While summer doesn’t officially start until mid-June, Memorial Day is when you first start to get into that summer state of mind. The weather is often perfect for spending all day outdoors, and spring’s natural beauty is in full bloom. And what better way to ring in the season than taking full advantage of the three-day weekend with a trip to Tennessee? From stunning waterways to military parks, we collected a list of four incredible places to explore the outdoors on a Memorial Day weekend adventure. Take in Tennessee’s natural beauty while having fun at these stunning locations throughout the state.
Chickamauga & Chattanooga National Military Park, Lookout Mountain
Set against the backdrop of Lookout Mountain, Chickamauga & Chattanooga National Military Park join scenic beauty and Civil War history in one park. You can honor the historic significance of Memorial Day by visiting Point Park, which commemorates the soldiers who fought in the 1863 Civil War battles for Chattanooga. Along with several historic buildings, you can see artifacts like cannons, memorials and statues. The area also includes hiking trails with some incredible lookout points.
Ocoee River, Southeast Tennessee
This 93-mile-long river flows from Georgia to Polk County in southeastern Tennessee best known for world-class whitewater rafting. With fun, challenging rapids appropriate for riders of all ages, Ocoee River has become one of the premier rafting locations in the U.S. The 23-mile Ocoee Scenic River State Park has Class III rapids in addition to canoeing, rafting, fishing, hiking and nature photography. With plenty of camping sites in the area, it’s a great place for an outdoor adventure over the long weekend.
Buffalo River, Linden
If you’re looking for a relaxing weekend outdoors surrounded by nature, Buffalo River is the place. It’s the longest un-impounded river in Middle Tennessee; the waterway is 125 miles of mostly flat water. Its mellow flow makes it the perfect place for canoeing and fishing, and it’s rich in aquatic life, so you’re almost guaranteed to get a nibble, especially this time of year. Buffalo Bud's offers what you need for a camping adventure along the river or clean cabins if that's more your speed, and its float trip traverses 10 miles of picturesque sights.
Ghost River Section of Wolf River, LaGrange
This 9-mile section of Wolf River begins in a narrow forest channel and opens into beautiful wetland meadows and bottomland hardwoods before ending at Spirit Lake. This portion twists and turns through some incredible scenery; cypress trees, open shrubby wetlands and bottomland hardwoods give the waterway a hauntingly beautiful quality. Because of its narrow passageways, the only mode of transportation can be by canoe or kayak. Some parts of the river are a difficult ride, making it a better choice for intermediate and advanced paddlers, but the mostly untouched natural scenery makes it worthwhile.
Memorial Day is the perfect occasion for a long weekend spent exploring Tennessee’s scenery. With so much to do, see and learn, these four places are sure to keep you entertained for a weekend getaway. For ideas on outdoor activities for your next trip to Tennessee, check out our Outdoor Adventure page.