Things to do in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Things to do in  Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Altitude with attitude

Preserving one of the most biodiverse spots on the planet, Great Smoky Mountains is the most-visited national park in the US. Visitors—usually based out of Gatlinburg or Pigeon Forge—get the chance to spot black bears, hike across ancient mountains, hunt for waterfalls, and bike or walk through the famous 11-mile (17-kilometer) Cades Cove, for free. Come autumn, the list of things to do in Great Smoky Mountains National Park gets even more impressive, as you’ll walk, hike, bike, or drive through some of the most striking fall foliage in the country.

Top 1 attractions in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Museum of the Cherokee Indian

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The Museum of the Cherokee Indian is home to vibrant displays that tell the story of the Cherokee people, from their paleo ancestry to their current lifestyles. Far more than an exhibit of artifacts, the museum keeps the tribe’s culture alive through education, events, and traditional gatherings.More

Top activities in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

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All about Great Smoky Mountains National Park

When to visit

As the most-visited park in the National Park System, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park draws big crowds. More than 1.7 million visitors descended on the park in July 2021 alone. When it comes to weather, you’ll find a green rush in spring, warm stretches in summer, and plenty of grand foliage in fall. If you’re going to visit during this period, try showing up early, before most tourists have had their morning coffee.

Getting around

With 384 miles of roads, Great Smoky Mountains National Park is possibly the country’s best for a scenic drive. And while Cades Cove Loop and Newfound Gap Road are known for their traffic jams, the areas around Abrams Creek, Balsam Mountain, Cosby, Fontana Lake, and the Foothills Parkway stay far more secluded. No shuttles service the 800-square-mile park, so fill up that gas tank.

Traveler tips

Everybody hits Great Smoky Mountains National Park from theme-park-laden Gatlinburg—for something different, head to Townsend. Home to the Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center and just a few hundred residents, Townsend is the place that in-the-know visitors don’t want anyone else to find out about. Pair hiking the Rich Mountain Loop, near the Townsend entrance, with a night at Dancing Bear Appalachian Bistro and a plate of crispy barbecue oysters.

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US Dollar ($)
Time Zone
EST (UTC -5)
Country Code
+1
Language(s)
English
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Tours
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People Also Ask

What is the time of year to visit the Great Smoky Mountains National Park?

The best time of year to visit Great Smoky Mountains National Park depends on what you’re looking for. To avoid crowds, visit in September—and you’ll still have good weather. To catch the Smokies’ famous fall foliage, visit in October.

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How many days do you need in Great Smoky Mountains National Park?

Three days is good for a Great Smoky Mountains National Park without feeling too rushed, although four or five days is better for avid hikers. In three days, you can explore Cades Cove, see a waterfall or two, drive Newfound Gap Road, and hit Clingmans Dome, the park’s highest point.

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What is the most popular destination in Great Smoky Mountains National Park?

The most popular destination in Great Smoky Mountains National Park is Cades Cove. It’s navigated via a single-lane, one-way loop road—and the speed limit is 20 mph (32 kpm). This area is famous for wildlife, pioneer architecture, and traffic jams. Come early in the morning to avoid the crowds.

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What are 3 places that you would want to visit if you went to Great Smoky Mountains National Park?

The most popular area of Great Smoky Mountains National Park is Cades Cove, a wildlife-rich valley navigated by a one-way, single-lane road (go early to avoid crowds). Most visitors also want to drive to the top of Clingmans Dome and hike to one of the 100-plus waterfalls, like Laurel Falls.

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What activities can people do when visiting the Great Smoky Mountains?

Most travelers come to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park to hike, picnic, see wildlife and waterfalls, learn about pioneer history, and take scenic drives through beautiful natural areas like Cades Cove and Newfound Gap. Come autumn, many visitors add leaf-peeping to their Smoky Mountain itinerary.

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What can you do at Great Smoky Mountains National Park?

There’s a lot to do at Great Smoky Mountains National Park, one of the most biodiverse spots in the United States. Most visitors will enjoy hiking, exploring waterfalls, taking scenic drives, picnicking on mountains, learning about pioneer history, scouting for wildlife (deer, elk, black bears), and leaf-peeping in fall.

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Frequently Asked Questions
The answers provided below are based on answers previously given by the tour provider to customers’ questions.
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What are the top things to do in Great Smoky Mountains National Park?
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What are the top activities in Great Smoky Mountains National Park?
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What are the top things to do near Great Smoky Mountains National Park?
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Check out things to do near Great Smoky Mountains National Park: