Tennessee State Parks restricting use, but not closing

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Fall Creek Falls from Earl Ayers II

NASHVILLE (WDEF) – Tennessee State Parks are shortening hours and restricting usage during the COVID-19 pandemic.

But they are stopping short of shutting down parks.

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Officials are joining state health experts in discouraging us from travelling, but still encourage us to go to our local parks.

“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.

Instead, the parks are becoming day-use only, open from 7 AM – 6 PM.

Also visitor centers, shelters, playgrounds, cabins, lodges and campgrounds are being shutdown.

“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.”

The new restrictions go into affect on Friday and will last until at least April 10th.

The parks in our area that are affected are Booker T. Washington and Harrison Bay on Chickamauga Lake.

Also Red Clay in Bradley County, Hiwassee/Ocoee in Polk County, Cumberland Trail on Signal Mountain, plus South Cumberland and Fall Creek Falls on the Cumberland Plateau.

Georgia State Parks like Cloudland Canyon remain open, with limited access to buildings.

Alabama State Parks like DeSoto on Lookout Mountain also remain open, but warn about possible closings of facilities.

North Carolina has closed 14 of their state parks, but others remain open, including Gorges State Park on the Nantahala River (the closest to us).

The Great Smoky Mouuntain National Park has shutdown after visitors flocked to popular sites their last weekend.