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48 Hours in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

It’s our nation’s busiest park, so here are tips on how to see the best of Great Smoky in just two days. Make the most of your time by visiting some of our favorite spots in both the Tenn. and N.C. sides of the park.



Explore 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.

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5 Things to Know About Great Smoky Mountains Travel Amid COVID-19


As of Aug. 15, 2021, following the latest science and guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and to promote staff and visitors’ safety, the NPS is requiring visitors, employees and contractors to wear a mask inside all NPS buildings and in crowded outdoor spaces, regardless of vaccination status or community transmission levels.

Individuals looking to get COVID-19 vaccine can visit vaccines.gov or text their ZIP code to 438829 to find a location close to them and make an appointment.

How to Be an Informed and Mindful Traveler

While the national parks reopening have made us cautiously optimistic about summer travel, we’ve identified 5 essential factors you should consider before you hit the road. And one last thing. Throw your propensity to assume out the window. As we’ve seen during this spring, there are no guarantees that businesses will stay open, virus cases will go down or stay-at-home orders will be a thing of the past.

1. Every state has its own rules that vary dramatically.

Each state has different quarantine orders that vary dramatically from state to state. Within states, orders can even vary from county to county or town to town. For instance, Great Smoky Mountains National Park reopened weeks before other national parks.

2. Not everything in the park will be open.

Just because a national park reopens does not mean everything within the park is open. For instance, in Great Smoky, Cataloochee Road and some trails will remain closed for the season. LeConte Lodge reopened in May on a trial basis. And the visitor centers are closed. Be sure to check that the services you need are available. Lastly, avoiding crowds and practicing Leave No Trace principles in the park are more essential now than ever with reduced park staff. We’ve teamed up with organizations and brands across the outdoor industry to help you make smart decisions on recreating to keep yourself and others healthy and to keep access to our beloved public places open. You can read more about how to #RecreateResponsibly.

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