Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Activities Abound For All
Gatlinburg has been blessed to sit at the entrance to our nation’s most visited national park. Often noted as one of America’s great treasures, it features over half-million acres of mountain timber in scenic hills and valleys that millions come to visit year after year and view its beauty from hiking trails, picnic areas by mountain streams, hilltops and scenic drive overlooks. Although the mountains offer these lovely natural vistas to sight-seers, the park is also a wonderful place for visitors of all ages to experience a wide range of activities. See below some general information on these activities from the Park’s website with links to the site’s full content.
Hiking the various trails in the park is a perfect way to experience the natural beauty and tremendous biodiversity of the Great Smoky Mountains. Over 800 miles of backcountry trails offer both experienced and novice hikers a wide variety of mountain views, valley vistas, wildlife and wildflowers, rushing streams and waterfalls as well as a few nice large rocks to sit upon and contemplate the natural beauty around you. There are short walks to scenic falls as well as some longer treks to Mt. LeConte, Mt. Cammerer, Chimney Tops, or Rocky Top/Thunderhead. Click here for additional information.
A simple scenic drive into the park at the Gatlinburg entrance offers a range of possibilities. As you wind your way through nearly 400 miles of mountain roadways you’ll discover valley views from hillside overlooks, pass along tumbling streams nature has carved through these hills and reach peaks of high mountain vistas that will take your breath away. Whether your drive is when spring blossoms, during summer months of rich green tree tones, days of autumn’s color splendor show or the majestic periods when winter snows decorate tree tops and mountain peaks, a tour on these roadways are always a visual adventure in themselves. Click here for additional information.
The national park has many picnic areas for visitors to get away to break bread with family or friends. Pack up a meal and find a natural nook for couples or a table outside or under a pavilion(some can be reserved in advance) in one of eleven designated picnic grounds, or simply plunk down on a rock off the trail or scenic overlook and enjoy! Click here for additional information.
Nature & Wildlife
The Great Smoky Mountains is one of the few International Biosphere Reserves in the world, and it is right here in the virtual backyard of the southeastern United States. What a wonder we have before us! Plant and animal species are being discovered every year in a natural realm that has been diversifying here for thousands of years. Over 1,600 species of wildflowers as well as annual displays from native rhododendron, flame azaleas and mountain laurel bloom through every season but winter. Over 100 species of trees and a similar number of shrubs cover nature’s garden.
There is just no tellin’ what sort of critter you may come upon. Black bears, white-tail deer, as well as the usual suspects of squirrel and hundreds of bird species inhabit the park. You may even come upon a flock of wild turkeys or momma bear with cubs on a driving tour. Click here for additional information.
History & Culture
Just over the mountain visit the Mountain Farm Museum for a taste of what life might have been like back in the settlement years of the early 1800’s. Elsewhere, there are over 80 preserved log structures within park boundaries. The Sugarland Visitor Center, just a short jaunt outside Gatlinburg has many displays, exhibits and books of information. Your appetite may just be whetted to grab a map and take a stroll on the Nature Trail to one of two remaining structures from the original Sugarlands community, just a short walk from the center. Click here for additional information.
The Park has over 2,000 miles of streams and protects one of the largest trout habitats in the eastern U.S. There are a variety of angling experiences available in the Park. Click here for more information.
Guided horseback rides are available in the Park from mid-March through late November at various concession riding stables. Rides on park trails are offered lasting from 45 minutes to several hours. Click here for additional information.