I’m excited for you to read about one of my favorite places- Great Smoky Mountain National Park. Even though this park isn’t on the quiet side when it comes to visitors, there is still plenty of space for solitude and adventure. The amount of hiking trails, waterfalls, wildlife, and accessibility to bars and restaurants is rare for park boasting this much beauty. So, without further ado, here are the best things to do in and near Great Smoky Mountain National Park. 🙂
The smoky mountains are home to some amazing hikes, many of which include waterfalls…..and who can say no to waterfalls?? Here is a list of some of my favorites:
Gatlinburg Trail Spruce Flat Falls Cades Cove
-Grotto Falls (Easy) – 2.6 miles
-Spruce Flat Falls (Moderate) – 1.8 miles
-Laurel Falls (Moderate) – 2.4 miles
-Abrams Falls (Moderate) – 5.5 miles
-Mt. LeConte by way of Alum Cave (Hard) – 10 miles
-Rainbow Falls (Moderate) – 5 miles
When most people think of National Parks, wine tasting isn’t exactly the first thing that comes to mind. Well, good news for all you winos, there are numerous wineries and even a “wine trail” available very close the the park. The wine trail includes the following wineries:
- Hillside Winery
- Apple Barn Winery
- Apple Barn Cider House
- Mountain Valley Winery
- Mill Bridge Winery
Tip: If you plan to do the wine trail, be sure to have a designated driver because you must drive between each winery. Otherwise you can take the shuttle.
When it comes to National Parks, I always opt to to stay in the park if possible. However, LeConte Lodge, in Smoky Mountain National Park is a bit different than most national park lodges. First off, the only way to get to Mt. LeConte is by hiking approximately 5.5 miles (one way) as there are no roads. There are many paths to Mt. LeConte, however, I recommend going by way of Alum Cave. Once you reached the summit, it will all make sense why you traveled the difficult path to get there. The views are amazing and you can’t get any closer to wilderness than this. To read more about a hiking trip to Mt. LeConte, click here.
I know that hiking 5 plus miles to your lodge isn’s always an option. So if you aren’t up to hiking to your hotel, here are some other wonderful options that you can drive to :):
- Dancing Bear Lodge
- This is in Townsend, TN, which is known as the quiet side of the mountain, and is located right next to Cades Cove Cellar.
- Cabin rentals (VRBO or Airbnb)
- Both Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge are busy but most cabins are outside of town and offer some solitude while still being close to activities.
- Greenbrier Campground
Dancing Bear Lodge Dancing Bear Lodge S’mores
Other Things to Do
Besides hiking and just enjoying nature, there are a ton of other activities to partake in while visiting Smoky Mountain NP. Here are some of my favorites:
- Drive (or bike) the Cades Cove Loop
- Horseback Riding (I recommend Cades Cove Riding Stables)
- Walk downtown Gatlinburg and explore the great shops and restaurants
- Go Fly Fishing- Fly Fishing the Smokies offers guided tours and information on permits.
- Anakeesta Theme Park – This theme park is a bit more special because it offers a gorgeous canopy walk through the woods, great view and a great place to get a beer.
- Catch a Show at Dolly Parton’s Stampede
As you can imagine, the Smoky Mountains are really something special. I hope I have inspired you to get out there and plan your first (or next) trip to this amazing park!