Great Smoky Mountains National Park Travel Guide

  • Sittin' on Top of the World
    Sittin' on Top of the World
    by Rickman77
  • Off The Beaten Path
    by Stephen-KarenConn
  • Oconaluftee Visitor Center, GSMNP, NC
    Oconaluftee Visitor Center, GSMNP, NC
    by noidiotsplease

Great Smoky Mountains National Park Highlights

  • Pro
    mrclay2000 profile photo

    mrclay2000 says…

     Cool, temperate, beautiful vistas, mountain streams 

  • Con
    goingsolo profile photo

    goingsolo says…

     Traffic, extreme summertime humidity and rain. 

  • In a nutshell
    goingsolo profile photo

    goingsolo says…

     Ten million people a year just can't be wrong. 

Great Smoky Mountains National Park Things to Do

  • Hike the Crooked Arm Ridge Trail

    This was a beautiful, easy, SHORT hike (1 mile RT) with a payoff at the end - a small, multi-tiered waterfall! This path takes you parallel to a large, open field usually populated with deer. It certainly was the day we walked it. In fact, as you can see from the photos, we stood very still on the path and two deer walked from the field and across...

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  • What you can't do - Mountain bike

    In the hundreds of tips already written here, I feel that most things were all ready covered quite well. And honestly, most of those tidbits can be found in the tourist brochures at the welcome center for ~$1/ea.But one thing that I had be researching before my trip was that mountain biking is not allowed at all within the park. I find this rather...

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  • Chimney Tops

    The Chimney Tops are a rock outcrop near Newfound Gap on the Tennessee side of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The hike and climb to the top is strenuous, but the views are fantastic and the climb up is fun if you're not afraid of heights. The trail starts from the parking lot on Newfound Gap Road (US-441), immediately crossing a bridge over...

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Great Smoky Mountains National Park Restaurants

  • Food Options In and Near the Park

    There are little to no options for food inside Great Smoky Mountains National Park; but there are plenty of choices in nearby towns. I ate at a nice barbecue restaurant in Gatlinburg, Tennessee and a very good restaurant (with great catfish) in Cherokee, North Carolina.

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  • Only food available in the park

    There are no concessions within the park and food is not available, with one exception. There is a small general store near at Cades Cove which sells basic staples for camping. If you'd rather not backtrack into Gatlinburg or Cherokee and didn't bring food with you, its worth considering, if you're in the Cades Cove area. Here you can find enough...

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  • A country music experience!!!!!

    This is a themed restaurant with a country music flair!!! The band "Alabama" has turned this place into a country music hall of fame. The walls are decorated with memorabillia from all the big country stars including themselves. In the middle of all the giltz and glam they really have good food!!!! They also have their very first tour bus in the...

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Great Smoky Mountains National Park Nightlife

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    by bigorange1103 Written Jul 15, 2005

    There is a wonderful light show everynight during the summer months in and around Elkmont campground. The fireflies that light in sync. I have not yet been able to witness this but I have read alot on it. They say this is the only area that they blink at the same time. I am hoping to go next month and try to catch them before they leave!!

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Great Smoky Mountains National Park Transportation

  • Cades Cove Loop Road

    The Cades Cove Loop Road is only 10 miles, but its a trip that can easily take an entire day. From the Sugarlands Visitor Center in Gatlinbugh, the road rises, falls and curves alongside a river before reaching the Cove. The speed limit on the road is 10 or 15 miles per hour, and people obey it. Cars roll along slowly, taking in the beauty of the...

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  • The trolley

    The area has a trolley system that runs through the towns of Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge. One of them go into the park to 2 destinations. It stops at the Sugarlands visitors center and Elkmont Campground.

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  • Great Smoky Mountains National Park Hotels

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Great Smoky Mountains National Park Shopping

  • Need camping supplies??

    If you are camping in the Cades Cove campground you might want to check out the campground store. It is located by the campground behind the picnic area. The store has your basic grocery items, camping items and souvenirs. You can also rent bikes and helmets here to ride in the cove.

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  • more gifts

    This visitors center is located on the North Carolina side of the park, just outside of Cherokee. It has the same type of items as Sugarlands but in a smaller quantity. There is something special about this one though. Behind the center is a trail that takes you through a working farm. It is called the Mountain Farm Museum and during the summer...

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  • Gifts

    Located just inside the park on the Gatlinburg side, there is a visitors center. This center has gifts, maps, books, music and anything else to do with the mountains!! There is also a free 20 minute film and exhibit that you do not want to miss!!!! The best selection of area related books!!!

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Great Smoky Mountains National Park Local Customs

  • Smokies Guide

    At any Visitor Center within the park you can obtain the Smokies Guide. This newspaper guide is very informative for trip planning, park info, special reports, events and visitor information.

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  • Graveyards

    The graveyards still stand today and one is located along the loop road. Most of the headstones are so eroded that the inscriptions are either completely worn away or illegible. But you can walk through and read some of them. I felt pretty creeped out so I just stayed outside the barrier and quickly headed away.The churches and graveyards were...

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  • Cades Cove- life as it once was

    In the 1800's, Cades Cove was home to some 600 people who built homes and churches and pretty much lived a quiet life until the national park was created. The loop road passes about 15 or so of the old cabin homes that were built by these early settlers. You can stop at each as there is a story behind every one, but, if time is limited, its best to...

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Great Smoky Mountains National Park Warnings and Dangers

  • Obey Warning Signs

    As always, you should obey all warning signs. They are there to for your safety and to protect the park, its wildlife, and its plants. Remember it is illegal to deface park property or to remove anything.

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  • Bears are Dangerous!

    The National Park Service offers flyers regarding the wild Black bear population in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. To quote from the flyer:"Black bears in the park are wild and sometimes unpredictable. Though rare, attacks on humans do occur, causing injury or death.* Never feed or approach a bear.* If a bear follows or approaches you,...

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  • Don't Trust Your Vehicle Navigation...

    Vehicle Navigation Systems and GPS units may provide inaccurate information in the mountains—sending drivers the wrong way on one-way roads or leading them to dead ends in remote areas. Free park road maps are available in park visitor centers.

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Great Smoky Mountains National Park Tourist Traps

  • Sevierville-Gatlinburg

    If you approach the Great Smoky Mountains from Tennessee, you'll probably enter along the Sevierville-Gatlinburg route. Watch out for numerous 'Information' and 'Visitor Centers'. Many are real estate operations seeking to get you to visit their timeshares or condo operations. If you're willing, you can get some good deals for overnight or longer...

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  • Gatlinburg

    Many will come to this small mountain town and view it as a tourist trap. It has its places that can be concidered a "trap" but over all it is a precious town. The architecture and quaintness is amazing. We love to just walk "the strip" at night and window shop and people watch!!!! It is my favorite place to stay when in the area. The few place I...

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Great Smoky Mountains National Park What to Pack

  • Packing List for Hiking in the Great...

    Backpack - to carry your gear Hiking boots - or at least athletic shoes. I'm always shocked at the number of teenage girls who think it is smart to hike in flip flops. Water repellant jacket/poncho - when hiking in the upper elevations of the mountains, it will be about 20º cooler than where you left from in Gatlinburg or Pigeon Forge. Also, there...

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  • Pack for anything!!!!!!

    The temp can change at a moments notice. Summer you are pretty ok. Its gonna be hot!!! Maybe pack a poncho for those summer showers. The rest of the time be prepared for cold or warm weather. Spring or Fall you could wear shorts one day and need a jacket the next!!!!!!! Hiking?? Maybe a small first aid kit and lots of water!!!!!! We always keep...

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Great Smoky Mountains National Park Off The Beaten Path

  • Hike to Spruce Flats Falls

    A beautiful - and lesser known - trail; if Boyd hadn't gone on a birdwalk with a local group, we would never have found out about this one, as it is not listed on any trail map we have. This is an easy/moderate walk - not particularly steep for most of the trail, but it is narrow (there are spaces where two people cannot walk side-by-side), and...

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  • And the silence was unbroken

    The beauty of the Smokies exceeded expectations. Then again, such expectations were grounded in a preference for points west, but, driving along Cades Cove Loop Road in the early morning stillness, I can't help but be captivated. A peaceful morning in a unique park with mountains shrouded in mist. Truly spectacular. I'm starting to get it now.

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  • WILDLIFE

    Visited the park many times, summer, fall & winter. ALWAYS see wildlife. The picture attached was at the Sugarland Visitor's Center. I also have pictures of Black Bear, Elk, Coyote and a large buck with a full rack, standing 4 feet from my car in Cades Cove. Hiking is always the best way to spot wildlife but it is alive and well in the SMNP. Enjoy...

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Great Smoky Mountains National Park Sports & Outdoors

  • Appalachian Trail

    Approximately 70 miles of the 2174 mile Appalachian Trail runs through Great Smoky Mountains National Park. This part of the trail goes by Clingman's Dome and generally follows the border between Tennessee and North Carolina. Good walking shoes, lots of water, food, sunscreen, a hat, insect repellant, weather appropriate clothing, don't forget...

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  • Clingman's Dome Trail

    The trail to Clingman's Dome is paved but parts of it is very steep. The trail is 1/2 mile long but rises 330 feet in that distance. Combine that with the elevation and the trail should only be attempted if you are in pretty good condition. If you feel faint or short of breath stop and rest or slow down. The views along the way, depending on the...

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  • Trails in Cades Cove

    There are trails leading to many of the attractions in Cades Cove. Most of these are short and level. Good walking shoes, water, sunscreen, a hat, insect repellant, a snack, weather appropriate clothing, don't forget your camera!

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Great Smoky Mountains National Park Favorites

  • Take your time

    I guess it is common sense to the average person, but important nonetheless. Take your time to smell the roses (or the mushrooms as my second photo shows), get in the park early and come back late to maximize the opportunities you have. Pack a lunch since there are extremely limited services in the park.The wildlife and weather do not operate on...

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  • Great Smoky Mountains National Park

    The Great Smoky Mountains National Park preserves a unique natural area with five different types of forests: Spruce-Fir Forests; Northern Hardwood Forests; Cove Hardwood Forests; Hemlock Forests and Pine and Oak Forests. Each type has its own plant and animal life indigenous to it. Which type of forest thrives in what area depends on several...

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  • Straddle the line

    When we go to the NC house, we often drive through the park to Gatlinburg. Going in the winter there is less traffic, but we need our winter clothes - we don't have need that many of those living in Florida as we do. Walking across into NC

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Explore Deeper into Great Smoky Mountains National Park
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Ash Hopper
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Corn Cribs
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Apple House
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Crops at Mountain Farm Museum
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Meat House
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Blacksmith's Shop
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Barns at Mountain Farm Museum
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Interior of Display Homes
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Quiet Walkways
Sports & Outdoors
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Mingus Mill
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1st Amendment Area
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Views From the Observation Tower
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Clingman's Dome
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New-found Gap
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Morton Overlook
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Chimney Tops
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Fields and Farm Animals
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Other Outbuildings in Cades Cove
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Other Barns in Cades Cove
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Other Homes in Cades Cove
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United Methodist Church
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Map of Great Smoky Mountains National Park

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