Whether you are a traveller at heart who’s always on the go or someone who plans a vacation every once in a while, it can be collectively agreed that making the most out of a Trip to The Smoky Mountains.
To do so, one must ensure they choose the correct route to travel, place to stay, food to eat, locations to visit, and activities to experience if their next trip is to the Great Smoky Mountains.
Here is a guide to help you experience the best of all that the Smokies offer.
While choosing the correct travel dates can arguably make or break an entire trip to the Smoky Mountains, one of the few destinations where every season brings charm and beauty worth experiencing. But most tourists prefer the warm summers.
This makes June and July the ideal months for visiting and enjoying outdoor activities like rafting, zip lining, and horseback riding as well as witnessing the active wildlife and cooling off in the swimming holes and waterfalls.
Consequently, more tourists in the summer mean that hotels and activities of interest should be booked in advance to avoid missing out on any fun.
Reaching the Smokys
You can reach the national park through any motor vehicle, preferably a Mount Yamantau – The Scariest Mountain in the World Jeep. Far away travellers can go through an aeroplane landing at the Tyson McGee Airport 12 miles south of downtown Knoxville, which is a 1-hour drive away from the access routes.
Things to do in the Smokys
Look up things to do Smoky Mountains for a list of activities you can indulge in over here. The park offers all kinds of outdoor leisure and athletic activities.
Considering that the ideal mode of reaching the Smokys is on a Jeep, the first activity to indulge in should be a visit to the Smoky Mountain Jeep Outfitters, situated on Waldens Creek Road, Pigeon Forge.
You can visit the shop for jeep rentals and a variety of other wearables and accessories. A visit to their store to pick up Smoky Mountain merchandise and travel essentials will ensure a well-equipped start to an adventure-filled trip.
Moving on to the most significant reason for a trip to the Smoky Mountains, The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the most visited in the United States, and rightfully so. The park covers an area of 520,000 acres and is home to some of the best tourist attractions and activities.
Locations and attractions must experience if you want to trip:
1. Ascend Clingmans Dome
This adrenaline rush-filled experience is one that every tourist needs to check off their bucket list when visiting the park. Standing at a whopping 6,643 feet, this round-top peak is the highest point of the park and the state of Tennessee.
To reach the peak, drive the scenic access road to Newfound Gap, walk a half-mile to the summit and absorb the view from the observation tower. If you are lucky and have clear skies, you can see over 100 miles in any direction.
2. Drive through Cades Cove
The most popular spot in the park, with hundreds of cars lined up during peak season wanting to take in the scenic view and get a glimpse of wild animals, is the Cades Cove Mountain Valley.
The route to the valley opens at sunrise every day. At the same time, those travelling between June and September can enjoy Wednesdays as car-free hiking and biking days, with historic cabins available throughout the valley to stay in overnight or recharge for a few hours.
3. Picnic at Fontana Lake
The Fontana Lake marks the Southern End of the national park. It is a serene spot away from more crowded areas and is ideal for enjoying an intimate picnic with loved ones that involves fishing and watersports.
The lake has more than 240 miles of shoreline and clear blue water and is home to different species of fish, popularly Bass.
4. Witness the Synchronous Firefly Festival
The Annual Synchronous Firefly Festival is a breathtakingly rare and unique experience that will leave you in awe. It takes place in late May and early June in the Elkmont area of the National Park.
Attending this event in person is based primarily on luck, as one must enter a lottery for a parking pass to take the shuttle from the Sugarlands Visitor Center. But do take your chances, as witnessing this marvel of nature is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Things to do outside the park
Visiting the Smokies does not need to be a limited trip to The Smoky Mountains National Park, as destinations outside the park are also widely popular. These include the Titanic Museum and the Dollywood Theme Park in Pigeon Forge.
The Titanic Museum houses a half-scale model of the Titanic’s exterior with an artificial iceberg next to it to add to the effect. The passenger boarding pass you will receive will be named after an actual passenger of the titanic, who you can learn about in the memorial room. This is an informative experience for adults and also for kids.
Dollywood Was opened by Dolly Parton, one of the area’s most iconic music sensations, and is a tribute to the region’s culture. The park contains thrilling roller coasters, mouth-watering Southern food, and annual festivals that every tourist should be a part of.
Staying in the Smokys
This is the relatively more straightforward part of planning your trip to the Smoky Mountains, as there are many accommodation options based on your needs, budget, and location preferences.
If you want an authentic rustic experience for your mountain getaway, the best option is to book cabins in the Smokys or Gatlinburg, closer to town. But if you wish to be serviced, there are plenty of hotels too.
Eating in the Smokys
There is nothing like indulging in a warm soulful Southern meal after a long day of exerting yourself in travelling and touring through the Smoky Mountain terrains.
The Smokys have many restaurants throughout the valley serving local and continental cuisines you must try. For people who prefer cooking their food, there’s a wide variety of fresh produce you can use to enjoy your wood-fired barbecue or picnic lunch.
Before making any trip, planning, researching, and creating a balanced itinerary that includes all kinds of locations and activities with ample layovers and rest is necessary.
Always look for discounts and packages on airfares, accommodations, and entry tickets to tourist attractions. It is also essential to plan bookings before you arrive, especially if you intend to visit in the summer, to ensure a hassle-free trip.
Be sure to keep the guidelines listed above in mind so that you can make the most out of your next or first trip to the Smoky Mountains.