The Great Smoky Mountains offer great opportunities to explore. These glorious mountains have hiking trails, waterfalls, and scenic drives that enthrall you with magnificence. The Smokies offer a unique landscape for every traveler, from the misty valleys to the deep gorges. The scenic drive through the national park will take you past stunning views, such as the famous Cades Cove, and there’s so much more to see. For adventure lovers, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park has no shortage of activities to enjoy. Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or just starting, here are 12 essential tips for the ultimate trip to the Great Smoky Mountains!
1. Get a Guidebook
The Great Smoky Mountain guidebooks are extremely helpful. These guides cover all hiking trails and tell you how long each hike takes, what kind of terrain it covers, and other important details. The books are full of information about the best hikes, restaurants, and attractions in the region. You’ll also learn a lot about the local history and culture. Choose a guidebook written by one of the local writers because they know the area well. Make sure to get your copy before heading into the backcountry!
2. Go Camping
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is home to some incredible campgrounds. The Smoky Mountain hiking trails are ideal for day trips or overnight camping excursions. The most popular spot is Clingman’s Dome, which offers gorgeous views of Mount Le Conte, but many others will be perfect for any traveler. When camping in the backcountry, bring all the essentials, including food, water, camping gear, and various essentials like a first aid kit. There aren’t many places to buy supplies in the backcountry, so plan. It’s also important to remember that the rules can vary from one campsite to another. Some require permits or reservations, while others don’t. Ask at the visitor center if you need help finding the right spot. They are always happy to provide recommendations.
3. Keep Your Eyes Open
You might encounter a variety of animals during your visit. While most animals won’t pose any threat, there are some bears and poisonous snakes that you should try to avoid at all costs. Be on the lookout for black bears because they’re the most common in the Great Smoky Mountains. Black bears can range from 100 to 600 pounds, so you don’t want to mess with them. Their large size and fast reflexes mean any sudden attack can result in serious injuries if you get too close. Like black bears, brown snakes prefer to keep to themselves, so they rarely attack humans. However, you never know when you might come across one. Wear closed-toe shoes and long pants whenever you move through thick foliage to protect yourself. It’s also wise to carry a stick or rocks on hikes to defend yourself against snakes.
4. Pack a First Aid Kit
You can easily get hurt while exploring the Great Smoky Mountains. You might twist an ankle or slip on a rock while hiking. A first aid kit can help save you from the consequences of a nasty injury while walking in the backcountry. In the event of any major accidents, make sure to call 911. It would be best if you also had a cell phone for emergencies.
5. Bring Your Camera
You can pull over and snap a photo in hundreds of places. The Great Smoky Mountains are full of photo opportunities, so bring your camera. You’ll find plenty of scenic spots and beautiful vistas throughout the park. There are a variety of museums and attractions in Gatlinburg that you can stop by for a few minutes or hours. One of the best ways to experience the Great Smoky Mountains is to take a scenic drive. You can make time for stops at interesting landmarks and historic sites and snap a few great pictures. The Great Smoky Mountains are full of amazing landscapes, so you’ll want to capture as many of them as possible.
6. Explore Outdoors
You’ll need to explore the outdoor scene to get the most out of your visit to the Great Smoky Mountains. Several fun outdoor activities include hiking, fishing, and paddling. The Smoky Mountain National Park offers plenty of hiking trails, both easy and difficult. Make sure to pick the route that fits your skill level. You can start on the easier paths and work your way up to more challenging ones. There are also numerous lakes and rivers throughout the region where you can spend a relaxing afternoon. Make sure to pack a cooler with snacks and drinks. Fishing isn’t exactly easy, but it can be fun. Paddleboarding and kayaking are great ways to explore the area. Book well in advance if you plan on renting a boat or paddleboard.
7. Take a Hike
There are dozens of hiking trails throughout the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Many of these trails offer gorgeous views. They also lead you through the most magnificent wild forests in America. There are countless hiking trails to choose from, so plan your trip. When looking for a soundtrack, focus on hikes shorter than 10 miles that don’t require you to climb a mountain. Most people can manage a hike of 3 to 5 miles, and you’ll find plenty of options within that range. Make sure to check the weather before setting out on a trek. It’s always better to be safe than sorry. The last thing you want is to get stuck on top of a mountain during a thunder or snowstorm.
8. Visit the Dollywood Theme Park
The Dolly Parton theme park is a must-see attraction in the Great Smoky Mountains. This park has thrilling rides, exciting shows, and fun attractions. If you’ve ever been to Disney World, you’ll feel at home at this theme park. There are tons of roller coasters and other thrill rides to enjoy. For those who prefer the slower pace, there are plenty of shows, live performances, and comedy acts. There are several fun attractions for children, including mini-golf courses, carnival games, and kid-friendly rides. The park is open every day except Christmas Day.
9. Ride the Ober Gatlinburg Tramway
One of the most popular attractions in the Great Smoky Mountains is the Ober Gatlinburg Tramway. This tourist attraction takes visitors high above the ground, allowing them to appreciate the spectacular beauty below. The tickets are available at the base in Gatlinburg. You’ll want to take the tram if you’re going to visit the Ober Gatlinburg Amusement Park and Ski Area to ski, snowboard, or try the indoor skating rink and not to mention the Ski Mountain Roller Coaster ride.
10. Go Stargazing
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is also one of America’s premier stargazing destinations. The night skies are dark and starry, providing you with a chance to spot all types of celestial bodies. You can learn about the stars at the Ober Gatlinburg Planetarium. The planetarium is open every day during winter but closes for a few months during the summer. The Great Smoky Mountains are also home to Dark Skies Preserve, which was created to protect the night skies. There are plenty of hotels and resorts that offer packages that include stargazing opportunities.
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The Great Smoky Mountains is a fantastic destination for anyone looking to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life. There are many things to do here, from relaxing drives to adventurous treks. Whether you spend your days hiking, visiting museums, riding roller coasters, or playing miniature golf, you won’t regret staying in the Great Smokies.