Planning a Trip to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Posted by Darryl Payne in National Park

Road to Cumberland Gap - Smoky Mountains

Peaceful. Exciting. Quiet. Enlightening. There's hardly any other vacation spot in the country that is as diverse as the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.That's why planning a vacation to this landmark destination may take some time.With so much to choose from, making decisions about what to do during your stay and what to leave for your next visit may require a good bit of thought.

While not a complete list by a long shot, the suggestions below are a few of the more popular activities at the Park.

Changing of the Leaves

From October through early November, Mother Nature really shows off in the Park. The leaves gradually morph from a deep green to brilliant shades of gold, red and orange. The Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge area is famous throughout the country for this display that begins in the higher elevations and trickles down into the valley with a waterfall of color.

Whether you opt to drive Clingmans Dome or the Blue Ridge Parkway, or take to the trails for an invigorating hike or bike ride, your eyes will constantly drift upwards. This natural annual phenomenon is absolutely breathtaking.

Black Bears in the Wild

According to the Park's website, "Great Smoky Mountains National Park is one of the few places remaining in the eastern United States where black bears can live in wild, natural surroundings." By some estimates, over 1,500 bears inhabit the Park.

These fascinating creatures are regularly spotted throughout the Park and make for some interesting sightseeing. Keep your distance and you can observe and photograph the bears as they go about their daily routines. The Park encourages you to find out about bear safety before you arrive.

Ranger-Guided Walks & Talks

For many, the interest comes in having a trained professional who is intimately familiar with the Park take you on a tour. With Ranger-Guided Walks & Talks, you have the accompaniment of a park ranger who will escort you to campfire programs, guided hikes, history demonstrations and other exciting activities. Walks range from 1/4 mile to 5 miles and are conducted throughout the Park.

Waterfall Walks

With 11 waterfalls in the Park, there's little wonder why these are so popular. Take a leisurely hike to one of the most popular: Laurel Falls. A 2.6-mile roundtrip hike rewards you with gorgeous views of this 80-foot high natural wonder.

Clingmans Dome

The highest point in the Smoky Mountains, Clingmans Dome is at 6,643 feet and provides you with astonishingly beautiful, 360-degree views of the surrounding mountains. At the top, you'll find a variety of trails to explore including the Appalachian Trail.

Whether you want to fish, ride bikes, hike or spend your time exploring nature, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park gives you a huge variety of options. Visit their site at NPS.gov/grsm for details on how to make memories at this family-friendly vacation spot.

Momma bear and her cubs in the Smoky Mountains
Waterfall in the Smoky Mountains

 

 

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