State turns Savage Gulf into a separate state park

Scenic views of the Savage Gulf like this one from the top of the Great Stone Door are now part of a new Tennessee State Park that includes land formerly managed as part of South Cumberland State Park. According to state officials, South Cumberland had become too large to manage effectively as a single park, and the land’s unique characteristics warrant its status as a stand-alone park. (Photo Provided)

GRUNDY COUNTY, Tenn. — On Thursday, the the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) added state park number 57 with the creation of Savage Gulf State Park in Grundy and Sequatchie counties.

According to the state, the park, featuring one of Tennessee’s most scenic areas, includes the nearly 19,000-acre Savage Gulf State Natural Area, which is also a National Natural Landmark. The site contains old-growth forest and remarkable vistas, including waterfalls and the Great Stone Door, an impressive cliff line overlooking Savage Gulf that gets its name from a top-to-bottom crack in the cliff, resembling a door left slightly ajar.

The new park includes land formerly managed as part of South Cumberland State Park. South Cumberland had become too large to manage effectively as a single park, and the land’s unique characteristics warrant status as a stand-alone park, the state says.

“Savage Gulf State Park will be a unique Tennessee attraction,” Commissioner David Salyers said. “We want all Tennesseans to enjoy its natural beauty and recreation opportunities, and we are grateful to the governor and the Tennessee General Assembly for their leadership in making this happen.”

The Tennessee General Assembly provided $30,380,000 for future improvements, including a visitors center, RV campground, and infrastructure to support new facilities. For now, current access points remain as is.

“Grundy County is thrilled that our beautiful state parks will be enjoyed by visitors for years to come,” said Grundy County Mayor Michael Brady. “The park will be unique and bring to the forefront the beauty of the area. We are extremely grateful and appreciative to Governor Bill Lee, Commissioner Salyers, and the Tennessee General Assembly for their commitment to our majestic state parks. The Savage Gulf State Park will mean so much to Grundy County and Tennessee on so many levels. This is a great day for Grundy County!”

While most of Savage Gulf will continue to be maintained as a designated state natural area, the park will include the addition of a 744-acre developable area comprised of the former Shady Valley nursery and two recently acquired tracts. Key partners in the creation of the park include the Friends of South Cumberland, the State Lands Acquisition Fund, and the Tennessee Department of Transportation.

“The Friends of South Cumberland State Park has had a long and valuable relationship with Tennessee State Parks,” said Trae Moore, president of the Friends of South Cumberland support group. “We have been able to assist the state in protecting South Cumberland State Park and grow it into the natural treasure that it is today, and we look forward to the creation of the new Savage Gulf State Park and expanding access for Tennesseans and visitors alike.” 

To learn more about all 57 Tennessee State Parks, visit the state’s website. •

{The Lynchburg Times is an independently-owned, community newspaper located in Lynchburg, Tennessee the home of The Jack Daniel Distillery. We focus on public service, non-partisan, rural journalism. We cover the Metro Moore County government, local tourism, Moore County schools, high school sports, Motlow State Community College, as well as whiskey industry news and regional and state stories that affect our readers.}