The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts. It is claimed to be the most visited national park, and there are plenty of reasons for that. In addition to its abundance of wildflowers and wildlife, the park features breathtaking waterfalls along woodland paths, difficult climbs, and lovely drives.

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Moreover, there are also educational exhibits, for example, historic structures from early settlers, such as those at Cades Cove. Needless to say, the Great Smoky Mountains serve as a perfect vacation for your holidays. 

However, if you plan to visit this gorgeous destination, you should know about the recommended activities and destinations. With so many historical buildings, stunning wildflower displays, scenic hikes, and a myriad of wildlife, this place offers many activities for its visitors. So, to make things a little easier for you, this article will describe seven things you can do when visiting the Great Smoky Mountains. 

  1. Choose Cabin Adventure:

If you are planning a vacation to the Great Smoky Mountains, chances are that you want a change from your usual daily routine. People choose this place because they want to leave behind their congested rooms and experience nature. And what better way to do that than renting a cabin in the middle of the woods? There are plenty of options when it comes to choosing between cabins, cottages, and vacation homes. 

The cabins are usually a cheaper option, especially if you are vacationing with your family. They offer a cozy, peaceful, and stress-free environment for you and your loved ones. Moreover, cabins offer many amenities, such as a private pool and theater, which are useful for indoor activities. 

So, if you are interested in renting a cabin to make the most of your experience in the Great Smoky Mountains, then you can search for Smoky Mountain cabin rental to find suitable options for yourself. 

  1. Climb The Clingmans Dome:

The Clingmasns Dome stands at 6,643 feet, making it the highest mountain in the Great Smoky Mountains. The observation tower at Clingmans Dome offers panoramic views of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park as well as its neighboring mountains and lakes. On clear days, you can see over one hundred miles in all directions.

To reach the highest point, you will have to drive to the Clingmans Dome parking lot and then walk a little further to reach the observation tower. Although the walk is brief and paved, it is up a steep slope and thus may take some people a little longer to complete it. 

  1. Go Boating in Paddle Lake:

Fontana Lake is located towards the southern end of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and overlooks the Nantahala National Forest. It is a long lake with 240 miles of coastline that attracts boaters, kayakers, canoeists, and fishermen. 

You can rent a boat at Fontana Village or from the Nantahala Outdoor Center to embark on a trip to explore the lake and its remote campgrounds. 

Furthermore, the lake is away from the busy parts of the park, serving as a perfect spot for family picnics. The drive to the lake is very scenic, especially in the fall. But as mentioned above, the lake is located at a considerable distance from other areas of interest, so you may want to consider that before making a trip to Fontana Lake. 

  1. Take a Drive Around Cades Cove:

Cades Cove, which was once a remote valley, is now one of the most popular traveling destinations in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It offers a combination of historic homesteads, churches, and mills, along with animals and gorgeous mountain peaks. This makes it a must-see location for nature and history enthusiasts. 

Cades Cove loop road has multiple pull-offs where you can explore hiking trails and historic sites from the past, such as Mingus Mill. 

In the summer and fall seasons, many cars line up to enter the loop road in hopes of spotting wildlife or simply enjoying the stunning beauty that makes the Smoky Mountains so special.

  1. Make a Tour of Cataloochee:

This beautiful and peaceful mountain valley is located far from the noise and bustle of Gatlinburg and the tourists. Before the park was established, this valley, known as Cataloochee, was home to a small mountain community. 

Upon visiting this place, you will see the remaining historic houses and buildings and enjoy the serene mountain beauty that once made this an ideal place to live.

In this quiet corner of the park, you might spot wild turkeys and a variety of other intriguing species. There is also a herd of cattle that can be seen grazing the meadows of this valley. One thing to note is that you have to travel through a narrow, steep, gravel road to reach Cataloochee, which could be a problem for some vehicles.

  1. Visit Ocanaluftee Mountain Farm Museum:

The Ocanaluftee Visitor Center is located at the park’s southern entrance. A walking trail along the Ocanaluftee River adjacent to the visitor center leads visitors through the Mountain Farm Museum. 

The museum is actually a cluster of historical pioneer buildings that have been maintained over the years. These include structures like a blacksmith shop, a cabin, a barn, and others. The gorgeous Ocanaluftee River flows by just beyond the treeline as you wander through the area’s history, discovering ancient buildings and learning about the pioneer way of life. 

  1. Hike through the Appalachian Trail:

This legendary trail, which was completed in 1937, extends 2,200 miles from the mountains of North Georgia to Maine, traversing through fourteen states in all. Seventy-one miles of this famous trail runs through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, providing many opportunities to hop on the trail, even for a short walk. 


The Great Smoky Mountains feature a variety of natural and man-made attractions. Apart from the attractions, many other travel destinations are located in the Great Smoky Mountains and also in the nearby cities. Therefore, a myriad of activities is available for the visitors of this place, which makes it a perfect vacation spot for families, couples, and friends.