TDEC, TDOT Officials Open New Visitors Center at Reelfoot Lake State Park

Monday, March 15, 2021 | 11:48am

The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) and the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) unveiled the Great River Road Visitors Center Friday at Reelfoot Lake State Park.

The center is a gateway for visitors to the park and northwest Tennessee as well as those traveling the Great River Road scenic byway. The building will serve as a gathering place for programming, including eagle tours, and support interpretive elements of the park.

“Tennessee has the best state parks system in the nation,” Commissioner David Salyers of TDEC said. “The Great River Road Visitors Center is yet another opportunity for people to find and fall in love with Tennessee State Parks.”

“The opening of this new facility not only improves the visitor experience to the Reelfoot area, it connects the traveling public to the communities of Lake and Obion counties,” TDOT Commissioner Clay Bright said. “This partnership and this center will bring greater education, enjoyment and economic activity to this scenic corner of Tennessee.”

Tennessee State Parks had an economic impact of $1.84 billion in Tennessee in 2020 and welcomed 34.7 million visits, according to a report done for the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation. The report noted that local area spending by visitors has a substantial impact on local economies. The parks reached historic highs in camping, recording four of the top 10 months ever, and set a pace for future success with $184 million in investments in capital projects throughout the year. Those projects alone are expected to result in over $400 million in economic impact to the state.

Reelfoot Lake State Park, situated on the shores of Reelfoot Lake, is a noted destination for fishing, boating, and wildlife viewing. The 15,000-acre lake was formed by a series of earthquakes from 1811-1812. The landscape of the park, as well as ecological and natural features in the Reelfoot area, are unique. Reelfoot Lake State Park hosts the annual Eagle Festival and is a bird watching destination. More information about the park can be found at this link.

Created in 1938, the Great River Road is a National Scenic Byway which stretches 3,000 miles along both sides of the Mississippi River through 10 states and is organized nationally by the Mississippi River Parkway Commission. The Great River Road in Tennessee travels along state routes 78 and 51 from the state line in Lake County to the Tennessee-Mississippi border. In February the Great River Road in Tennessee was designated an All-American Road by the Federal Highway Administration due to the national historic and cultural significance of the route. The Great River Road in Tennessee joined 56 other scenic routes throughout the country in earning the prestigious designation. More information can be found here.