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.
In light of the spread of COVID-19, trying to find out what is open and closed in our national parks is a moving target these days. Here are updates.
Got 24 hours? Get the most out of them with this guide. Take a hike, touch the past, cruise a view, and more.
How do you pack for the nation’s most visited park? Here are the top 14 items to bring to the park.
The forests of Great Smoky Mountains National Park are noted for humid weather patterns. Shaped by elevation, slope, and exposure, these can change rapidly.
Options for trails and what to expect on the hike, from a moderate walk to a waterfall to a strenuous hike to the top of a mountain.
About 1,500 black bears live in the park. Females usually weigh about 100 lbs and males weigh 250, though bears as large as 600 have been found here.
You don’t have to visit Great Smoky Mountains National Park in person to experience its spectacular mountains, valleys and waterfalls.
Here are exceptional ways to have fun and be present, Great Smoky Mountains National Park-style, even if you can't visit the park in person.
Love to take photos in national parks? Whether it’s a landscape, a wildlife pic, or a Milky Way shot, send it our way. You could win a Tamron camera lens!
The park is in the eastern section of the United States straddling the border between Tennessee and North Carolina.
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.
The majority of visitors enter through the Sugarlands entrance on the park’s north side by driving through Gatlinburg, Tennessee.
Go hiking, paddling, fishing, and climbing in a park with lush valleys and high mountain tops. It's waiting for you to explore.
The Appalachian Trail (AT) travels 72 miles through Great Smoky Mountains National Park along the Tennessee-North Carolina border.
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.
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.
Convenient airports include McGee-Tyson, Asheville Regional Greenville-Spartanburg International, and Charlotte Douglas International. See maps.
The Gatlinburg Trolley Tan Line stops at Sugarlands Visitor Center, Laurel Falls parking lot, and Elkmont Campground.
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.
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.
There are many types of animals in the Great Smoky Mountains, but dense forests can make them difficult to spot. Here’s a guide to better your chances.
Don’t leave the park without ticking off at least one of these top ten Smokies to-dos including historic sites, grand overlooks, wildlife, and waterfalls.
See wildlife, colorful leaves, mountain peaks, and waterfalls, all from the convenience of your car. We show you the best pit-stops for exploring.