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The National Parks of Tennessee, The Volunteer State

Tennessee is the land of the blues, Elvis, and whiskey. It’s home to the muddy waters of the mighty Mississippi that roll to the rhythm and groove of Beale Street in the heart of Memphis. Its verdant green forests are just miles from the neon-washed honky tonks of Nashville’s Broadway Avenue. And, its Day-Glo orange-clad college football fans sing “Rocky Top” so loudly it echos off the Smoky Mountains. The great state of Tennessee vibrates with music, agriculture, and commerce.

The Volunteer State has some of the most beautiful National Parks our country has to offer. Highlighting the storied history of the South, battles were waged, movements started, and the unbelievable lineage of American music – from blues to soul to rock n’ roll and country – all found in the 16th state in the Union.

Explore the beauty and history of Tennessee as you cruise along Interstate 40:

Cumberland Gap National Historic Park: More than just a good name-check from every bar band in America’s favorite Bob Dylan song, the Cumberland Gap was the first “gateway to the west” during the settling of the U.S., and this National Park preserves its legacy and beauty for all who visit. There are countless things to do in this natural, southern wonderland: explore a cave, hike the nearly 85 miles of trails following the hundreds of thousands who crossed the Appalachians on their way west centuries ago, or camp under the great bowl of Tennessee stars. Visitors can even stand in three states at once. A true must-visit!

Photo Courtesy NPS

Obed Wild And Scenic River: A long-ago hub of activity, spurred not by the fertile farmland that covers much of Tennessee but instead by the abundant fishing, hunting, and trading opportunities it provided, the Obed River and its surrounding areas remains largely untouched by the modern world as it was in the 18th century. Sporting some of the most beautiful scenic waterfalls in the area and a few of the more challenging rapids for kayakers and rafters alike, the Obed River Scenic area is still as wild as the name suggests. Fishing, hiking, climbing, bouldering, and camping are among the more popular activities at this National Park gem!

Photo Courtesy NPS

Stones River National Battlefield: Due in large part to its position geographically, the state of Tennessee was a constant and vital battleground in many a conflict, most notably during the War Between The States from 1861–1865, and this National Battlefield memorializes one of the bloodiest early battles of the Civil War. With the Union Army faltering and desperate need of a victory toward the end of 1862, General William S. Rosencrans’ army left Nashville to meet the Confederates about 30 miles south, which began the infamous Stones River Campaign. This campaign would start to shape the war in a new way and remake the region for years to come. Stop in and learn more about the brave sacrifice of the soldiers and citizens at this historic location. 

Photo Courtesy NPS

Great Smoky Mountains National Park: No trip to Tennessee would be complete without visiting one of its main attractions: The Great Smoky Mountains. So named for the early morning fog that creeps in before the sun and hangs around until mid-morning on most days, the Smokies are as inviting as they are wild. One could get lost in the magical wonder of the deep, lush forests, rolling rivers, the stone plateaus, and the crystal clear skies. Journeyers love to camp out under the stars to the chorus of the crickets and bullfrogs singing visitors to sleep. An exceptional place, protected and preserved in immortality at this incredible Tennessee National Park!

Photo Courtesy NPS

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