Great Smoky Mountains National Park
There are about ten million visitors each year, which makes the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the most visited National Park in the United States. The park is open year round; however, some campgrounds, secondary roads, and facilities are closed during the winter. There are no fees to enter The Great Smoky Mountains National Park but donation boxes are placed throughout the park and your donation is appreciated. This area is world renowned for its wide range of plant and animal wildlife, along with the beautiful scenery, mountain ranges, and its Southern Appalachian culture.
The Smokies are considered to be a “tourist paradise” with plenty of great things its visitors can enjoy. Auto and motorcycle tours, touring the spectacular sights of the beautiful mountains, camping, picnicking, hiking, biking, fishing, wildlife and flora viewing are some of the most popular activities in the Smoky Mountains. Cades Cove is one of the most popular spots in the park.
Whether you enjoy the challenge of a strenuous hike to the peak of a mountain or prefer to sit quietly and watch the sun set, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park offers a many activities for you to enjoy. The hardest part may be choosing which auto tour, picnic site, hiking trail, waterfall, overlook, or historic area to explore!
Choose from over 800 miles of trails ranging from peaceful walkways to multi-day backpacking treks through the backcountry to Mt.LeConte or along the Appalachian Trail. Hikers enjoy the Smoky Mountains during all months of the year with every season offering is own special rewards.
During winter, the absence of leaves opens new vistas along trails and reveals stone walls, chimneys, foundations, and other reminders of past residents. Spring provides a weekly parade of blooming wildflowers and flowering trees. In summer, walkers can seek out cool retreats among the spruce-fir forests and balds or follow mountain streams to roaring waterfalls and cascades. Autumn hikers in the Smokies have crisp, dry air to sharpen their senses and beautiful fall colors to enjoy throughout the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Historic Places and Buildings
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park holds one of the best collections of log buildings in the eastern United States. Nearly 80 historic structures – houses, barns, outbuildings, churches, schools, and grist mills have been preserved or rehabilitated in the park. The best places to see them are at Cades Cove, Cataloochee, Oconaluftee, and along the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail.
The park has hundreds of miles of horse trails and five drive-in horse camps. If you don’t own a horse, four rental stables provide mounts and guides. If you want to rent a horse, horseback riding by the hour is available from mid-March through late November at four commercial stables located in the park. Rates average $20 per hour. Weight limits and age restrictions may apply. Please call the stable you are interested in for operating hours and hourly rates.
- Cades Cove – near Townsend, TN (865) 448-6286 (also offers hayrides and carriage rides)
- Smokemont – near Cherokee, NC (828) 497-2373
- Smoky Mountain – near Gatlinburg, TN (865) 436-5634.
- Sugarlands – near Gatlinburg, TN (865) 436-3535.