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The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a place that inspires awe. It’s a place where misty mornings give way to sunny afternoons and the smells of fresh rain and earthy pines fill your senses. It’s also a place that challenges you both physically and mentally. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is an expansive area filled with peaks, valleys, streams, and other natural wonders. While it’s only about a three-hour drive from Knoxville or Chattanooga, reaching the park can be challenging due to its remote location. Once you get there, however, it’s easy to see why so many visitors fall in love with this place every year.
What’s so great about the Great Smoky Mountains?
The Great Smoky Mountains are located in the Southeastern region of the United States and are part of the Appalachian Mountain Range. These mountains are the most visited National Park in the country and for good reason. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is home to large trees, rushing creeks, breathtaking waterfalls, and diverse wildlife. Many who visit the park are also drawn to the area’s cultural history. The Cherokee Indians have lived in the mountains since the 1700s and have left behind many reminders of their time there. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a place to marvel at the beauty of Mother Nature. It’s also a place that challenges you both physically and mentally. You’ll be walking along paths with incredibly steep drop-offs, navigating creeks that are sometimes knee-deep and sometimes waist-deep, and climbing over and around fallen logs that are covered in sharp moss. But the reward of reaching the top of a mountain or coming to a gorgeous waterfall more than makes up for any challenges you may face along the way. The park’s most popular (and busiest) trails are the Helton Creek Trail, the Trillium Trail, and the Boulevard Trail.
Where is the Great Smoky Mountains National Park?
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is located in Eastern Tennessee along the North Carolina border. It is accessible from Knoxville, Chattanooga, and the Tri-Cities in Southeast Tennessee. From Knoxville, the park is about a three-hour drive. From Chattanooga, the park is about a three-and-a-half-hour drive. The Tri-Cities are about a four-hour drive. The park is open year-round. However, some areas may close during inclement weather. Make sure you check the park’s website before you go to see what trails are open, what trails have limited hours, and which trails are closed due to weather.
Camping in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park has a variety of camping options available. There are over 800 campsites in the park, ranging from primitive backcountry sites to developed campsites with water and electrical hookups. You can find both walk-in and drive-in campsites, as well as campsites that are accessible only by boat. You’ll want to visit the park’s website to find out which campgrounds are open during your visit. You’ll also want to visit the website to find out what the campground’s rates are. The park’s campgrounds range in price from $21-$26 per night, depending on the site you choose to stay at. And, yes, you will need to make reservations. And, yes, they will fill up fast. Campsites typically book out about six months in advance.
Tips for visiting the Great Smoky Mountains National Park
– Dress appropriately. The temperature falls as you climb in elevation, so you’ll want to wear layers and bring a jacket no matter what time of year you visit. The temperature can change quickly in the mountains, so you may also want to bring rain gear. – Wear closed-toed shoes. The trails you’ll be walking on are either rocky or have loose rocks on them. You don’t want to risk stepping on a rock or a piece of glass with your foot fully exposed. – Leave only footprints. This may sound like a no-brainer, but the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a protected area. Don’t pick flowers. Don’t move logs that have fallen across the trail. Don’t carve your initials into trees. Don’t litter. Don’t feed the animals. This isn’t your backyard, and it isn’t your house. It’s a protected area that needs to be respected. – Stay hydrated. In addition to hiking, you may also want to bring a water bottle with you on the park’s train. And if you visit the park’s Southern section, you may also want to bring mosquito repellent. – Take note of what time the sun sets. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a very dark place. You’ll want to make sure you have a flashlight with you, even if you plan on just staying at one of the park’s campgrounds. – Visit the park’s website. The website will provide you with everything you need to know before you visit the park. It’ll let you know which trails are open, which trails have limited hours, and which trails have been closed due to weather. It’ll also let you know about the park’s events. You can even book your campsite online. The website is your one-stop shop for all things Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Gatlinburg and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Gatlinburg is a tourist-filled town that’s just a short drive away from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The city is filled with souvenir shops, restaurants, and other tourist-themed businesses. Many people visit Gatlinburg before or after visiting the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. If you do plan on visiting Gatlinburg, be aware that traffic can get crazy and parking can be challenging. You may want to visit the park on a weekday to avoid the crowds. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Gatlinburg go hand-in-hand. If you’re going to visit the park, you’ll likely drive through Gatlinburg at some point on your drive. You’ll want to take note of the traffic and parking in the city and be careful when driving around town.
The Smoky Mountains: Hiking and More
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a place where you can do everything from hiking to horseback riding. There are over 800 miles of hiking trails in the park, ranging from easy to strenuous. Popular trails include:
– Clingmans Dome: The highest point in the park, reached by a 0.5-mile hike from the Clingmans Dome Parking Area.
– Alum Cave Bluffs: A 5.5-mile round-trip hike with stunning views of mountains and valleys.
– Rainbow Falls: A 6-mile round-trip hike to an 80-foot waterfall.
The park is also home to a variety of wildlife, including black bears, deer, elk, bison, and wild turkeys.
There are several scenic drives in the park, including the Newfound Gap Road (which runs through the park from north to south), the Cades Cove Loop Road, and the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail.
You can also take the train through the park or go canoeing down one of the many rivers and streams in the area. You can also go fishing in the park’s lakes or trout stream or go spelunking to see some of the park’s underground caves.
Which Trail Should I Hike?
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is home to many different trails. Some of the most popular trails include the Helton Creek Trail, the Trillium Trail, and the Boulevard Trail. The Helton Creek Trail is a moderate trail that follows a creek for about 3/4 of a mile before climbing to a beautiful waterfall. It’s a great trail for all levels of hikers and is often crowded. The Trillium Trail is a moderate trail that follows a creek and winds in and out of the woods. This trail is beautiful but also sees more foot traffic than the Helton Creek Trail. The Boulevard Trail is a strenuous trail that is 4.7 miles long one way with an elevation gain of 1,275 feet. It’s a trail that you’ll want to save for the end of your visit to the park or perhaps for first thing in the morning to avoid crowds.
There are so many ways to enjoy the beauty of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park!
If you’re looking for a beautiful place to go camping, hiking, or just want to get away from the city for a while- The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the perfect spot!