When you’re this close to the Great Smoky Mountains, you have to visit the national park! You’ll find there are plenty of activities you’ll want to try and you’ll only find in the Smokies. Here are the top 6 things you’ll want to do in the Great Smoky Mountains:
1. Drive the Cades Cove Loop
One of the most popular destinations in the Great Smoky Mountains is Cades Cove! It has an 11-mile paved road you can drive. As you’re going along the road, you’ll have incredible views of the Great Smoky Mountains, and some valleys where you might see black bears, white tailed deer, and wild turkey. In the spring and summer, you’ll find all kinds of wildflowers, while in the fall, the leaves are colorful. Plus, there’s a ton of historic buildings throughout Cades Cove, allowing people to see what life was life in the pioneer days.
2. See the Sugarlands Visitor Center
Want to learn more about the Great Smoky Mountains before you head out into them? The Sugarlands Visitor Center has a small museum on the national park and provides all kinds of information. You can watch a 20-minute movie on the park, look around at artifacts and pictures, and browse in the gift shop. This is a great stop before you head out!
3. Stop By the Sinks
The Sinks is a unique place in the Great Smoky Mountains. To see the Sinks, there’s a parking area off of Little River Road, about 12 miles west of the Sugarlands Visitor Center. While the Sinks isn’t tall, the volume of water rushing over the rocks is impressive. The currents of the water in this area are high, and there are signs posted in this area to advise visitors not to get in the water.
4. Dip Your Feet in the Water
When it is hot, you probably want to get in the water! One of the safer areas in the Great Smoky Mountains to dip your feet in the water is in Townsend at the Y, located where Townsend Entrance Road, Little River Gorge Road, and Laurel Creek Road intersect. Some of the water is deep enough to swim in, while the rest of it is knee deep or less. Mountain water is chilly, making it perfect for hot summer days! Many people bring inner tubes and float down the river for fun. There’s also a tubing outpost called River Rat where you can pay to ride tubes down the river if you don’t have your own!
5. Have a Picnic
Stop by the grocery story, grab some food, and take it to the Great Smoky Mountains for a family and friend picnic! Cades Cove has a great picnic area with tables and charcoal grills you can use next to a creek. Metcalf Bottoms also has a picnic area with tables and grills next to a river. If you don’t want to prepare your own meal, grab a family pack from Bennett’s Pit Bar-B-Que or Calhoun’s!
6. Take a Hike
With over 850 miles of hiking trails in the Great Smoky Mountains, you have plenty of them to choose from! Trails range from easy to difficult, so no matter what your physical ability is, there’s a hiking trail for you! Some easy ones include the Gatlinburg Trail and Laurel Falls. Moderate trails include Grotto Falls and Andrews Bald Trail. Some difficult trails include Ramsey Cascades and any trail that leads to Mt. LeConte.
No matter what you want to do in the Great Smoky Mountains, you’ll find something fun for you and your group! Wondering what you can do in Pigeon Forge? Check out these fun things to do you don’t want to miss!