Kingsport Roots: Bays Mountain Park and Planetarium

If you’re heading to Kingsport for a visit, a trip to Bays Mountain Park and Planetarium has to be on your bucket list!

A stunning nature preserve, Bays Mountain Park is one of the most scenic spots in Northeast Tennessee, stretching across 3,550 acres. A haven for outdoor enthusiasts, the park includes 38 miles of trails for hiking, running, mountain biking, bird watching, and sight-seeing.

The largest city-owned park in the state, visitors can choose from a wide array of activities to take part in, including enjoying the pristine 44-acre lake, as well as:

  • Nature Center, where educational programs focus on wolves, snakes, raptors, and much more
  • Animal Habitats, which are home to wolves, bobcats, whitetail deer, otters, foxes, raptors, reptiles and more
  • State-of-the-art Planetarium featuring remarkable programs, a 40-foot dome, 6.1 surround sound, and a Carl Zeiss ZKP-4 star projector that is so precise visitors can use binoculars to see details in two dozen deep-sky objects.
  • Adventure Ropes Course, featuring high and low ropes, as well as a 300-foot zip line.
  • Barge Rides, where you can check out a variety of animals including, deer, great blue herons, raccoons, ducks, geese, turtles, beaver lodges, and even the odd bear at times. Onboard is a naturalist that will talk to you about the park’s history, as well as the animals you encounter during your outing.
  • Camping and Fishing is also quite popular. Overnight camping is permitted for scout groups and recognized organizations in designated areas, while fishing from the dam is allowed for people 55 years or older and for people under the age of 16.

Farmstead Museum is also a wonderful area of the park. Showcasing the way of life that existed on and around the mountain from pioneer days to the end of the 19th Century, it features tools, machinery, and household items, while the building itself is constructed of hand-hewn logs that illustrate building techniques of that era.

Visitors can take advantage of picnic shelters while sites for family, school, or corporate events are available for rental so that everyone can enjoy the beauty of the park and also get up close and personal with some of the native animals featured in the nature programs.

With more than 200,000 visitors a year, it’s obvious that Bays Mountain, one of the region’s brightest gems, must be explored!