Bays Mountain Park & Planetarium is celebrating 50 years of family fun and adventure in 2021, and you’re invited to a party that will last all year long.
On May 24, 1971, Bays Mountain Park opened the doors to the Nature Center, and has welcomed generations of Kingsport families into the park ever since. With a focus on education, preservation and wholesome outdoor fun, the park has become a staple attraction for the region, often referred to as Kingsport’s “crown jewel.”
“Our park staff is humbled and honored to be part of a destination that has had such a profound impact on so many lives and has helped so many create wonderful, vibrant memories,” Park Manager Rob Cole said.
This year, the park will celebrate its golden anniversary with special events, opportunities to get involved, commemorative merchandise and more. Throughout 2021, look for fun events and programs fit for everyone. Whether you love adventuring in the woods, learning about local history, or spending time with family, Bays Mountain Park is the place to be.
“This is such an exciting time for our community and our region,” said former Kingsport Mayor and BMP 50th Year Celebration Committee Chair Jeanette Blazier. “The former mayors of the City of Kingsport are championing the efforts to make this a very special celebration.”
Join the park for Kids at Bays on Saturday, April 24 for a fun-filled family day from noon to 6 p.m. Featuring food trucks, live music, games, door prizes and more, all activities are free with park admission. Plus, kids can help celebrate the wolves’ birthday by making cards and decorating cupcakes!
May is Bays’ official anniversary month, and it’s jam-packed with fun activities all leading up to the big day, May 24, including:
• Morning Yoga on first four Saturdays at 9 a.m.
• Morning Kayak Tour on May 23, 9 a.m.
• Guided History Hike on May 23, 2 p.m.
• Anniversary Day Celebration on May 24, 1 p.m.
What else can you look forward to during Bays Mountain’s 50th Anniversary Celebration? On social media, look out for oral history narratives of the park and other fun facts about the mountain. Bays Mountain Brewing Company will host “A Night with a Naturalist” events at the brewery, where you can sip some local brews while you learn a thing or two. On Father’s Day Weekend, June 19, the park will host Jeep Fest. There’s plenty of other events and programs in the works too, including VIP Barge Rides, Campfire Tales, a music festival and the return of the Laser Light Show!
There’s more than just events on the horizon to mark the 50th Anniversary. Bays Mountain Park has spent the last few years making improvements to its facilities, from new exhibits in the Nature Center to additional parking. This year, BMP will begin construction of two new projects: a commemorative trail accessible to hikers and bikers of a variety of skill levels, and the new Fox Den play space, in memory of Parker Fox.
Want to deck yourself out in Bays Mountain merch to help celebrate? Visit baysmountain.com/merch to purchase limited edition t-shirts, hats, mugs, water bottles, stickers and more. Plus, be sure to keep an eye on that website—more designs will be released throughout the year. Proceeds will support 50th anniversary initiatives.
One more way you can help out the park this year—buy yourself a drink! Bays Mountain Brewing Company has partnered with Bays Mountain Park to bring a new brew to their menu: “Celebrate 50! Bays Mountain Park Ale.” One dollar from every can sold will support trail maintenance projects at Bays Mountain Park & Planetarium. Looking for other ways to contribute? Bays Mountain Park also accepts donations.
More events and opportunities to make your mark on Kingsport’s beloved nature preserve will be announced throughout the year. To stay in the know, visit baysmountain.com and follow Bays Mountain Park & Planetarium on Facebook and Instagram. Be sure to spread your love for the mountain by tagging the park when you post pictures of your visits and adventures!
“We hope that in this 50th year, the park’s legacy will not only be fondly remembered and celebrated,” Cole said, “but that the course for the next 50 years is set, ensuring that Bays Mountain serves the region as effectively as it has since its opening. That is the mission of Bays Mountain Park.”
About Bays Mountain Park & Planetarium
Annually, more than 200,000 visitors pass through Bays Mountain Park making it one of the State of Tennessee’s Top 50 Most Visited Attractions, according to the State of Tennessee Department of Tourist Development. One of the nation’s largest city-owned parks with 3,550 acres, Bays Mountain Park features roughly 40 miles of hiking trails, a state-of-the-art planetarium, wildlife habitats, fun exhibits, a 44-acre lake, ropes course with zip line, trails for mountain biking and much, much more.
About the City of Kingsport
Founded in 1917, the City of Kingsport (pop. 53,000) is located on the Tennessee-Virginia border at the crossroads of I-81 and I-26 near the geographic center of the eastern U.S. The city is widely known as a planned community, designed by renowned city planner John Nolen and wrapping around the foot of Bays Mountain – a 3,500-acre park, nature preserve, planetarium and observatory. Kingsport is recognized as an International Safe Community by the National Safety Council, a Healthier Tennessee community, and won the 2009 Harvard Innovations in American Government Award for its higher education initiatives. While many city names are duplicated throughout the U.S., there’s only one Kingsport – a fact that invokes community pride, known locally as the “Kingsport Spirit.”