A land 500 million years in the making, Tennessee is riddled with natural wonders, topographic enigmas and prehistoric mysteries.
Home to the third oldest river in the world, a fossil site dating back more than 5 million years and a mountain chain ten times older than the Rockies, Sierras and Andes, Tennessee's natural history is a story well worth a closer read.
From dinosaurs to ancient forests, prehistoric fossils to glacier-carved gorges, Tennessee is a land 500 million years in the making--and has quite the scrapbook to prove it. Visit Great Smoky Mountains National Park, a World Heritage Site, where you can see the largest block of virgin red spruce remaining on earth. Or, dig below the soil at the Gray Fossil Site, where you can find remains of animals last seen on earth more than 5 million years ago. Walk the Appalachian Trail and feel, beneath your feet, mountains formed millions of years ago. And, explore the Cumberland Plateau, an area geologists believe was once covered with water.
Science books are no match for the fascinating story told through Tennessee's colorful natural wonders. Start exploring. You won't believe the mysteries that unfold.
Short Springs Natural Area
Short Springs is a 420-acre natural area located in Coffee County approximately three and a half miles northeast of Tullahoma. The natural area provides an excellent contrast between Highland Rim and Central Basin geology and vegetation. ...more
South Cumberland Recreational Area State Park
South Cumberland lies atop the Cumberland Plateau in four different counties protecting 25,000 acres of land, 90 miles of hiking trails and both natural and historic treasures. It includes seven unique sites. ...more
Southern Appalachian spruce-fir forest
The Southern Appalachian spruce-fir forest is a type of montane coniferous forest that grows in the highest elevations in the southern Appalachian Mountains of the eastern United States. The southern spruce-fir forest is the highest and coldest forest ecosystem in the Appalachian range, thriving in elevations above 5,500 feet (1,700 m) where the climate is too harsh to support the broad-leaved hardwood forest that dominates the region's lower elevations. ...more
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Tennessee River Trails
The Tennessee River Trail is waiting for you: a winding trail through Tennessee’s diverse river country featuring some of Tennessee’s most unique activities. Stop in Waverly, a historic railroad town featuring a museum and Civil War Fort. ...more
The Great River Road
Travel the Great River Road through Tennessee to find historical and recreational beauty. The Great River Road and National Scenic Byway travels through the entire western coast of Tennessee along the great Mississippi River. ...more
Top Secret Trail
Top Secret is waiting for you: a trail of secrets hidden among the scenic wilds of the Upper Cumberland Plateau. Immerse yourself in early Knoxville history by touring Blount Mansion, James White Fort and Bleak House, General Longstreet’s 1863 Battle of Knoxville headquarters. ...more
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Virgin Falls Pocket Wilderness Area
Virgin Falls is a 1,157-acre natural area located adjacent to the Bridgestone Firestone Centennial Wilderness in White County. The natural area is named for Virgin Falls, which is formed by an underground stream that emerges from a cave, then drops over a 110-foot high cliff before disappearing into another cave at the bottom of the sink. ...more
Walker Branch Natural Area
Walker Branch is a 225-acre natural area located just miles south of Savannah in Hardin County. The property was purchased with wetland acquisition funds by TWRA who cooperatively manages the site with the Natural Areas Program. ...more