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Practice safety at River Front Park

By: Lisa Hobbs -- Reporter for the Southern Standard

Keep safety in mind during your visit to Rock Island State Park, park officials say, because accidents spoil fun.



Stay safe and enjoy the great outdoors. 


While planning your next trip to Rock Island State Park, park manager Damon Graham urges individuals to keep safety in mind and adhere to park rules to ensure their visit is safe and enjoyable. 


“People not reading maps or planning their visit can create an issue,” said Graham. “We suggest stopping by park visitor centers for a trail map and actually reading it. Most trails here and at other parks are marked strenuous, moderate, or easy. Many trails at Rock Island are very strenuous and are labeled accordingly. There are also lots of rocks, believe it or not.”


Office hours are 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. The park office is located at 82 Beach Road. Park trail maps can also be obtained online at tnstateparks.com/parks/rock-island. 


That suggestion comes from multiple instances when hikers had to be rescued on strenuous trails because they had underlying medical conditions or a weakened physical condition and should have avoided any trail deemed strenuous. 


Dress appropriately.


“People sometimes do not wear the proper footwear and clothing,” said Graham. “We often see visitors arriving at a strenuous trail or a rocky trail wearing flip flops.”


A fun-filled day at the park should be a sober experience.


“Park rangers see instances of injuries resulting from alcohol or drug use,” said Graham. “Not only is it dangerous, it is also illegal. Park rangers do issue citations for drugs and alcohol within state parks. We want to promote a family friendly atmosphere so our visitors have a good experience. Alcohol and swimming do not mix.”


The park is currently seeing a large influx of summertime visitors. Social distancing is encouraged. 


“Be prepared for crowds, especially at peak times on peak days,” said Graham. “With COVID, we ask people to distance as much as possible. This can be difficult. 


Parks and waterways are seeing a very sharp increase in visitors, including many traveling from other states. Consider parks or trails that are less popular to avoid crowding. When meeting other hikers on the trail, please make sure to give ample distance to pass safely of six feet or more. Bring hand sanitizer just in case the trailhead does not have developed restrooms.”


On most weekends, all parking spots in the entire park are filled by 11 a.m. Frustration may lead some motorists to make an unwise parking decision. 


“Many people will try to park illegally or double park when there are no spaces left which may result in being towed,” said Graham. “If there are no parking spaces, the park is at capacity.”


The use of a personal flotation device by individuals participating in water sports is encouraged. 


“Park rangers suggest wearing a proper PFD anytime you are near or in the water,” said Graham. “This includes on kayaks, canoes, paddleboards or boats. Unexpected things happen very quickly. A sudden water release from the TVA dam can change conditions in a matter of seconds.”


Please follow park rules and read signs.


“Visitors should take time to read signs along trails and other entry points,” said Graham. “Signs and rules are there for a reason. Usually that reason is seeing repeated safety related incidents occurring over the years. Climbing waterfalls, cliff diving, and swimming in certain areas of the park are prohibited by park rule.”


Be aware of potential dangers. 


“Any area with a dam or powerhouse warrants paying extra attention. At Rock Island, there are both,” said Graham. “Water may be released from either location on an irregular schedule, with or without warning. Make sure to check TVA water release schedules before entering any area near or downstream of a dam or powerhouse. Visitors may visit one day and have calm, gentle currents and then the next day have totally different conditions with dangerous currents.”


With these suggestions and precautions in mind, visitors can plan a safe and enjoyable trip to Rock Island State Park. For more information, call 931-837-4770.

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