My Smoky Mountain Park

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

America’s most-visited national park straddles the border of Tenn. and N.C. with a thickly forested collection of mountains, rivers and preserved pioneer communities. Some highlights include Cades Cove known for its abundant wildlife and a working grist mill, Clingmans Dome on the park’s highest point with a view of seven states, and dozens of waterfalls and cascades.

Autumn sunrise from Clingmans Dome in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Weather and Seasons

The forests of Great Smoky Mountains National Park are noted for humid weather patterns. Shaped by elevation, slope, and exposure, these can change rapidly.

Which entrance to Great Smoky Mountains National Park should I take?

Great Smoky has three main entrances and a smattering of smaller inlets. The Gatlinburg, Tenn./Sugarlands entrance is the most popular for tourists interested in attractions and auto touring. The Townsend, Tenn. and Oconaluftee/Cherokee, N. Carolina entrances cater more to the traveler interested in outdoor recreation and adventure vacations. The remote Cataloochee entrance is the best place for elk viewing, and the Lake Fontana entrance gives you access to lake sports and famous motorcycle rides right outside the park. The latter is also the way Appalachian Trail hikers enter the park.

How should I get to Great Smoky?

Most people drive to the park. Check out our road trip ideas. There are four major airports within a day’s drive of the park including Knoxville, Tenn. and Charlotte, N. Carolina. Once you get to the park, you will need a car or tour transportation to get around unless you ride the Gatlinburg trolley.

Park gateway town, Gatlinburg, Tennessee.

Best Road Trips to Great Smoky

Getting there can be as fun as the park itself. Enjoy these scenic drives and road trips to Great Smoky Mountains National Park and other spots in Tennessee and North Carolina.

Where should I stay on my Smoky Mountain vacation?

There is only one lodge in the park and it has a lottery reservation system. However, there are several park campgrounds and horse camps. There are a plethora of lodging options near the park entrances including cabins, campgrounds, resorts, hotels, and a casino hotel.

What is there to see and do at Great Smoky Mountains National Park?

Auto touring through dense forests, exploring preserved pioneer communities, hiking to mountain views and waterfalls, and wildlife watching (especially for bears) are the main attractions in the park. During autumn, the mountains are ablaze with color, making leaf-peeping season the busiest time in the park. See our list of the top ten things to do in the park and beyond.

Hyatt Lane in Cades Cove in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Scenic Auto Touring

See wildlife, colorful leaves, mountain peaks, and waterfalls, all from the convenience of your car. We show you the best pit-stops for exploring.