NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – As COVID-19 spurred people to seek recreation outdoors, the Tennessee State Parks system had record visitation, particularly for camping.
The parks saw 62,124 nights camping in October, a one-month record for camping stays in the system, topping the mark of 57,472 nights set in June 2020. November saw over 36,000 camping nights sold, the highest number for November ever and exceeding November 2019 by 15,000 nights.
Four of the top 10 camping months ever in state parks have come in 2020, driven by visitors seeking the outdoors during the coronavirus pandemic.
“I believe our state parks are doing a service for Tennessee state citizens that’s as great as anything we’ve ever done because people need a place to go,” said Jim Bryson, Deputy Commissioner of the TN Department of Parks & Conservation. “They want to get outside; they want to get out of their house. People are tired and they need a place to go and rejuvenate, and state parks are providing that place.”
The trend is expected to continue, even when the pandemic is over.
“We expect that a lot of people are discovering the outdoors,” explained Bryson. “So, even if there is a vaccine or other end to this COVID crisis that we have today, we think a lot of people have discovered the outdoors and will want to return.
“Tennesseans love state parks. All we ask is that they love them responsibly and realize that these are natural resources, and our staff is doing everything that they can to take care of the increased crowds. We want to welcome them and we want to practice good social distancing practices and wear a mask, and do the things that do it safely. But we’re excited about the times we are having in state parks and how we are moving forward.”
For information on Tennessee State Parks, campgrounds, cabins, and activities visit their website.