Rock Island State Park alerts visitors on gorge closure, parking capacity

(Photo: UCBJ/Michelle Price)

ROCK ISLAND – Tennessee State Parks is alerting visitors to Rock Island State Park that swimming locations in the river gorge section of the park will need to be closed in the coming weeks due to water releases at Great Falls Dam.

Park officials are also encouraging visitors to have alternative parking plans due to extremely high visitation levels at the park, especially on weekends. Motorists are asked not to park on roadsides or in non-designated spots to avoid having vehicles towed. Park officials suggest visiting at non-peak hours and avoiding weekends.

“We want everyone to understand conditions at the park before they arrive,” Damon Graham, park manager at Rock Island, said. “We are grateful for the high level of interest in the park, but it is important that everyone be aware of the circumstances at the dam and with parking. We want visiting the park to be as enjoyable as possible for everyone.”

Great Falls Dam, operated by the Tennessee Valley Authority, will be maintaining targeted water levels with releases as both generator units will be out of service. The dam is expected to be in active spill mode for the service period expected to go through July 24. Active spill mode is in effect any time water is being released from the dam. Massive amounts of water may be discharged suddenly, affecting conditions for miles downstream. For visitor safety, all state park sections of the river gorge below the dam will be closed during this time. The closure includes all swimming spots in the gorge as well as the Upstream Access Trail and the Old Mill Access Trail.

Park visitors are asked to please plan accordingly for the closures and for their safety not to attempt to enter closed areas.

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