Steele Creek Park, Bristol, Tennessee, May 22, 2020

A sign at Steele Creek Park in Bristol, Tennessee reminds visitors to keep physical distance from each other. 

Looking to get outside this Memorial Day weekend?

Several local parks and recreation areas in Bristol are open, but officials are reminding people to practice social distancing and avoid gathering in crowds amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

And there may be damp conditions in the coming days – the National Weather Service forecasts potential showers in Bristol on Saturday afternoon and evening, with storms also possible Sunday. Memorial Day also has a 50% chance of rain, according to the NWS.

Here are the current restrictions at some local parks:

Bristol, Tennessee

Steele Creek Park is open, though the city of Bristol, Tennessee has announced that paddle boats and the Steele Creek Express, a small train that runs through part of the park, will not operate this summer.

Picnic shelters – which are normally available by reservation only – can be used on a first-come-first-serve basis. Posted signage says there should be fewer than 10 people in and around a shelter.

Terry Napier, the city’s parks and recreation director, said Friday that playgrounds at city parks have reopened.

The Nature Center at Steele Creek Park is expected to reopen Tuesday and shelter rentals are scheduled to resume on July 1, according to a city news release.

Bristol, Virginia

Sugar Hollow Park is open, but a number of amenities – including the playground, picnic area, campground and the Waldo Miles Retreat and pool – remain closed.

Walking and biking trails, the dog park and the disc golf course are open.

“Anything we take reservations on we are not able to take reservations right now,” said Danny Hill, the city’s recreation superintendent.

Although the park gets a lot of foot traffic, he said visitors have mostly been compliant with the social distancing measures.

“As a general rule of thumb, people are behaving and doing what they are supposed to do under these restrictions,” Hill said.

At Cumberland Square Park in downtown Bristol, the annual Memorial Day service has been canceled. Still, the Veteran’s Council will lay a wreath in the park, which features a veteran’s war memorial. Cumberland Square Park is open to the public, but people are still urged to practice social distancing.

South Holston Dam

The South Holston Dam – which features walking trails and fishing – is open. Permanent restroom facilities are currently closed, but portajohns will be placed on site, according to a news release from the Tennessee Valley Authority.

TVA spokeswoman Mary Ellen Miller said visitors are asked to follow public health guidance when visiting South Holston. | 276-645-2567 | Twitter: @Tim_Dodson

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