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About Tennessee State Parks

Our state parks are invaluable assets - a joy to all who use them now and a priceless legacy to hand down to future generations.

Meet our management team | Explore our strategic direction | View Parks Management Plans

Our Origin

Tennessee State Parks was established through legislation in 1937, and those laws, with modifications and additions over the years, remain the framework for park operations today.

"Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Tennessee, that for the purposes of the Tennessee Department of Conservation the term 'park' shall mean and include any and all areas of land, heretofore or hereafter acquired by the State, which by reason of having natural and historic features, scenic beauty or location, possesses, natural or potential physical, aesthetic, scientific, creative, social, or other recreational values; and is dedicated to and forever reserved and administered by the state for recreational and cultural use and enjoyment of the people.

"Be it further enacted, that every park under the provisions of this Act shall be preserved in a natural condition so far as may be consistent with its human use and safety and all improvements shall be of such character as not to lessen its inherent recreational value." (source: Tennessee Public Acts of 1937, Chapter No. 266, Sections 1 and 2.)

The primary purpose of state parks is to conserve natural, aesthetic, cultural, and historic resources, to provide opportunities for enjoying healthful outdoor recreation and to serve as outdoor classrooms for environmental and cultural resource education. Some state parks contain extensive infrastructure to provide the public with a quality recreational and educational experience to support those visitors seeking more comfortable accommodations.

Our Mission

The following Mission Statement guides Tennessee State Parks.

Mission: To preserve and protect, in perpetuity, unique examples of natural, cultural, and scenic areas and provide a variety of safe, quality, outdoor experiences through a well-planned and professionally managed system of state parks.

Our Values and Vision Statement

The Mission of Tennessee State Parks is based on the following values and vision.

Values and Vision Statement: There is inherent value in the natural environment. The observation and experience of natural things in a setting removed from the hectic world of the day-to-day can uplift and recreate the human spirit.

There is also value in physical reminders of the past. Without history, there is no context upon which to base an understanding of the present or dreams of the future.

Tennessee's natural and cultural resources provide perspective and continuity to our lives to help make us whole. The intrinsic worth of these resources is beyond monetary consideration. Even if a person cannot travel to a state park, there is value in knowing that these special places exist and will be protected for future generations to experience.

These places are so valued that we intend to preserve and protect them, even in the face of whatever may be the fashion of the moment, to the end that all citizens, rich or poor, may enjoy them forever.


Parks Management Plans