Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

National Park · Southern United States
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Great Smoky Mountains National Park is an American national park in the southeastern United States, with parts in North Carolina and Tennessee. The park straddles the ridgeline of the Great Smoky Mountains, part of the Blue Ridge Mountains, which are a division of the larger Appalachian Mountain chain. The park contains some of the highest mountains in eastern North America, including Clingmans Dome, Mount Guyot, and Mount Le Conte.

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As the country’s most-visited national park, Great Smoky Mountains can feel uncomfortably crowded in the warmer months. Yet the winter season’s temperatures are typically mild enough for hiking some of the park’s more than 800 miles (1,290 kilometers) of trails. Start the day by taking in views at Newfound Gap before hiking to Alum Cave to see icicle formations. You can also take a self-guided driving tour of the Cades Cove Loop Road or join an organized hiking tour to pristine waterfalls.
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7 National Parks to Visit in the Winter
Viator7 places
Winter is a great time to stop by one of America’s most-visited parks, as this is the least busy season. Even when higher elevations at Great Smoky are covered in snow and roads through mountain passes close, many trails and roads in the foothills are accessible. Enjoy a year-round fishing, hiking, camping, touring historic sites, and outdoor education.
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National Park Winter Wonderlands
National Park Foundation15 places
Spot some iconic American wildlife as you cruise through Great Smoky Mountains National Park along Cades Cove Loop Road. A one-way, 11-mile loop through the park’s broad valley, this drive is one of the best ways to see the park’s wildlife, including white-tailed deer, turkeys, black bears, coyotes, and more. Make sure to give yourself enough time to complete the loop – at least 2 to 4 hours – and be courteous to other park visitors along the way!
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Fall Road Trips in National Parks
National Park Foundation9 places
Featuring over 520,000 acres of lush forests, hiking trails, mountain peaks and cascading waterfalls, this park is the perfect place to explore with kids of all ages. Hike up to Clingman’s Dome for some of the most stunning panoramic views of the park. Cool off with a tubing excursion on the Deep Creek of Great Smoky. Or, enjoy a scenic picnic near the creek in Cades Cove. Don’t forget to grab an ice cream from the nearby Camp Store’s Snack Shop.
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Kid-Friendly Tennessee Road Trip
Places.Travel12 places
Emily Fayette: “What I love about Great Smoky Mountains National Park is that it’s an accessible destination with lots to do. There are tons of running trails, including the Oconaluftee River Trail, where I once saw 50 elk. Incredible! I recommend taking all the time you can. Live in the moment and soak in the nature vibes. Get moving early to see the epic sunrise over the mountains.”
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Apple Fitness+ Trainers’ National Parks
I Just Love10 places
From mountain waterfalls to ice-cold streams running through rhododendron-laced valleys, the Smokies are full of crystal-clear swimming holes, easy and moderate hikes for all legs, and scenic drives.
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Best National Parks to Visit with Kids
Tinybeans26 places
The Southern Appalachian mountains, including Great Smoky Mountains National Park, were Cherokee lands until 1938, when almost 14,000 Cherokees were forcibly relocated to Oklahoma during the Trail of Tears. Today the Tribe’s 11,000 members live mostly on the Cherokee Indian Reservation, or Qualla Boundary, along the south side of the park. The reservation welcomes visitors, and the national park gateway town of Cherokee, North Carolina, is flush with learning experiences and amenities.
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Honor Indigenous History at These Parks
Roadtrippers4 places
Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the area is incredibly awe-inspiring. Fall is a popular time to visit the Smokies, and with good reason: The changing colors are unlike anything you'll find anywhere else in the world. Avoid the crowds and still get awesome views by visiting in the summer or when everything is blooming in the spring.
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12 Stops Along the Blue Ridge Parkway
Roadtrippers12 places
There’s no shortage of day hikes and scenic drives to take in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, but if you’re coming from the plateau, you’ll want to enter at the park’s Cherokee entrance. From here, drive the Newfound Gap Road, climb Clingmans Dome, or choose a moderate day hike, like Alum Cave Trail.
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A Highlands-Cashiers Plateau Road Trip
Roadtrippers14 places
Great Smoky Mountains is consistently the most-visited national park in the country. Entrance to the park is free, but visitors will likely be charged parking fees starting in 2023. Cruise Cades Cove for historic sites and stunning views and tour the mysterious abandoned ghost town of Elkmont while you visit.
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16 Free U.S. National Parks
Roadtrippers16 places
S.C.A.R., also known by locals as the "Smokies Challenge Adventure Run," is an equally stunning — and epic — 70-mile stretch of the Appalachian Trail through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The adventure begins at Fontana Dam, the "tallest dam east of the Rockies," and ends near Interstate 40 at an unsuspecting trailhead along the road.
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10 Epic Trail Runs of the Southeast USA
FATMAP10 places
Appalachian lore and beauty are woven like a tapestry through this veiled playground. Streams that cascade and rest in pools are perfect for fending off summer’s dog days, while hikes show off this park’s diverse and beautiful vegetation. Spot deer, and occasionally black bears, along Cades Cove, or take the time to head out to Cataloochee to peer out on the park’s elk herds.
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Discover America's National Parks
National Park Foundation63 places
Home to some of the oldest mountains in the world, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park (declared in 1934) is the most visited national park in the US, and it’s easy to see why. Straddling two states – Tennessee and North Carolina – the park boasts more than 500,000 acres (200,000ha) of dense forests containing over 1,600 species of vegetation blanket the mountains and create a natural masterpiece like no other.
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Most Beautiful National Parks in the USA
Culture Trip11 places
Accessible and surrounded by endless opportunities for play, Great Smoky Mountains National Park is an ultimate vacation spot for families. Yes, you’ll find kid-friendly hikes such as the Kephart Prong Trail and Porters Creek, but your kids will be equally delighted by the popular tourist attractions found in the Tennessee gateway towns of Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge.
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10 Family-Friendly National Parks
Roadtrippers10 places
The Great Smoky Mountains are some of the wildest mountains in all of the Appalachian Range. High summits, deep valleys, rushing rivers, dense forests, and treeless balds make up an intricate landscape that’s best explored on foot.
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Best Hikes in the Great Smoky Mountains
FATMAP11 places
Some of America’s oldest mountain ranges can be found at Great Smoky Mountains National Park. 2021 saw the opening of a new trail that provides access for visitors of all abilities to the John Oliver Cabin. This half-mile, paved trail provides adequate space for wheelchairs and other mobility devices. Be sure to contact the park for more details on activities and accessibility.
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Park Access for All
National Park Foundation12 places
Appalachian lore and beauty are woven like a tapestry through this veiled playground. Streams that cascade and rest in pools are perfect for fending off summer’s dog days, while hikes show off this park’s diverse and beautiful vegetation. Spot deer, and occasionally black bears, along Cades Cove, or take the time to head out to Cataloochee to peer out on the park’s elk herds.
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National Parks Perfect for Play
National Park Foundation14 places

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