You deserve a vacation if you feel stuck in a humdrum loop with long working hours and barely any time to yourself. But after being shackled to your work desk for so long, you might not be sure which place could offer an exhilarating experience.
Should you break the bank for a well-deserved getaway? If not, would the vacation even be worthwhile?
What if we tell you, you could enjoy a much-needed vacation, try new and exciting activities, and that too on a reasonable budget? Nestled in the Southeastern United States, the Great Smoky Mountains is a popular tourist hub with nearly 14 million visitors annually. Recognized as America’s most visited national park, there are countless activities for tourists to enjoy and have the time of their lives.
Before you pack your bags and hit the road for your vacation, we want you to go through these seven things you must remember to try for a wholesome experience.
- Camp a night
If you’re a nature-lover, the Smokies welcomes its visitors to camp amidst the woods and spend their nights star-gazing. If you are new to the experience, you can learn beforehand how to peg a tent, start a campfire and cook meals on a camping stove. Camping can be more fun with family or friends, where you can play games around the campfire and share scary stories over s’mores.
The Smoky Mountains tent camping gives visitors an immersive experience of living in the wilderness. Greenbrier Campground adds an extra charm to the adventure with its nine tent sites equipped with camping amenities like running water, electricity, a picnic table, and a fire pit. Our favorite part about these camping sites is that they are pet-friendly, so you don’t have to worry about leaving your fur babies behind.
- Go Hiking
For those with an adventurous spirit, the diverse forests of the Smokies have more than 800 miles of hiking trails. If you’re visiting the Smokies for the first time, we’ve picked out a handful of trails you don’t want to miss out on!
The Roaring ForkMotor Nature Trail is a 5.5-mile route on the outskirts of Gatlinburg that allows its visitors to enjoy the dense forests, mountain streams, and historic buildings. Please note that this trail is closed in the winter.
Another popular trail is the Cades Cove Loop which is an 11-mile route. You can trek, cycle, or drive on the route and enjoy sighting the native wildlife.
- Enjoy a picturesque view at Clingman’s Dome
Imagine getting a chance to encounter beautiful panoramic views from the highest point in the Great Smoky Mountains. The popular Clingman’s Dome welcomes its visitors after a drive from the Clingmans Dome Road, followed by a half-mile hike. Rising to an incredible height of 6643 feet, this observatory tower offers sweeping views of the park (if the weather cooperates).
Although the observatory deck is often crowded at sunset, you can visit the spot just before dawn to experience an enchanting start to the day.
- Try Fishing
If you’re lucky enough to visit the Smokies during spring, you don’t want to miss out on fishing in the natural waters. With miles of fishing waters, you can find wild trout, which includes the Appalachian brook trout, brown and rainbow trout, and headwater trout. You’ll also see several smallmouth bass in the local streams.
After you get a license to fish in the National Park’s waters, you can visit popular sites such as Hazel Creek, located in the southwest corner of the Smokies. If you’re looking forward to catching bass and crappie, you can visit Douglas Creek, located at the foothills of the mountains. Abrams Creek also enlists as one of the most popular fishing spots in the Great Smoky Mountains.
- Visit the gushing waterfalls
We love the Great Smoky Mountains, especially because of the cascading waterfalls amidst the towering cliffs and rugged mountain landscapes. Tourists gather at popular spots, such as Laurel Falls and Abrams Falls, to enjoy the powerful rush of water, the rhythmic splashes, the rejuvenating atmosphere, and the occasional sight of rainbows.
Moreover, for those keen to explore the depths of nature, we recommend hiking up the trail to Grotto Falls, which allows tourists to experience the gushing waters from the back. You can even beat the heat with a cool swim in the refreshing waters of The Sinks. Although the waterfall here might not be too captivating, The Sinks offers a relaxing spot to take a dip.
- Go Paddling
From the several rivers and rapids that the Great Smoky Mountains embrace, we recommend driving up to the southern border of the National Park, where you’ll reach Fontana Lake. With a shoreline of 240 miles, this lake is formed by the dam located at Little River.
The scenic beauty of the lake isn’t the sole reason tourists get pulled here. The lake offers paddleboarders a chance to bring their boats or rent one from the Fontana Village and explore the waters. If you’re new to the place, you can opt for a guided lake tour that offers breathtaking views.
- Familiarize yourself with the history
The Great Smoky Mountains hold a rich heritage for those intrigued by history and culture. One of these mountains’ most popular and historical places is Cades Cove, first inhabited by settlers in the early 1820s. If you visit this quaint destination, you’ll see a few homesteads, a couple of churches and a mill, and a barn that’ll give out historic vibes.
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a haven for nature lovers and explorers. From serene camping spots to beautiful hiking trails and historical remains, the Smokies offer excitement and unlimited fun.
We recommend making a personal itinerary for your visit to the National Park because there are several activities to do and countless destinations to visit. Make sure to plan at least a week’s stay when visiting the Smokies, so you can make the most out of your trip.