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Tennessee State Parks Policies

A Breath Of Fresh Air...
Learn more: Link to Smokefree Tennessee
Link to Commissioner's Letter

The Tennessee Non-smokers Protection Act went into effect October 1, 2007. All state park inn rooms, cabins, restaurants, visitors centers, meeting rooms, restrooms, lobbies, reception areas, hallways and other common-use areas are now smoke-free.
Thank you for helping us make the transition to a smoke-free environment.

(Note: this is not intended to be a complete list of all State Parks rules and regulations. For the complete set of rules and regulations governing Tennessee State parks, please visit https://www.cleanairtn.org/sos/rules/0400/0400-02/0400-02.htm)

Alcoholic Beverages | Boating | Camping | Dogs, Cats and Other Pets
Firearms/Weapons | Fires | Fishing | Preservation of Public Property
Saddle and Pack Animals | Smoking | Swimming/Bathing | Wildlife; Hunting

Alcoholic Beverages

  • Except in facilities that are licensed to sell alcoholic beverages, consumption of alcoholic beverages within state park areas that are open to the general public is forbidden.
  • Except in facilities that are licensed to sell alcoholic beverages, the public display of any container of alcoholic beverages is prohibited within state park areas that are open to the general public.

Boating

Camping

  • Camping and the use of trailers or other camper units is permitted only at designated location: provided, however, that the Superintendent may issue written permits to persons desiring to camp in backcountry, or other isolated sections of a park area, or may designate portions of the park area in which such permits will not be required by marking on a map which shall be available for public inspection in the Park Offices.
  • Within designated locations, the pitching of tents or parking of trailers or other camper units is permitted only at the sites designated.
  • The Director and/or Superintendent may establish limitations on the length of time persons may camp within a park area, either in a single period or in combined separate periods. Such limitations shall be posted at campgrounds, ranger stations, or other appropriate locations.
  • The installation of permanent camping facilities is prohibited.
  • The digging or leveling of the ground at any campsite is prohibited.
  • Camping equipment must be completely removed and camping sites cleaned by campers before departure.
  • Quiet shall be maintained in all campgrounds between the hours of 10:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m.
  • The gathering of wood for use as fuel in campgrounds or picnic areas shall be limited to dead material on the ground, except where such gathering is prohibited by the Superintendent by the posting of appropriate signs.

Dogs, cats and other pets

Dogs, cats and other pets are prohibited unless they are crated, caged or on a leash, or otherwise under physical restrictive control at all times. Pets are prohibited in park inns or cabins (except where rooms and/or cabins have been designated for pets, see specific information below), lodges, public eating places, food stores, and on designated swimming beaches and pools at all times.

The superintendent may also designate, by the posting of appropriate signs on trails and other portions of the park, areas where pets are not permitted. This prohibition does not apply to service animals.

Inn and Cabins:
In an effort to make your stay more enjoyable, Tennessee's State Parks offer a limited number of inn rooms and one cabin at each park for guests who travel with their pets. We highly recommend you reserve these designated rooms several weeks in advance. Guests making cash payments for their stay will be required to make a minimal deposit. Please call the park in advance for more information.

Here are a few things you should know before arriving at the park.

  • Effective October 2004 - There is a $10 per pet charge per night.
  • Park Management reserves the right to prohibit any pet on the premises that may pose a risk to our guests or staff.
  • Rooms will not be cleaned if a pet is present (guests may obtain linen service).
  • Pets may not be left unattended in rooms or cabins.
  • Extra fees may apply for noisy dogs and cats that disturb other guests resulting in complaints or refunds.
  • Extra fees may apply for cleaning or damage to room or fixtures.
  • Pets are allowed only in designated areas.
  • Pets are not permitted inside restaurant, lobby, or other public areas.
  • Guests must cleanup after their pet (courtesy litter bags are provided).
  • Pets must be kept on a leash at all times.
  • Pets must be current with all vaccinations.

Camping and Trails:
Please contact the individual park for specific restrictions regarding pets in campgrounds and on various trails.

Firearms, traps and other weapons

In park, natural, and historical areas the use of traps, seines, handthrown spears, nets (except landing nets), firearms (including air and gas powered pistols and rifles), blow guns, bows and arrows or crossbows, and any other implements designed to discharge missiles in the air or under the water which are capable of destroying animal life is prohibited. The possession of such objects or implements is prohibited unless they are unloaded and adequately cased, or broken down or otherwise packed in such a way as to prevent their use while in the park areas.

  • Exception 1: Shooters may use recreational target shooting ranges available for skeet, trap and bow and arrow target shooting within a park area as long as these weapons are properly cased when not on the range.
  • Exception 2: Authorized Federal, State, County and City law enforcement officers may carry firearms in the performance of their official duties.
  • Exception 3: Persons using park area facilities while participating in authorized open or managed hunts within the park areas or beyond, may use and possess firearms under the specific rules and regulations pertaining to the authorized hunt and only in the authorized hunting zones or compartments.

Fires

The kindling of any fire is permitted only:
  • In designated camping and picnic grounds when the fire is confined in a fireplace provided for the use of visitors, or grills, or in locations marked by the Superintendent; or
  • In other locations, including backcountry, wilderness and remote sections of the park areas when a written permit has been secured from the Superintendent; or
  • In stoves or lanterns using gasoline, propane, butane gas or similar fuels.
  • Fires must be kindled in such manner that no tree, shrub, grass, or other inflammable or combustible matter will be set on fire or caused to be set on fire.
  • When no longer needed the fire shall be completely extinguished. Leaving a fire unattended is prohibited.
  • Throwing or dropping a lighted cigarette, cigar, pipe heel, match or other burning material is prohibited.
  • The kindling of fires on park area lands and privately owned lands under the legislative jurisdiction of the State of Tennessee may be prohibited or limited by the Superintendent by posted signs when the fire hazard makes such action necessary.
  • The Superintendent, during such periods of time as he may prescribe, may prohibit smoking on any lands, including roads and trails, by the posting of appropriate signs.

Fishing

  • Unless further restricted herein or by special regulation, fishing within park areas shall be in accordance with the laws and regulations of the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency.
  • Fishing in all park lakes may require a fishing permit for which there may be a nominal charge.
  • Digging for bait is prohibited within all park areas.
  • The transplanting or introducing of any live fish or fish eggs into the waters of any park area is prohibited.
  • Fishing is prohibited from within 200 feet of any public raft or float designed for water sports or within the limits of designated mooring areas or swimming areas. Fishing from within 200 feet of public boat docks with designated harbors may be prohibited by the Superintendent by the posting of appropriate signs.
  • Fishing from motor vehicle bridges is prohibited.
  • State fishing licenses and park permits must be exhibited upon demand to any person authorized to enforce the provisions of these regulations.

Preservation of Public Property, Natural Features, Curiosities & Resources

  • The intentional or wanton destruction, defacement, or removal of any natural or cultural feature or non-renewable natural resource is prohibited without a permit granted pursuant to rule 0400-2-2-.26 SCIENTIFIC SPECIMENS.
  • The intentional or wanton destruction, injury, defacement, removal or disturbance in any manner of any public buildings, signs, equipment, monument, marker or other structure or of any relic, artifact, ruin or historic or pre-historic feature or of any other similar public property is prohibited. The intentional or wanton possession of park equipment is prohibited without the authorization of the Superintendent or his designate.
  • Gathering or collecting for personal use reasonable quantities of natural products of a renewable nature including but not limited to fruits, berries, and driftwood is permitted; however, the gathering or collecting of such products for the purpose of commercial sale or other commercial use is prohibited.
  • The gathering or collecting of small quantities of pebbles or small rocks by hand for personal use is permitted; however, the collection of such objects for the purpose of commercial sale or other commercial use is prohibited.
  • The destroying, digging, cutting, removing, or possession of any tree, shrub, or other plant is prohibited without a permit granted by the Director of Parks and Recreation.
  • The use of any mineral or metal detecting device capable of detecting the underground or underwater location of geological, archaeological or historical objects or materials is prohibited. Provided, however, that this section shall not apply to:
  • fathometers, radar equipment and electronic equipment used primarily for the navigation and safe operation of boats and aircraft;
  • to persons possessing a permit from the State Archaeologist to conduct legitimate archaeological research when such permit is signed by the Director of Parks and Recreation; and
  • to an individual engaged in a limited search for a lost item under supervision of the park Superintendent.

Saddle and Pack Animals

  • Horses and other saddle or pack animals are permitted only on those trails or routes established for their use, except in those areas where cross-country travel is permitted by the Superintendent.
  • The use of horses or other saddle or pack animals upon the main traveled or maintained portion of roadways is prohibited except where such travel is necessary for ingress to and egress from trails or privately owned property, or is incidental to authorized travel.
  • In the interest of the public safety and welfare the Superintendent, by special regulation, may require that saddle horse parties and pack trains shall be in the charge of a guide who has been licensed under State of local laws or who meets qualifications which may be established by the Superintendent, or both, if the Superintendent deems it necessary.
  • Riding or hitching horses, or other saddle or pack animals in campgrounds, picnic areas, or within the immediate vicinity of trail shelters, eating or sleeping establishments or other areas of public gatherings, except where trails and facilities are designated or provided for such use, is prohibited.
  • Riders shall slow their horses to a walk or slow trot when passing persons on foot or on bicycles.

Smoking

The Tennessee Non-smokers Protection Act went into effect October 1, 2007. All state park inn rooms, cabins, restaurants, visitors centers, meeting rooms, restrooms, lobbies, reception areas, hallways and other common-use areas are now smoke-free.
Thank you for helping us make the transition to a smoke-free environment.

Swimming and Bathing

  • Swimming and bathing are prohibited except in designated beach areas, waters and pools.
  • The Park Superintendent, with the approval of the Director of Parks and Recreation, may post and enforce appropriate rules and regulations governing swimming areas. Violators of posted rules governing the use of pools and beaches will be subject to removal from the premises if the violation is flagrant or repeated or if in the judgment of the Park Superintendent the continued presence of the violator would create a hazardous condition in the area.
  • The Park Superintendent or his designated staff in a pool or beach area are charged with providing a safe condition in these areas and as such may, from time to time, regulate public use of these facilities for the protection of public health and safety. Nothing in these rules shall be construed as limiting the authority of a lifeguard or other personnel in regulating public behavior at beaches and other swimming areas, to only posted rules.
  • Scuba diving is prohibited within the limits of designated swimming, boat mooring, and boat docking areas.
  • Scuba diving will be permitted in those state park lakes which are within the borders of a park but only upon receiving a permit to do so from the Superintendent or his authorized representative. This permit will be granted upon demonstration by the applicant that he/she has received scuba certification which is granted to those successfully completing courses meeting the Revised Instructional Standards: Minimum Course Content for Entry-Level Scuba Certification , January 16, 1986, including any subsequent revision to these standards. These standards are subscribed to by: National Association of Scuba Diving Schools, National Association of Underwriter Instructors, NAVI, PADI, Scuba Schools International and the YMCA. Provided, however, the Park Superintendent may refuse to grant a permit whenever in his judgment safety conditions or park operation concerns dictate.

Wildlife; Hunting

  • The hunting, killing, wounding, frightening or capture at any time of any wildlife is prohibited, except dangerous animals when it is necessary to prevent them from destroying human lives or inflicting personal injury.
  • Exception: On park areas during those times when hunts are being conducted in accordance with Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency's laws and regulations.
  • Except as otherwise provided herein, the feeding, touching, teasing, molesting or intentional disturbance of any wildlife or the activities or phenomena of wildlife is prohibited.