Best Things to Do in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Things to Do in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Are you looking for the best things to do in Great Smoky Mountains National Park? You are on the correct article. It contains all the information you need to plan a family tour.

Located between North Carolina and Tennessee, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a perfect place to escape from the busy world. And also, it is famous among adventure seekers, campers, hikers, and family travelers.

The top attractions in the park are Newfound Gap, Cades Cove Loop Road, Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail, and Clingmans Dome. Aside from that, there are many beautiful waterfalls, hiking trails, and campgrounds.

Just scroll down and add them to your bucket list.

1. Things to Do in Great Smoky Mountains National Park: Newfound Gap

You’ve probably heard about Newfound Gap, a scenic road in the Smoky Mountains. At 5,056 feet, it’s the lowest drivable mountain pass in the park. It is located near the southern Appalachian Mountains.

Things to Do in Great Smoky Mountains National Park Newfound Gap
Newfound Gap

The road to Newfound Gap starts at Cherokee, TN, and rises. You can see a ridgeline from the road, and the scenery is spectacular.

In July, the rosebay rhododendron blooms. Across the road is the Rockefeller Memorial, a historical landmark named in honor of the 5 million dollar donation from the Rockefeller family.

But did you know that the name of this road has changed several times over the years? In 1872, it was originally called Indian Gap. But, a surveyor found that it was lower than the previous titleholder, so it was renamed Newfound Gap.

The road to Clingmans Dome in the park winds north and south, climbing to almost 5,000 feet. From here, you can hike to the top of the Smokies’ highest peak, Clingmans Dome.

The road is closed in the winter, so you can’t drive there. If you have an extra day, consider a picnic and a visit to Newfound Gap’s observation tower.

The Sugarlands Visitor Center is the starting point of your Newfound Gap road trip. The center provides bathrooms and restrooms. It also includes the Fighting Creek Self-Guided Nature Trail.

This walk follows a stream and leads to an authentic Appalachian mountain cabin. Just half a mile from the visitor center, you can also see Cataract Falls, which is less than a mile away.

2. Things to Do in Great Smoky Mountains National Park: Old Smoky

Old-fashioned cabins in the Great Smoky Mountains are the perfect getaway for a romantic getaway.

Things to Do in Great Smoky Mountains National Park Old Smoky
The Great Smoky Mountains

These rustic cabins have full kitchens, hot tubs, and outdoor living spaces. Each of the 14 stops in the park offers an incredible view of the mountains.

There are several specialty tours for couples to take advantage of as well. You can also choose from an array of hotels in Pigeon Forge or Gatlinburg.

There are also hundreds of miles of hiking trails in the Great Smoky Mountains. You can take on the challenges of multi-day hikes or take a stroll. Just make sure to pack proper hiking gear and plan ahead of time.

The Smoky Mountains are known for their beauty and the beauty of nature. You’ll be surrounded by natural beauty and breathtaking vistas that make for an unforgettable vacation.

The Smokies are home to more than 17,000 species of plants and animals. Some scientists estimate that there are as many as 80,000 species. The diversity of species in the Smokies is due to the diverse environments throughout the park.

Unlike other parks, this park has an extremely high elevation range, with rainfall of up to 85 inches annually. It’s no wonder there are so many beautiful places to visit. You can watch a National Geographic video about the Smokies to get an idea of what you can expect.

Besides the mountains, the park is home to several hiking trails. A popular trail is the Clingmans Dome Trail, which spans seventy-one miles through the park. It’s also home to the famed Appalachian Trail, or the “mother trail.”

3. Sugarlands Visitor Center

When visiting the Smoky Mountains, you may want to stop at the Sugarlands Visitor Center.

Sugarlands Visitor Center
Sugarlands Visitor Center

This center features maps and exhibits on the ecosystem and history of the park. You can also watch a free 20-minute video presentation.

The center also has a gift shop where you can purchase books on the park’s history, ecosystem, wildlife, and more. The center also has ranger-led programs where you can learn more about the history and ecosystem of the park.

The Sugarlands Visitor Center is located inside the Sugarlands State Park, 2 miles south of Gatlinburg on US-441. It is open all year except for Christmas Day.

Inside, you can view the region’s natural history exhibits and learn about native plants and wildlife. You can even take home souvenirs and find out more about the national park’s natural history.

You’ll want to take your time while exploring the park and making the most of your time in the park.

The Sugarlands Visitor Center is one of the best places to get a quick overview of the park. You’ll find information about the park’s natural history and restrooms here.

It also houses a gift shop, bookstore, and restrooms. Visitors to the center can also find a selection of hiking and nature trails. A popular hiking trail is the Fighting Creek Nature Trail, which takes less than an hour to complete.

Another excellent visitor center to stop by is Cades Cove, located halfway around the loop road. While it’s open year-round, it’s closed on Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve.

Address: 1420 Fighting Creek Gap Rd, Gatlinburg, TN 37738, United States  

4. Cades Cove Loop Road

If you’re a wildlife lover, the Cades Cove Loop Road is a must-see attraction in the Smoky Mountains.

Cades Cove Loop Road Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Cades Cove Loop Road, Great Smoky Mountains National Park

This road takes you through the heart of the park’s Cades Cove village. Its natural beauty makes it a favorite among tourists. This park is also home to several wildlife species, including bears.

There are also several outdoor exhibits at the Visitor Center, which is open daily (except Christmas). The center has a bookstore and restrooms.

There is only one entrance to the Cades Cove Loop Road. This road was built after the Great Smoky Mountains National Park was established in 1934. In the early 1900s, 125 families lived in the coves.

The loop road takes in wildlife and historic buildings. While driving on Cades Cove Loop Road, you’ll see the John P. Cable Grist Mill, a relic of the area’s history.

One of the oldest cabins in the region is the Elijah Oliver Cabin, which requires a one-mile out-and-back hike. Other notable cabins are Carter Shields Cabin and Dan Lawson Place.

Tipton Place is another famous site. In addition to the transition house, this loop road features the cantilever barn, one of the few remaining buildings of this type.

A popular hiking trail in Cades Cove is the Abrams Falls Trail. This five-mile round-trip trail includes a 20-foot waterfall and deep pool at its base. Other popular hiking spots in the area include Rocky Top and Thunderhead Mountain.

While there are many attractions along the loop road, the Abrams Falls Trail offers the best views of wildlife and natural beauty.

5. Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail

If you are looking for a scenic drive in the Great Smoky Mountains, you may want to take the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail.

Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail Great Smoky Mountains
Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail

The trail offers small cascades over rocks and paved parking areas. It is also a popular destination among locals and tourists alike.

This nature trail is a short drive from the park’s entrance. It is not recommended for buses, but it is a great way to see the area’s natural beauty.

The Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail is a scenic drive that offers breathtaking mountain views, waterfalls, and historic buildings. You can explore two waterfalls on the trail, Grotto Falls and Baskins Creek Falls.

It also offers views of old mills and log cabins. You can also spot wildlife along the way. After you’ve toured the park’s attractions, make time for the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail.

You can drive the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail if you have a car. The road is one-way, so you can’t drive a large RV or truck down it.

The road leads to the Noah “Bud” Ogle farmstead, where you can find a map of attractions on the road. You can hike to Rainbow Falls, which is approximately 5.4 miles long.

While you’re driving the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail, take time to stop and enjoy the scenery along the way. Located within the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, this scenic drive is a must-do for anyone looking to experience the park’s natural beauty.

Visitors can also see historic structures along the road. Once you’re done touring the park, head back along the Historic Nature Trail Road to take the scenic drive.

6. Clingmans Dome

Visitors to the Great Smoky Mountains should take the time to visit Clingmans Dome. This observation tower at the mountain’s summit is an excellent place to take in the sweeping views of the surrounding mountains and valleys.

Clingmans Dome Great Smoky Mountains
Clingmans Dome

Visitors can also catch the beautiful sunrise or sunset on top of the tower. This popular tourist attraction is a part of the Mission 66 program, which was designed to attract more visitors to national parks.

The seven-mile drive to Clingmans Dome begins at Newfound Gap on U.S. 441. There is a parking area with restrooms and a souvenir shop. A half-mile paved trail leads to the observation tower.

Bicycles are not permitted on this trail because of their steepness. Visitors must bring a lock to keep their bikes on the paved walkway.

Great Smoky Mountains from Clingmans Dome
Great Smoky Mountains View from Clingmans Dome

Visitors should bring layers of clothing when hiking on Clingmans Dome. Temperatures can be up to 20 degrees cooler at the summit than in the surrounding area.

Visitors should be prepared for rain, snow, and other types of weather. Clingmans Dome is located 23 miles from Gatlinburg. The trail is an easy half-mile path that takes you through the largest intact eastern spruce-fir ecosystem in the U.S.

The paved road leading to Clingmans Dome leads to the summit, where you can admire the spectacular view of Tennessee and seven states.

The hike to Clingmans Dome is a one-mile round-trip hike and is not wheelchair accessible. Despite its steepness, it offers panoramic views and is a popular destination for visitors to the Great Smoky Mountains.

If you are in the area, you can take advantage of the national park’s accessibility by driving or taking public transportation to Asheville.

7. Waterfalls in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Grotto Falls Trail

During your visit to Great Smoky Mountains National Park, don’t miss out on the opportunity to hike the Grotto Falls Trail.

Grotto Falls Trail Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Grotto Falls Trail, Great Smoky Mountains National Park

This trail will take you through the forest and behind a 25-foot waterfall. Here are a few of the reasons why this trail is a must-try.

You may be surprised by what you find at the trail’s end! Continue reading to learn more about Grotto Falls Trail in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

You’ll be walking through an old-growth hemlock forest on the way to Grotto Falls. This hike is only two to three hours long and goes through various environments. You’ll pass through the forest’s ancient giants and large eastern hemlock trees.

The springtime wildflowers on this trail, such as yellow trillium, Dutchman’s breeches, and stitchwort, will make your walk even more beautiful.

This trail is usually packed with visitors during the high season, but it can be quieter during the off-season. Picnic tables along creeks and charcoal grills make for a relaxing hike. You can even cook your own food or enjoy a relaxing picnic anywhere in the park.

This hike is excellent for families, and there’s no need to bring your dog! Just be sure to bring plenty of water and snacks.

The trail begins on Clingmans Dome Road, a short distance south of Newfound Gap Overlook. Grotto Falls is the only waterfall in the park that you can walk behind.

This 2.6-mile round-trip hike gains about 585 feet in elevation and crosses four small streams without a bridge. It’s the perfect place for storybook creatures.

And the best part? You’ll be able to take a fantastic family photo!

Address: Trillium Gap Trail, Gatlinburg, TN 37738, United States      Phone: +1 865-436-1291

Rainbow Falls Trail

If you’re looking for a hike in the Smoky Mountains, you should consider hiking the Rainbow Falls Trail.

Rainbow Falls Trail Great Smoky
Rainbow Falls Trail

This 80′ (24.4 m) waterfall is located on the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail in Gatlinburg. In 2017, the Rainbow Falls trail received a complete makeover, including drainage elements, trail reparations, and over 350 stone steps.

It is now a more comfortable trail for hikers. You’ll also notice that the stone steps have been replaced with hardwood bridges.

The Rainbow Falls trail is 2.7 miles long, with the highest waterfall at 80 feet. Hikers can expect to spend three to five hours hiking the trail. It’s easy to find the trailhead. The trailhead is near the intersection of Waterville Road and Pigeon River.

There’s a large parking area at the trailhead. The hike is moderately challenging and takes between three and five hours. It’s possible to extend your hike by another 4 miles or climb Mount Le Conte. The latter is only recommended for advanced hikers.

The Rainbow Falls Trail is located near the second parking lot, and you can find more information about the trail and the waterfalls on the website.

The trailhead is situated near the second parking lot, and the road crosses over to the main trail at an angle. A sign along the trail will tell you where to park and what to bring for hiking.

This trail can be difficult for beginners, but it’s not impossible for those who enjoy hiking.

Abrams Falls Trail

Abrams Falls is a 20-foot waterfall that cascades into a deep pool at the bottom of the trail.

Abrams Falls Trail
Abrams Falls Trail

It is named for a Cherokee chief, and the trail winds through a hemlock and rhododendron forest as it follows the creek. The trail is about five miles round-trip and is considered moderately difficult.

Be sure to wear appropriate footwear; swimming is not recommended due to a dangerous undertow and strong currents.

Hiking through the park is a rewarding experience. Abrams Falls is located near the 4th bridge. This waterfall flows down the stream, creating a large pool at the base. The mist from the falls feels cool to the touch, making it a popular place for picnics.

However, keeping kids nearby is best if you plan to hike in the park with them. A small creek runs beside the trail, so be aware of the current while hiking.

If you want to see waterfalls, you need to hike in the area. This area is known for its many wildlife. Black bears inhabit this area, so make sure you bring bear repellent spray with you. Remember, though, that bears are aggressive towards humans.

Therefore, the bear repellent spray is a must-have before embarking on a hike in this area. In addition to beautiful scenery, hiking the Abrams Falls Trail in the Smoky Mountains National Park is a fun activity for the whole family.

While hiking in the park, you’ll also have the chance to see a gorgeous waterfall, wildflowers, and wildlife along the way. The Abrams Falls Trail is part of the Cades Cove Loop Road and is considered moderately complex.

A moderate hike should take about three to four hours to complete. During peak season, the trail attracts more than a thousand visitors daily, so it’s best to hike early in the morning to avoid crowds and gridlock.

It’s also recommended to go hiking during the off-season if possible.

Twin Falls Trails

If you’re looking for a short hiking trail in the Great Smoky Mountains, you might consider trying the Twin Creeks Trail.

It is a short trail but lacks the old-growth cove forest, waterfalls, and other highlights of the other trails.

Twin Creeks is a practical choice for people with limited time or families with children, but you should be prepared for frequent creek crossings, overgrowth, and deadfall. Despite these drawbacks, the Twin Creeks Trail is still beautiful and is worth exploring.

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park offers hundreds of miles of hiking trails. Among these, 38 are popular day hikes.

They are all short but varied in terms of views and challenges. Some trails are even dog-friendly. Listed below are the 38 most popular hiking trails in the Park.

Some are closed for health reasons, so check with park officials before visiting. In the meantime, take some time to enjoy the park and get outside and explore!

Ramsey Cascades: This waterfall is located on the Lower Falling Branch of Hen Wallow Creek. It is two feet wide at its brink but spreads to twenty feet as it rushes down the rock face.

You can reach Hen Wallow Falls by hiking the Gabes Mountain Trail, which is 4.4 miles round trip. While you’re hiking, look for salamanders. During cold spells, the falls are often covered in ice.

Laurel Falls Trail

If you’re looking for a hike with waterfalls, Laurel Falls Trail in Great Smoky Mountain National Park is for you.

Laurel Falls Trail
Laurel Falls Trail

Located near the Sugarlands Visitor Center, this easy trail features a waterfall of 80 feet. You’ll experience the lush forests, deep ravines, and flowing streams along the way. Fall foliage is also a beautiful sight on the trail, a 2.6-mile round-trip hike.

The parking area for the Laurel Falls trailhead is easy to find and marked. After you’ve parked, you’ll find the trailhead just steps away.

However, parking can be a little difficult later in the day, so get there early. The Laurel Falls Trail is mostly flat and paved, so you can take a stroller. However, be aware that strollers will not fit too close to the falls.

The trail starts steep, but once you reach the top, you’ll find it has a more gradual incline as you progress; the trail winds from following a ridge to cutting into a ravine.

Depending on the time of year, you may encounter various types of wildlife, including bears, deer, and turkeys. During drier weather, you may find fewer animals, although it’s possible to catch good views in the distance.

The Laurel Falls Trail is paved, so you can walk the entire trail without getting lost in the forest. It’s also easy to navigate.

The trail rises gradually, but it’s not overly complex for even the most novice hiker. The elevation gain is only 314 feet, which makes it a manageable trail. Remember to stay alert and follow the trail signs, as it can get rough and slippery after heavy rain.

8. Chimney Tops Trail

The most iconic view in the Smoky Mountains is a hike to Chimney Tops. The trail to the top of the bare rock summit takes more than four miles to complete and is not recommended for novice hikers.

Chimney Tops Trail Great Smoky Mountains
Chimney Tops Trail

Despite this, many people enjoy the challenging hike. Listed below are some tips for enjoying this hike. Read on to learn about the best ways to hike Chimney Tops and prepare for your adventure.

This is one of the most popular hikes in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It’s a short hike but offers fantastic views. It gains 1,400 feet in about two miles, but it’s also one of the most strenuous and challenging hikes in the Smoky Mountains.

Be aware that the trail is very rocky and challenging. If you’re not familiar with hiking in the Smokies, be prepared to get dirty.

One of the best ways to get to the Chimney Tops is to drive up U.S. Highway 441 (which connects Gatlinburg, TN, with Cherokee, NC).

The park’s main entrance is located on U.S. Highway 441. You can get to the park’s picnic area from either side, and a large shady forest surrounds the 68 picnic sites.

If you’re planning to hike Chimney Tops, plan to spend at least three hours. The trail is rated as a moderate hike, though it does have some difficult sections.

The elevation gain makes this a challenging hike; some might find it too much work. Chimney Tops is also a great place to get the family together for a picnic! Ensure you bring a picnic blanket and a cooler of beverages to keep cool.

9. Things to Do in Great Smoky Mountains National Park: Little River Gorge Road

If you’re planning a trip to the Great Smoky Mountains, the road that leads to the park’s gorge is an excellent place to start. Known for its scenic views, it connects you to almost anywhere in the park.

Things to Do in Great Smoky Mountains National Park Little River Gorge Road
Little River Gorge Road

The drive will make you appreciate nature’s beauty and the history of Appalachia. Take a moment to learn more about the area’s history at one of the park’s museums.

There are several waterfalls along the way on Little River Road, otherwise known as Little-River Gorge Road. While these are not the largest waterfalls in the park, they’re beautiful and easy to reach.

You can even use Google maps to find them! The waterfalls are listed on Google Maps, so you can follow them as you drive along. You can even park your car and take a break at a picnic site or picnic area along the way.

Another popular route through the park is the Little River Gorge Road, which leads to Cades Cove. The drive along the gorge is beautiful, but be sure to slow down and enjoy the scenery.

You can also visit the Sugarlands Visitor Center in Gatlinburg, where you can pick up maps and information on special events. Once you’re on Little River Gorge Road, you’ll find the quaint town of Cades Cove on the opposite side of the park.

Be aware of the curvy road, however, and take the time to enjoy the scenery and your journey.

Another way to experience the scenery in the Smokies is to drive the Little River Road. This road connects Gatlinburg and Townsend and meanders alongside the Little River for most of its length.

The road also offers several pull-offs, campsites, waterfalls, and picnic spots. Hiking is a great way to see the park; the best trails are right here.

10. Oconaluftee Visitor Center

The Oconaluftee Visitor Center is a historic building constructed in 1941 by the Civilian Conservation Corps. It was opened as a temporary visitor center in 1948. It has remained temporary for 60 years.

Oconaluftee Visitor Center
Oconaluftee Visitor Center

In 2016, the center will be returned to its original purpose as a meeting and office space for the park’s various agencies. You can stop by and check out the exhibits or take a tour of the park.

The Smoky Mountains National Park offers several hiking trails, including the Cades Cover Loop. The park has three visitors’ centers: Sugarlands, Clingmans Dome, and Oconaluftee. Clingmans Dome has a smaller contact station at its base.

Visitors can check the weather conditions at these locations to determine when the weather is the best for hiking.

If you’re planning a day trip to the park, you can visit the Oconaluftee Visitor Center, located on US 441, about a half-mile past the Blue Ridge Parkway. There, you can see a museum featuring the history of life in the Smoky Mountains.

You can also buy maps, souvenirs, and other helpful publications. If you see the elk, it’s best to go to the Oconaluftee Visitor Center in the mid-late afternoon.

The Smoky Mountains National Park is home to many different museums, including a museum focusing on the area’s rich cultural history.

The Smoky Mountain Museum complements the Sugarlands Visitor Center’s museum showcasing the park’s biodiversity and natural resources. The museum’s exhibits begin with the early people of the Smokies – the Cherokee.

The Cherokee’s use of fire to encourage trees is shown in an interactive exhibit.

Address: 1194 Newfound Gap Rd, Cherokee, NC 28719, United States    Phone: +1 828-497-1904

11. Blue Ridge Parkway

The Blue Ridge Road offers an incredibly scenic drive through the Great Smoky Mountains. The parkway has over 200 scenic overlooks, 26 tunnels, and forests to explore. You’ll hear Bluegrass music, see elk, black bears, and wild turkeys, and stop to take in the Cherokee history.

Blue Ridge Parkway Great Smoky Mountains
Blue Ridge Parkway, Great Smoky Mountains

You can also visit a winery or country store. The Blue Ridge Parkway is open year-round.

The Blue Ridge Road runs through two National parks in North Carolina. It’s the most visited road in the National Park System, with more visitors driving along the streets than the Grand Canyon.

It’s stunning, and there’s much to see and do along the way. The Blue Ridge Parkway connects two beautiful National Parks and offers plenty of opportunities for outdoor adventures. If you’re in the area, consider renting a vacation home that has spectacular views.

If you’re traveling in the fall, the changing leaves and temperatures make the Blue Ridge Parkway a popular place to see the park.

This eighty-five-mile road features breathtaking fall foliage. Although the area is less popular during the summer, fall is a great time to visit. You can also find the Smokies at their peak in the spring. You’ll also find many interesting cultural destinations along the way.

Hiking is another popular outdoor activity on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Over one hundred hiking trails are available for your enjoyment.

Try the Abbott Lake Trail, Sharp Top Trail, and Rough Ridge. You can also enjoy fishing, bird watching, and photography. You’ll be amazed at how gorgeous the parkway can be, whether you’re in the fall or spring!

And don’t forget to bring your camera, as the parkway is dotted with beautiful wildflowers.

12. Alum Cave Trail

The Alum Cave Trail in the Great Smoky Mountains is a hike close to the park’s historic LeConte Lodge.

Alum Cave Trail
Alum Cave Trail

Hikers can make reservations to stay in the lodge during the summer months. Alternatively, hikers can purchase lunch at the lodge.

Near the lodge, hikers can visit Cliff Tops and Myrtle Point. From here, they can enjoy the forest scenery and calming sounds of LeConte Creek.

The Alum Cave Bluffs Trail is one of the most popular trails in the national park, but be prepared to see many hikers simultaneously. It is the shortest trail to the top of Mt. LeConte but not the easiest.

It is a challenging trail, so be prepared for crowds. Listed below are some of the highlights of the Alum Cave Trail.

The Alum Cave Bluffs trail is a unique hiking path that offers a wealth of payoffs. The views are impressive, with numerous overlooks along the way. This hike also boasts a whitewater section on Walker Camp Prong and Styx Branch.

While there is plenty to see along the way, it requires serious physical preparation. The trail is only about 3 miles long, but it is well worth the effort.

One section of the trail has a cliff section that leads right to the cliff’s edge. It is hard to capture the beauty of this section from photos because of the lack of sunlight.

It was overcast on the day we visited the park, so we didn’t get any pictures of this area. Despite the rain, we could still enjoy the view from our favorite viewpoint.

13. Cherohala Skyway 

A scenic drive through the mountains is not something to miss when visiting the Smoky Mountains.

Cherohala Skyway 
Cherohala Skyway

The Cherohala Skyway is less than 40 miles long and climbs through the heavily forested backcountry of Tennessee. The road offers many scenic views and hiking opportunities, including the Bald River and Baby Falls.

Whether on a budget or planning a day trip, the Skyway is a great way to enjoy the scenery.

The mountainous region is home to a wide variety of natural attractions, including numerous hiking trails and the Great Smoky Mountain Railroad.

There are a variety of activities to keep you busy in the mountains, including zipline adventures and guided hikes.

Cherohala Skyway Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Cherohala Skyway

Visitors can also participate in a wilderness-oriented wildflower pilgrimage. Other activities for families include a hike along the Appalachian Trail, a cooking class, and a photography workshop.

There are also countless opportunities to engage in a nighttime bat walk to learn about the fascinating species of this nocturnal creature.

For those who are handicapped, the Skyway offers several accessible overlooks. The main lookout is accessible via a short flight of stairs leading to a wooden platform. For those unable to climb stairs, a paved trail leads to the viewing platform.

A variety of wildlife and scenic views await you along the way. Wildlife viewing is another option for those with disabilities. During spring, black bears and other animals are very active.

Address: 4793 Santeetlah Rd, Robbinsville, NC 28771, United States     Phone: +1 800-245-5428

14. Cataloochee Valley Overlook

If you’re a big fan of the Great Smoky Mountains, you may want to try driving to the Cataloochee Valley Overlook.

Cataloochee Valley Overlook Great Smoky Mountains
Cataloochee Valley Overlook Great Smoky Mountains

Although it’s a ten-mile drive, the gravels here are well-maintained. The overlook is a scenic location with moderate views of the surrounding mountains. The view from the overlook is not spectacular, but it’s still well worth it.

The Cataloochee Valley Overlook in Great Smoky Mountains National Park is one of the park’s most beautiful and picturesque areas. This area was once a thriving mountain settlement with farms and orchards.

The area is a must-see and is free to visit. There are no park fees or reservations, and there are no gates. To see this beautiful area, plan on spending a few hours driving and walking through the valley.

There are two different entrances to the park, so you can choose the one that suits your schedule best. One in North Carolina offers three waterfalls, while another one is located in Tennessee.

The official overlook has tree cover in the foreground, but you’ll be able to see the mountains in full view if you head downhill a bit. While you’re driving, be sure to check the speed limit as you travel through the park.

The Cataloochee Valley Overlook offers a beautiful view of the surrounding area, including a large tract of land once inhabited by nearly a thousand people.

Today, many homes, churches, and barns have been lost in the forest, but the National Park Service has preserved a few. The valley’s Little Cataloochee Trail and the nearby Palmer Chapel will give you a glimpse into the past.

Address: 274-304 Cataloochee Entrance Rd, Waynesville, NC 28785, United States

15. Camping in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park

If you want to spend the night in the Smokies but don’t want to bring your tent, you can camp outside the park.

Camping in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Camping in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park

There are several campgrounds in the park, and you can choose the one that suits your needs the best. You can also select a lodge outside the park.

If you’re unsure about which campground to choose, talk to a Parks Expert. They can help you plan your trip, so you don’t miss anything important.

The Great Smoky Mountains have plenty to offer the avid outdoorsman. You’ll enjoy hiking and fly-fishing in the park’s forests. The area is also rich in history, with countless historical buildings that you can explore.

You can find them in Cades Cove, Oconoluftee, and Cataloochee. If you’re a history buff, you’ll be interested in visiting the historic buildings.

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is located just an hour from Asheville. It’s half-in North Carolina and half-in Tennessee. Hiking in the Smokies will give you a spectacular view of the surrounding mountains.

However, there are a few tips and etiquette to keep in mind before setting up camp in this park. Just as with any national park, the Smokies have its own rules and regulations.

Aside from the campgrounds, you can also hike to nearby waterfalls. There are two hiking trails in the park, Laurel Falls and Rainbow Falls, which are moderate to difficult and take approximately two to three hours to complete.

You can also camp in Cades Cove, which is one of the most popular areas of the national park. In addition to hiking and biking, the Cades Cove Loop Road is also historically significant.

16. Elkmont Ghost Town

The history of the ghost town of Elkmont begins as a logging camp in 1805. The area was also home to trappers and homesteaders.

Elkmont Ghost Town
Elkmont Ghost Town

Logs were cut from the surrounding forests and shipped to Knoxville for processing. By 1907, the Little River Lumber Company purchased 50 acres and constructed a hotel, clubhouse, and cottages.

During the first years of the 20th century, the ghost town of Elkmont was virtually unknown.

Once there, visitors should take a leisurely stroll along the Nature Trail in Elkmont. The trail is easy to follow and is approximately one-mile roundtrip.

Many people enjoy the scenery, wildflowers, and bird watching along this trail. Afterward, take some time to stroll along Little River Road to the Elkmont Ghost Town. If you’d like to see the old buildings and signs describing the site’s history, this is a must-see!

The town has several historic buildings in Elkmont, and the Elkmont Historic District is filled with restored cabins. These buildings were once popular logging towns and a resort for Knoxvillians.

The National Park Service has an educational section about the town’s history. They also explain why some buildings have been preserved. If you visit Elkmont, you’ll find out how some of the residents lived and what the area was like for them.

Unlike other towns in the Smoky Mountains, Elkmont is ghost town-like in nature. It’s the last place people would want to visit if they’re looking for a unique experience. Those who visit Elkmont may find it difficult to imagine the town without the historic structures.

The National Park Service is working to restore the buildings that remain. The project will likely take years, but the effort will make Elkmont Ghost Town a quaint place to explore.

17. Tuckaleechee Caverns

Tuckaleechee Caverns is an underground cave in the Smoky Mountains. While it is relatively easy to navigate, some parts of the cave are muddy.

Tuckaleechee Caverns
Tuckaleechee Caverns

Wear sneakers or sturdy boots. Bring your camera. The caverns are also worth exploring on a rainy day. Whether you choose to stay inside or out, a tour through the caves will leave you with a lasting memory.

Tuckaleechee Caverns is the highest-rated cave in the United States and is located in Townsend, Tennessee. The cave is estimated to be 20-30 million years old and has several spectacular features.

It features a 200-foot drop, a cold underground stream, and a unique geological formation known as the Big Room.

The caves are located about 20 miles from Townsend and are accessible via U.S. Highway 321 or Cavern Road. The caves are open seven days a week, but the valley’s cellular GPS signal is weak.

The caves are open to the public year-round, but they are best visited during the warmest months when temperatures are at an optimum 58 degrees.

Aside from the caves, this area is also famous for its rafting. Tuckaleechee was home to Cherokee settlers in the 1800s. A loop road encircles the area and is open to vehicles except for posted signs.

You can also hike nearby mountains, such as Abrams Fall and Thunderhead Mountain. If you want to get close to nature, consider hiking the Cades Cove Nature Trail.

Address: 825 Cavern Rd, Townsend, TN 37882, United States     Phone: +1 865-448-2274

18. Things to Do in Great Smoky Mountains National Park: Ocoee River

If you plan a trip to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, you might be interested in trying whitewater rafting on the Ocoee River.

Things to Do in Great Smoky Mountains National Park Ocoee River
Ocoee River

This river offers excellent whitewater rafting on the weekends and during the week. The park’s upper dam releases water on weekends for whitewater rafting. Adventures Unlimited is a favorite outfitter for this river adventure.

Getting to the Ocoee River in Great Smoky Mountain National Park is a pleasant and scenic way to explore the area. The park has nearly three dozen species of animals and birds. A walk along the river may provide the opportunity to see some of them.

Rafting trips on the Ocoee River are not for beginners. Experienced rafters can sign up for an expert-guided tour, which takes about five hours. The tour includes a picnic lunch halfway through the trip.

Tickets to this rafting adventure start at $40 per person, and the trip lasts approximately three hours. The journey takes about half a day, from check-in to check-out.

For a more relaxing float, the Ocoee River offers several options. For those who want to test their skills, try a zip-line tour or ropes challenge course. For a more adventurous experience, you can also try mountaintop zip-lining.

There are also numerous waterfalls and springs in the area. Bald River Falls is one such waterfall found in the Cherokee National Forest south of Tellico Plains.

There are many different activities available for people of all ages. You’ll definitely have a blast.

19. Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center

If you plan a trip to the Smoky Mountains, check out the Great Smoky Mountain Heritage Center.

Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center
Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center

This attraction is a must-see on any visit to the area. Not only will you learn about the area’s history, but you’ll also enjoy the many exhibits and events held at the Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center.

This museum is located in Townsend, Tennessee, and features a museum that showcases the natural and cultural history of the region.

Many interesting artifacts are on display here, including items used by Native Americans and early Tennessee pioneers. You can also visit the Historical Village, where you’ll find thirteen authentic buildings that were built in the region as early as 1850.

The museum is also home to traveling exhibits and an extensive collection of antique automobiles.

The Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center hosts several events throughout the year, including concerts and storytelling. In the auditorium, you can listen to free performances by local musicians.

The venue is also the site of community festivals. The dates for these events vary from year to year. However, many events choose to take place at the Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center.

Once you’ve paid your visit, you’ll be sure to find out which events are happening at the Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center in the coming year.

In addition to this museum, you can check out the Little River Railroad & Lumber Museum to learn about the area’s history.

Address: 123 Cromwell Dr, Townsend, TN 37882, United States     Phone: +1 865-448-0044

20. Things to Do in Great Smoky Mountains National Park: Foxfire Mountain Adventure Park

Are you an adventure seeker? Foxfire Mountain Adventure Park is a great place for that! They offer several adventure packages, from zip-lining to rock climbing.

Foxfire Mountain Adventure Park Smoky Mountains
Foxfire Mountain Adventure Park

There’s something for every type of group, and they offer many social media pages to share the adventure.

Located just outside Nashville, this park is a great way to spend an afternoon. The staff at Foxfire Mountain Adventure Park is friendly and knowledgeable.

The park features zipline tours for all ages and abilities. Zip-lining tours feature two sky bridges that are accessible to both children and adults.

Zip-lining requires closed-toed shoes. Be sure to dress comfortably so you can enjoy the activity. Some attractions require more experience, so check the park’s website for current hours. You can also rent an ATV to explore the park’s rugged terrain.

The park also boasts the longest zip-lining experience in the country. Visitors will be thrilled to find themselves at the top of the treetops 145 feet (475 feet). A swinging bridge is also a highlight of the park, as it is the longest suspension bridge in the country.

Whether you’re a thrill-seeker or simply a nature lover, Foxfire Mountain Adventure Park is the place for you.

Located in Sevierville, Tennessee, Foxfire Mountain Adventure Park features multiple zip-lining courses, swinging bridges, climbing walls, and ATV tours. A unique attraction, Foxfire Mountain is a family-owned, non-corporate place with something for everyone.

There’s zip-lining, rock climbing walls, and a ropes course to choose from. And don’t forget to take in the spectacular views of the Great Smoky Mountains during your stay!

Address: 3757 Thomas Ln, Sevierville, TN 37876, United States      Phone: +1 865-774-0727

Things to Do in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Things to Do in Great Smoky Mountains National Park