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DMRA shows great growth and success

By Meg Dickens
Staff Writer

Throughout this last year, many businesses have struggled thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. Others have flourished under its influence and related reactions. Doe Mountain Recreation Area (DMRA) reportedly “broke records in all categories” during the 2020-2021 fiscal year. With this success, personnel have been working to keep growing and improving.

“FY 2021 was a stellar year for Doe Mountain,” explained DMRA Executive Director Tate Davis. “We welcomed more visitors and generated more money than ever before. We successfully closed out a major ARC grant and two Tennessee Tourism marketing grants. We were awarded one of the largest federal recreational grants in the state and have immediately gone to work using this new funding on major improvements that have already completely transformed the park’s primary trailhead.”

Within FY2021, a variety of donations and grants drew more attention to Johnson County positively. Donated equipment freed up funding for other equipment rentals allowing “improvements far beyond those originally envisioned.” Some improvements include constructing Multi-use trails 13 and 16, constructing segment three of the Kettlefoot Hiking/Biking Trail, improving trailheads, expanding parking, building a new entrance, refining two vistas, making two new kiosks, and restoring the Kettlefoot Fire Lookout Tower (listed in the National Register of Historic Places).

“Thanks to the hard work of our staff, we have greatly improved parking and traffic flow to accommodate record visitors,” said Davis. “The park’s public profile has never been higher. Our trail system is the largest it has ever been and our 8,600-acre facility is in the best overall condition that it has ever been.”

DMRA statistics show that the entity is bringing tourism to Johnson County. Reportedly, 65.8 percent of visitors are from out of state, and only 10 percent of the total numbers come from this area. Permit sales are also at an all-time high since the project began. At the time of this article, it is unclear whether this is related to the recent Tennessee Tourism Marketing and CARES Safe Travel grants advertisements.

“The two grants represent the most attention paid to Johnson County tourism in many years, possibly ever,” said Davis. “We expect these promotional videos will keep registering positive impact for as long as they appear online.

DMRA’s part of the grant advertisement campaigns consisted of Doe Mountain, the 421 Snake, Watauga Lake, and Gentry Creek Falls. These videos did well on social media, with three of the four reaching more than 100,000 people and garnering likes between 150 to over 1,300. DMRA’s social media followers
have also jumped up by 35 percent, according to its recent report.

Doe Mountain Recreation Area covers 8,600 acres of protected mountain terrain and trails in Johnson County, Tennessee. DMRA is run by a staff of five women and four men. For more information on this entity, visit, check out its commercials on Explore Johnson County TN, or check out its facebook page.