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Enjoy some time in the park with your kids Saturday

Matthew Lane • May 18, 2018 at 12:30 PM

KINGSPORT — If the weather holds out on Saturday, you should really consider taking your kids to the park. It is National Kids to Parks Day after all, and communities across the country are hosting events to get folks outside and into the parks.

At the local level, Bays Mountain Park and Natural Tunnel State Park are holding events throughout the day to help celebrate the eighth annual national event.

BAYS MOUNTAIN PARK

From 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Bays Mountain Park will offer its normal nature programs, but with extra offerings such as a touch table from 11 p.m. to 3 p.m. in front of the Nature Center and a scavenger hunt from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. in front of the Farmstead Museum. Nature program fees apply, but the touch table and scavenger hunt are free.

Kingsport’s Parks and Recreation Department is also offering a free rental at one of its facilities to the winner of a Kids to Parks Day photo contest. All you have to do is visit one of the four parks on Saturday — Borden, the Greenbelt, Centennial or Preston Forest — and snap a photo. Then post your photo on Facebook with the hashtag #KidsToParksDay and follow the Kingsport Parks and Recreation page.

NATURAL TUNNEL STATE PARK

Located in Duffield, Va., Natural Tunnel State Park is hosting a variety of events in celebration of National Kids to Park 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. To register or for more information, call (276) 940-2674. This program is open to anyone ages 8 and up. For your comfort and safety appropriate footwear is required — no flip-flops, crocs, or sandals. The cost is $5 per person. Meet at the Stock Creek Interpretive Center.

— Kids in the Creek (11 a.m.) — What's under that rock? Come search the creek for underwater creatures during this free event and learn about the animals’ roles in the environment. Wear closed-toed shoes and expect to get wet. Meet at the Stock Creek Interpretive Center.

— Exploration Station (1 p.m. to 3 p.m.) Stop by the Visitor Center and discover some of the wildlife that calls Natural Tunnel home. While you’re there, make a craft inspired by Mother Nature. This is a free event.

— Nature Scavenger Hunt (2 p.m.) — Join the interpreter on a scavenger hunt to find all of the colors, shapes, and sizes that are found in nature. How many will you spot? Meet at the Visitor Center. This is a free event.

ABOUT KIDS TO PARK 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 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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