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The Great Outdoors - Enjoy a day at the park on Saturday

Matthew Lane • May 16, 2019 at 5:30 PM

KINGSPORT — A nationwide celebration of the great outdoors is taking place Saturday, and you can participate by taking a short drive to Bays Mountain Park or a slightly longer one just up the road to Natural Tunnel State Park.

Either one will work and you’ll be doing a great service to your children.

National Kids to Parks Day is an annual event held by communities across the country as a way to get folks — particularly children and teens — outside and into our many national, state and local parks. On a local level, Bays Mountain and Natural Tunnel are holding events throughout the day to help celebrate the ninth annual event.

BAYS MOUNTAIN PARK

From 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., the park will offer a variety of kid-friendly activities, including interactive tables marked with bright balloons throughout the animal habitats. These tables will focus on such topics as bird calls, snakes, frogs and turtles, beekeeping life and more.

The park will also provide “Nature Neighbors — Spiders,” a program catered to children, in the Discovery Theater at 1 p.m. The program is $3 per person for non-members, and tickets will be available at the Nature Center shop on Saturday.

Standard entrance fees and other park program fees apply. For more information, visit baysmountain.com or call (423) 229-9447.

NATURAL TUNNEL STATE PARK

Located in Duffield, Va., Natural Tunnel is hosting a number of events on Saturday in celebration of National Kids to Parks Day.

— Stock Creek Passage (9 a.m.): View the tunnel from the inside out. This strenuous walk will include crossing creeks, boulders and rocks, just like the early adventurers. Once inside the tunnel, you’ll hear stories about how the tunnel was formed and see a fault line. Wading attire, a flashlight and a wading staff are highly recommended. Preregistration is required and the cost is $5 per person. To register, call (276) 940-2674.

— Kids in the Creek (11 a.m.): What’s under that rock? Show up at 11 a.m. and you’ll find out. Participants will search the creek for underwater creatures and learn about their roles in the environment. Be sure to wear closed-toed shoes and expect to get wet. Meet at the Stock Creek Interpretive Center.

— Green Carnival (1 p.m. to 3 p.m.): Help keep the Natural Tunnel clean by coming out to the Going Green Carnival. Enjoy an afternoon full of carnival games, crafts and memories. Each game or craft will teach you a little about how to reduce, reuse and recycle. Activities will require a ticket to participate and can be obtained by handing in trash or litter lying around the park. Meet at the Visitor Center.

ABOUT KIDS TO PARKS DAY

Launched in 2011, Kids to Parks Day is a nationwide celebration of the great outdoors that takes place on the third Saturday in May. It’s designed to connect kids and families with their local, state, and national parks and public lands.

By discovering and exploring our public lands, kids across the country can learn about park stewardship, outdoor recreation, STEM (science, technology, engineering and math), and the history of our country.

The annual event was created by the National Park Trust, a land conservancy and environmental education nonprofit organization established in 1983. The NPT is dedicated to preserving parks today and creating park stewards for tomorrow.

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