ridge has a 49-acre lake, with rustic cabins on the lakeshore. "The cabins are fully stocked with linens and utensils, sleeping arrangements for up to six people, full kitchens, full baths, screened in porch," Nicely said.

The amenities the cabins don't have are air conditioning, televisions and phones.

The rustic vibe of Big Ridge is exactly what a father and son, Steve and Jacob Creasy, were looking in a getaway.

"We go out and enjoy each other's company, enjoy nature, and enjoy God's creation. It's wonderful," Creasy said.

"The best part is when the Mom says, 'Okay, turn everything off. No phones, no video games, we're going to go play,'" Nicely added.

For those looking for a more modern cabin, you can find a deluxe unit at nearby Norris Dam State Park on the Norris Reservoir. Those  cabins boast color television, heat and air conditioning.

If you're looking for a unique memory, head up to Pickett State Park in Jamestown to discover the glow worms on a ranger-guided night hike to Hazard Cave. The little critters light up the earth to mimic the night sky. This is one of the only places in the world you can see them outside of New Zealand.

History buffs will want to visit Davy Crockett Birthplace State Park along the Nolichucky River in Greene County. "They have one of the prettiest picnic spots in the state," Nicely said.

If you love nature trails, you'll want to head to Morgan County to discover the over 13,000 acres for forest, streams and waterfalls at Frozen Head State Park in Wartburg.

In fact, there are well over 50 state parks in Tennessee. "Each park is offering a 75th anniversary event," Nicely said. "Big Ridge is combining ours with our annual bluegrass festival."

The parks also offer many free ranger-lead actives including wildflower hikes, nature presentations and a Junior Ranger program for children.

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