Three cities in northern Tennessee offer unlimited outdoor activities in the shadows of the Appalachian Mountains.
Kingsport, Johnson City and Bristol are Tennessee’s Tri-Cities. Forming a triangle at the state’s northeastern border with Virginia, they offer individual attractions and convenient access to the Appalachian Mountains and Crockett National Forest.
Holston River winds through Kingsport, providing outdoor activity opportunities. Follow the river south to Warriors’ Path State Park. Ride horseback, picnic, camp, golf or rent a kayak to explore the riverbanks.
Visit the multi-faceted Bays Mountain Park west of Kingsport to attend a planetarium show, tackle challenges of the adventure ropes course, hike on forest trails and watch wolf pups at the zoo.
Kingsport’s Exchange Place Living History Farm features a historic 1850’s farmstead; visit during one of the five annual festivals to experience the changing seasons as our ancestors did.
Every July Kingsport hosts Fun Fest, a week-long festival of family-friendly events and activities. Ride in a colorful hot air balloon high over the city and attend concerts featuring country, Christian, rock and pop stars.
Head northeast to visit the Bristol Motor Speedway. With other activities throughout the year, the big event is August’s NASCAR race week. Join thousands for the racing as well as the camaraderie in the temporary village of race fans.
Other Bristol attractions are the underground Bristol Caverns and the TVA-built South Holston Dam, popular with humans and fish.
Near Johnson City at the triangle’s southern tip, go to Roan Mountain State Park for incredible views. Enjoy masses of rhododendron bursting into pink flowers each June and leaves changing colors during autumn.
East of the Tri-Cities, find the Appalachian Mountains and Cherokee National Forest. Hike a few miles on the Appalachian Trail as it heads north to Virginia on its 2184-mile (3,514-kilometer) path from Georgia to Maine.
Reach the area via the Tri-Cities Regional Airport at the center of the triangle of the three cities. For a scenic trip, drive west from Boone, North Carolina to the Tri-Cities area on winding roads over the Appalachian Mountains. Be prepared for snow in winter and unending beauty year-round.