Tennessee is a state known for its spellbinding music and finger-licking food. But did you know it’s also the perfect destination for people who love a bit of adventure? Tennessee is full of lush mountains, rivers, and forests. It’s a place where you can hike, raft, climb, and even explore deep caves.
No wonder it attracts millions of visitors every year. In 2022, Tennessee witnessed $27.5 billion in travel spending. So, what makes this popular US state worth the hype? Is it the expansive green mountains, mouthwatering cuisines, or adventurous sports? We’ll discuss it all below.
Let’s dive into some of the best outdoor activities this state has to offer.
1. Hiking in the Great Smoky Mountains
Think of a place where green trees touch the sky, and clouds roll between the hills. That’s the Great Smoky Mountains for you. This National Park is an incredible spot for anyone who likes to walk and explore. There are many paths you can take, from short walks to long treks.
One of the popular paths is the Alum Cave Bluffs. It’s not too tough, and you get to see some cool things along the way, like caves and high wooden bridges. Another one is the Chimney Tops. This one is a bit more uphill, but the view at the end is worth it. If you’re quiet and lucky, you might even see some animals. Deer, bears, and colorful birds live in these mountains. Remember to be safe and not get too close to wild animals.
If hiking doesn’t appeal to you, drive along the Cades Cove Loop Road. The Cades Cove scenic loop stretches 11 miles, surrounded by breathtaking mountains. It’s the best place to view the Great Smoky Mountain’s wildlife, like the white-tailed deer.
2. White-water rafting in the Ocoee River
Have you ever been on a boat that feels like a wild horse? If not, white-water rafting in the Ocoee River is your chance. This river is famous because, in 1996, some of the Olympic water events took place here. When you’re on the river, you’ll feel the water rush and splash. It’s a mix of excitement and fun.
There are parts of the river that are calm, where you can float and enjoy the view. But there are also parts where the water gets wild. Here, you need to hold on tight. Even if you’ve never tried rafting before, there are guides who can teach you. They make sure you’re safe and having a fun time.
3. Rock Climbing at Foster Falls
If you’ve ever wanted to feel like Spiderman, rock climbing at Foster Falls might be your thing. It’s part of South Cumberland State Park. Here, you’ll find rocks that are like natural ladders. Some are easy to climb, while others are for those who have a bit more experience.
The best part? Once you’re up high, you get to see an amazing view of waterfalls and forests. It’s like looking at a live painting. And if climbing is not your thing, that’s okay. The park itself is a beautiful place for a picnic or a day out.
4. Caving at Ruby Falls
Imagine walking inside the earth and finding a hidden waterfall. That’s what Ruby Falls is like. It’s a special place deep inside a mountain. The path to the waterfall is like a fun maze. There are narrow spots, wide halls, and places where the ceiling shines like a starry night.
When you finally reach the waterfall, it’s like seeing a secret. The water falls from so high up, and the sound it makes is like music. People of all ages come to Ruby Falls, and everyone leaves with a smile. It’s a mix of wonder, fun, and a little bit of magic.
5. Ziplining in Gatlinburg
Have you ever dreamt of flying? Ziplining in Gatlinburg is about as close as you can get to that dream. Gatlinburg is a town nestled in the Smoky Mountains, and it offers some of the best views from above the trees. When you’re on a zipline, it’s like you’re a bird. You zoom over trees and see the land from way up high.
The good news is you don’t need to be an expert to try ziplining. There are people there to help you, and they make sure you’re strapped in safely. All you need to do is enjoy the ride and the beautiful sights. When you glide over the forests with the mountains in the distance, it’s a feeling you won’t forget.
6. Horseback Riding in Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area
Imagine a peaceful ride with the sounds of nature all around you. That’s what horseback riding in the Big South Fork area feels like. This park has wide open spaces, dense forests, and gentle rivers. It’s like a painting come to life.
You can hop on a horse and take a guided trail ride. The horses are friendly and well-trained. As you ride, you can see birds flying overhead and hear the sounds of the river flowing. While riding a horse, you can see the park in a unique way. It’s slow and calming, and it lets you feel connected to nature. Even if you’ve never ridden a horse before, there are guides who can help you. They make sure you’re comfortable and safe.
7. Kayaking in Reelfoot Lake
Did you know that some lakes have a special story? Reelfoot Lake is one of them. A long time ago, there were big earthquakes, and they made this lake. Today, it’s a peaceful place where people come to paddle and relax. The water is clear, and you can see fish swimming below.
There are tall trees around the lake, and they’re home to many birds. If you like bird-watching, this is a great spot. While paddling, you can see birds like eagles and herons. The best thing about kayaking is that it’s simple. You don’t need a lot of gear, and it’s easy to learn. Just grab a paddle, hop in, and explore the lake at your own pace.
Tennessee is a state full of surprises. Whether you’re high up in the air, on a horse, or floating on a lake, there’s always something new to see and do. These adventures let you feel the joy of being outdoors. They remind you of the beauty of nature and the fun of trying something different. If you’ve been looking for a place to explore and have fun, Tennessee should be on your list. Every activity, every trail, every ride tells a story. And the best part? You can be a part of that story. So, pack your bags, put on your adventure shoes, and go see what Tennessee has in store for you.