It’s fall y’all! And, the best part of fall, is not only the cooling weather, but the wonderful changes to the trees in our city.
You can enjoy this change while driving through the streets of Kingsport’s neighborhoods. However, to us, the best place to experience the browns, oranges, reds, golds — and every color in-between — of the changing fall leaves in all their splendor is our own Bays Mountain Park and Planetarium.
Wait until you see the contrast of a brilliant red leafed tree next to a burnt orange leafed tree. Now that’s something!
We’ve taken a few photos to give you a taste of this feast for the eyes until you can head out to Bays Mountain Park yourself. Of course, no photo can truly capture the brilliant colors of our changing foliage, but these come pretty darn close.
Bays Mountain Park and Planetarium Facts
- Established in 1965, Bays Mountain Park & Planetarium is a 3500-acre nature preserve.
- Bays Mountain Park is the largest city-owned park in the state of Tennessee and one of the largest city-owned parks in the country. (New York’s famous Central Park is only 840 acres).
- There are 40 miles of hiking trails covering most of the park with 32 miles of approved mountain biking trails.
- Hikers may want to climb the Fire Tower. Located at an elevation of approximately 2600-feet, climbers can enjoy a 360-degree view of the park above the treetops.
- Visitors can ride a barge that traverses the park’s 44-acre lake.
- Test your climbing skills on the high and low adventure rope course or fly through the forest canopy on The Flying Squirrel, a 310-foot zip line.
- The park includes a Nature Center where visitors can learn about the flora and fauna of the park and the natural world.
- The park is the home of native habitats for wolves, bobcats, raptors, otter and deer.
- Bays Mountain Park’s state-of-the art Planetarium Theater features a 40-foot dome, surround sound and a Zeiss ZKP 4-star projector so precise viewers can use binoculars to see stars normally invisible to the naked eye.
- Bays Mountain Park has two observatories with several telescopic instruments. The observatories have two public observing programs: StarWatch (night viewing) and SunWatch (solar viewing).
- There are several geocaching locations in the park.
- Dolan Branch Falls is a 20-foot waterfall within the park near the dam.
- Fishing is allowed from the dam for adults over 55 and children under age 16. Bluegill, Bass, and Channel Catfish have been caught there.
- The park has outdoor classrooms where visitors learn about nature from naturalists and several nature programs like wildflower hikes, canoe and kayak tours, “Dining with Wolves,” a raptor tour and more.
- There are strict rules regarding dogs at the park. Dogs are allowed on the hiking trails, but must remain on a leash and under your physical control at all times. Dogs are not allowed in the animal habitats.
- There are picnic areas in the park, but no grills. Grilling is not allowed and no alcohol is permitted in the park.
Bays Mountain Park and Planetarium is open every day except Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve. The entrance fee is $5 per vehicle or $15 per bus (school bus or larger). Check their website for hours, Planetarium Theater Show ticket prices, program and activity fees or call (423) 229-9447.