Chattanooga resident David Seymore swims with his children Ethan Seymore, left, and Katelyn Seymore, right, behind one of the floating condos he rented at Hales Bar Marina.

From Jasper, Tenn.'s town square, visitors can take in this Southern-style small town, which lies at the southern end of the Sequatchie Valley, just a stone's throw from the Tennessee River's Nickajack Reservoir and breathtaking views from the bluffs of the Southern Cumberland Plateau.

Known as the "Gateway to the Sequatchie Valley," Jasper is the closest town to Marion County Park. The island-like, county-owned campground boasts a fishing pier and a large boat launch to access the Tennessee River's stretch between Nickajack Dam and downtown Chattanooga where droves of people go to escape life's fast pace.

Jasper is also the county seat of Marion County and home to the Jasper Regional History Museum.


-Population: 3,362 (2016 estimate)

-Date incorporated: 1959

-Time zone: Central

-Claim to fame: Gateway to the Sequatchie Valley


Jasper has some of the more popular chain restaurants travelers will recognize almost anywhere, but there are hidden local gems, too.

-Café 41: Known for its fresh sandwiches, wraps and homemade desserts. (5247 U.S. Highway 41; 423-942-3800)

-Snack Shack: Hearty breakfasts, burgers and fries. (904 Betsy Pack Drive; 423-942-8955)

-T's Diner: Classic comfort foods for every meal, such as the tenderloin biscuit or fried pies. (3525 Main St.; 423-94-3505)


-Trials Training Center: On the fringe of Jasper's northern city limits, this "all inclusive motorcycle resort" offers on-site camping, classes with rental bikes, riding gear and experienced, patient riding instructors. In 2017, the center hosted several national and international professional and amateur events including the seventh annual Kenda AMA Tennessee Knockout Extreme Enduro. (300 Woodland Road, Sequatchie, Tenn.; 423-942-8688;

-Marion County Fair: Usually scheduled in mid-May and held at the fairgrounds on Dairy Queen Way behind the Dairy Queen and the Circle K convenience store off of Main Street. There's a pageant, freestyle motorcycle and bicycle competitions and exhibitions, music, 4-H competitions and exhibitions, a carnival, and craft and food vendors. (1 Dairy Queen Way;

-Chattanooga Skydiving Company: Located at the Marion County Airport, this WHAT outfit offers tandem skydiving trips and skydiving instruction. (300 Airport Road; 855-776-5867;


Jasper has produced three big-league athletes, including NFL players Eric Westmoreland, a former linebacker for the Jacksonville Jaguars, and Eddie Brown, who played for the Cleveland Browns, Los Angeles Rams and Washington Redskins. Jasper was also the hometown of Bob Long, pitcher for the Pittsburgh Pirates and Seattle Mariners.


-Nickajack Lake just south of town provides easy access to the Tennessee River and Marion County Park on U.S. Highway 41, just a couple of miles outside the city limits. Nickajack has 215 miles of shoreline and 10,370 acres of water and is a destination for boaters and anglers. (

-Nearby resort Hales Bar Marina offers floating or land cabin rentals, boat rentals, a restaurant and an 18-hole miniature golf course along the shore of Nickajack Lake. (1265 Hales Bar Road; 423-942-9000;

Sources: Tennessee Blue Book; City of Jasper website; Southeast Tennessee Development District; Made In Tennessee; Trials Training Center; Marion County Fair; Chattanooga Skydiving Company;;

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As the setting sun filters through a large pine tree, two men fish along the back of Nickajack Lake at Marion County Park. (Staff photo by Robin Rudd)