The Great Smoky Mountains are a sight to behold. The mountain ranges are stretched from Tennessee to the borders of North Carolina, in the southeastern part of the United States of America. The lush greenery and beautiful wildlife make this a popular destination for tourists who want to enjoy the outdoors. This place support around 1,400 kinds of flower plants and hundreds of species of trees. In addition to its natural beauty, the park is home to many attractions that cater specifically to visitors. Here are ten things to do in the Smoky Mountains.
Things to Do in the Great Smoky Mountains
Whether you’re into visiting historical sites or want to get away from it all in the mountains, there’s plenty to do and see in the Great Smoky Mountains. Here are some great places you can visit while in town.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is one of Tennessee’s most popular tourist destinations. With over 800 miles of trails, campgrounds, and educational programs for all ages, it’s no wonder this park hosts over 9 million visitors yearly.
For those who want to get away from city life but still feel connected to nature, backcountry camping offers a chance to be as close as possible while still having amenities nearby. However, this type of camping requires advanced planning because there are specific regulations you must follow before heading out into the wilderness.
Related Read: Things to Do in the Smoky Mountains in Autumn
Gatlinburg is a popular tourist destination in Tennessee and the gateway to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It’s known for its shopping and restaurants, including family-friendly Resorts. While planning to explore the wildlife, flora, fauna, folklore, and hiking trails of this fascinating range with your family, ensure to choose a cozy family resort for a comfortable stay.
With a limited budget for boarding, you may opt for Great Smoky Mountain cabin getaways and enjoy a great experience of staying closer to nature in luxury cabins.
The city has several yearly festivals, including an annual Christmas parade. Gatlinburg also hosts themed weekend events that offer plenty of fun things to do with your family or friends.
Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail
The Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail is a beautiful drive that takes you through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The road winds through forests and over streams, with several stops along the way to see wildlife, waterfalls, and mountain views. You can drive this road yourself in your car or take a tour with one of many companies offering standard and customized tours.
The Foothills Parkway, a scenic drive through the mountains, is a great way to see the Great Smoky Mountains. It has many overlooks where you can pull over and take photos of the beautiful scenery. The many things to do in the Great Smoky Mountains are endless, but one of my favorites is driving on this road. If you’re looking for something more active or adventurous, try renting an ATV.
Alum Cave Trail
Alum Cave is located in the Great Smoky Mountains near Gatlinburg, Tennessee. The Alum Cave Trail is a 1.5-mile trail that leads from its start point at the Trillium Gap Trailhead to the bottom of Alum Cave Bluff. It’s relatively easy and short, but you’ll be rewarded with a panoramic view of Little River Valley below.
The Alum Cave Trail is open year-round and takes about 45 minutes to hike each way. It makes it an excellent choice for families or people who don’t have much time to explore on vacation. However, you should ensure you’re prepared before setting out on slippery rocks.
Clingmans Dome is the highest point in the Great Smoky Mountains at 6,643 feet. It’s located inside the Great Smoky Mountains, a United States National Park since 1934.
The road to Clingmans Dome is paved and well-maintained, making it easy for tourists to make this hike. Both locals and tourists alike enjoy climbing Clingmans Dome. However, you should keep in mind that this climb is strenuous and challenging.
If you’re planning to visit Gatlinburg and want to enjoy a day out with the kids, Ober Gatlinburg is your best bet. This family-friendly amusement park has more than 30 rides, attractions, and shows. In addition, the park is open year-round, so no matter when you come to town, there will be plenty to do at this fun place.
The newest addition to Ober Gatlinburg is an outdoor roller coaster called “Lumberjack 4D”. It takes riders through an animated lumberjack story on a screen above them as they ride. There are also indoor games for children at the Arcade Building, where you can win tickets for prizes or get tokens for redemption in their prize store.
Other attractions include flying swings that take passengers 20 feet above the ground, bumper cars, go-karts, mini golf, carousel rides, log flumes, and water slides.
Oconaluftee Visitor Center
The Oconaluftee Visitor Center is located within the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It’s a great place to stop for lunch or dinner as part of your journey through the mountains.
One of the best things about going here is that there is a gift shop with some unique items for sale. It includes souvenirs from local artists known for their wood and metal carving work. You’ll also find reasonably priced snacks if you need something quick before hitting up another attraction.
Chimneys Picnic Area
Chimneys Picnic Area is a popular spot to picnic and relax. It is located just off the parkway, so it’s easy to reach. This area features a short trail to a waterfall, picnic tables, restrooms, and a nice view of the mountains.
Chimneys Picnic Area is one of the most popular areas in the Great Smoky Mountains due to its easy access from U.S. Highway 441. In addition, the scenic views of farmland from atop Mt. LeConte are very admirable.
If you’re looking for a challenging hike with spectacular views, Anakeesta is the place to go. The trail begins on Sugarlands Mountain and winds its way over four peaks; Sugarland Mountain, Balsam Mountain, Little Balsam Mountain, and Mount LeConte. Along the way, you’ll encounter steep inclines, rocky outcroppings, and breathtaking views of the Smoky Mountains.
This trail is not recommended for those new to hiking or with any physical limitations that could affect their ability to complete this rigorous trail. It should also be avoided during the winter when snow covers some parts of the path, making it slippery and unsafe.
Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center
If you’re up for a bit of history, the Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center is located in Townsend, Tennessee. It’s a museum that exhibits the history of the Great Smoky Mountains and how people lived there before it became one of America’s most visited national parks. The center is open daily from 9 am to 5 pm, so plan your trip accordingly.
The Great Smoky Mountains Offers Something for Everyone
The Great Smoky Mountains are a great place to visit any time of year. With all the activities and attractions to choose from, it is easy to see why so many people come back year after year. If you have never been here before, you must put this on your travel bucket list for 2023.