Area residents flock to parks, lakes and festivals this weekend | John M. Dabbs


Flooded parks

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

Many 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 area is a prime location for outdoor recreation in Tennessee. Bristol, Kingsport and Johnson City all offer mountain biking trails, lakeside recreation, pavilions and lots of shaded parkland.

State parks in the area are also experiencing a large influx of patrons. Roan Mountain State Park is one of the cooler, yet more remote parks, and is a favorite for those looking for a mountain getaway with streams and cool breezes. Warriors Path State Park, just outside of Kingsport, is one of the most popular state parks in the state. Its marina and beach are always a hit with people who like to hang out at Fort Patrick Henry Lake, where the park’s marina rents pedal boats, paddle boards, and kayaks to enjoy the waters closest to and around the park. David Crockett Birthplace State Park in Limestone near the Greene County-Washington County border does not have access to the lake. What the park has is the Nolichucky River which runs along the park including the camping area. All of these parks have picnic shelters and camping with full RV hookups, and some primitive campsites are available.

The state park has decided to permanently close the pools at these state parks, choosing not to reopen them after they were temporarily closed during the pandemic. The state cites excessive costs to restore pools to working order with refurbishment or replacement of equipment and facilities would be excessive. The parks department also says the park’s pools aren’t as popular as they once were, with private or municipal facilities taking over in recent years.

The nature of the residents of the Tri-Cities is evident when we look around us lately. We see the population focusing more on the outdoors with a trend towards recreation and fitness and less time spent lounging in malls. Outdoor facilities at all restaurants are resuming and have worked well in the area, with many residents choosing to eat outdoors when seating is available – and the weather is cooperative.

Even malls and malls have outdoor recreation themed stores or have proper facilities to make customers feel less cooped up lately. Many of us were saddened to see the closure of Cabela’s store in Bristol, Va. – even though the merchandise was absorbed by the Bass Pro Shops store in the Pinnacle development. I personally enjoyed having both stores, even though they shared the same business owner recently – but they didn’t ask me.

If you haven’t taken the time to get around yet, now is the time to do so. The mountains and the lakes call you and deserve your attention. We live in a beautiful area that many flock to each year to enjoy. Perhaps we too should enjoy it more 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 region is a privileged site to practice outdoor photography with an emphasis on landscapes or people and portraits. Practice your drone or kite, model building and much more.


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