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Misty Morning at Cades Cove in Great Smoky Mountain National Park

Best Photos of Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Each year we ask national park travelers to enter their best photos in our annual photo contest. Here are some of the best shots in Great Smoky.

Llama

LeConte Lodge Kitchen Supplied by Llama Train

Have a hot meal up on the mountain thanks to llamas that make the hike up to the lodge kitchen three times per week. Read about their reward at the top.

LeConte Lodge on Mt. Le Conte in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

LeConte Lodge inside Great Smoky Mountains National Park

LeConte Lodge is the only lodging in the park and is accessible only by hiking a 5-mile trail. A reservation lottery happens in fall.

Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail near Gatlinburg, TN

This 5.5-mile scenic road is just inside Great Smoky Mountains National Park from Gatlingburg, TN. Enjoy leaf-peeping, trails and a waterfall along the way.

A monarch butterfly on a milkweed flower.

Fall Monarch Migration in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

The national park and parts of North Carolina are on one of the natural migration routes. Learn more about the annual monarch-tagging event.

The sculpture honoring Sequoyah, inventor of the Cherokee alphabet, outside the Museum of the Cherokee Indian was cut from a single sequoia tree log.

Top 6 North Carolina Attractions near Great Smoky Mountains National Park

When you can tear yourself away from the scenery on this quieter side of the national park, hit these local attractions including museums, breweries, and rafting.

A male elk called a "buck."

Elk in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

The park’s largest animal, elk can weigh 700 pounds and reach 5 feet at the shoulder.

Sunset in Cades Cove in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Photo by Lee Coursey via Flickr

Cades Cove in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

This popular valley is known for its abundant wildlife, idyllic scenery, and preserved historic buildings dating back to the late 1800s. Take an auto-tour.

Coyote

Coyotes in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

This member of the dog family is highly adaptable, surviving in many different habitats across the country. Here, coyotes are most active at night.

Fireflies lit up at night.

June Firefly Watching in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

For about two weeks each year, Elkmont in Great Smoky becomes the site of the most magnificent synchronized firefly gathering in the world.

Overview map of Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Great Smoky Mountains National Park Map PDF

Download the official national park map to see the major park roads, rivers, park visitor centers, and the Appalachian Trail which bisects the park.

Entrance sign to Great Smoky Mountains National Park at Gatlinburg

Park Entrances to Great Smoky Mountains National Park

The majority of visitors enter through the Sugarlands entrance on the park’s north side by driving through Gatlinburg, Tennessee.

Black bear nursing her cubs in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Where Can I See Wildlife in Great Smoky Mountains National Park?

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.

Sunset view at Newfound Gap in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Top 4 Vistas in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

If you want to feel like you are on top of the world, here are four fantastic views including a tower, a gap, and a sunrise-sunset hike.

The Sinks on the Little River

Most Popular Waterfalls in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Feel the mist on your face on one of these top trips to the park’s impressive cascades. Some are seen right from the road. Others require a hike.

Bull elk grazing near the Palmer Chapel in Cataloochee Valley in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

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.

Pigeon Forge Putt Putt Golf Attraction

Top 5 Attractions in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, Tennessee

Packed full of attractions, putt putt golf, arcades and old-time photo shops, visitors might get overwhelmed at the choices. Here’s our top recommendations.

The view of Hot Springs, North Carolina and the French Broad River from Pump Gap on the Appalachian Trail. Photo by John Hayes via Flickr

Soak in Hot Springs, N.C. - Gateway to Great Smoky Mountains

Hot tubs fed by mineral springs and the Appalachian Trail take center stage in this town 45 minutes from the Catalooche area of the national park.

Log cabin in the mountains.

5 Romantic Things to Do in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

The park is a fantastic place to spend a romantic weekend, celebrate Valentine’s Day or an anniversary, or to just spend time together.

Photographer in the mountains in autumn

National Park Photo Contest presented by Tamron

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!

Screenshot of YouTube video about the Great Smoky Mountains Nordic Ski Patrol

Nordic Ski Patrol of Great Smoky Mountains National Park

If you venture out on the closed road to Clingmans Dome in winter, you may run into volunteers on cross-country skis, ready to assist visitors in trouble.

Laurel Falls in the winter in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

4 Things to Do in Winter in the Great Smokies

Snow just makes it more of an adventure. See our list of to top things to do in winter in the park and nearby – one of which is just a fun way to get around

West entrance sign for Great Smoky Mountains National Park on of Lakeview Drive near Fontana Dam.

Entrance to Great Smoky Mountains National Park is Free

Skip the entrance fee for this national park - it's free to enter! Campsites, lodging, and some tours still have a fee.

A family camping in a national park

Calendar of Free Entrance Days to National Parks

Great Smoky is always free but parks that usually charge an entrance fee will be free on several days during the year. Check our list of dates.

Fire Pit at Fairfield Inn & Suites Gatlinburg Downtown

Charmingly Modern Fairfield Inn & Suites Gatlinburg Downtown

Stay walking distance to Gatlinburg's many attractions and just a short drive to Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Airplane in the clouds

4 Closest Airports to Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Convenient airports include McGee-Tyson, Asheville Regional Greenville-Spartanburg International, and Charlotte Douglas International. See maps.

Sunset over the Smoky Mountains in autumn

Autumn is Leaf-Peeping Season in the Smokies

Drive or hike to the higher elevations for sweeping views over the park’s 100-plus tree species painting the hills in bright oranges, yellows, and reds.

Gatlinburg, Tennessee

Top Timeshare Resorts in Gatlinburg: Getaway to the Smokies

Stay in a Gatlinburg timeshare for an unforgettable vacation in the Smokies. Here are the some of the best resorts offering timeshare accommodations.

Fireflies in the Night cabin rental near Great Smoky Mountains National Park

60+ Smoky Mountain Cabins at American Mountain Rentals

Stay close to popular area attractions but secluded enough for those who long for peace and quiet relaxation. Accommodate 4-28 guests.

An aerial view of Lake Fontana in North Carolina

Wildland Trekking Guided Hiking Vacations

Go on an unforgettable hiking vacation. Wildland Trekking has a tour that fits nearly anyone who loves to hike in world-renowned, breathtaking landscapes

Visitor Center at the Institute at Tremont inside Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Photo by Brian Stansberry [GFDL or CC BY 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont

Year-round residential environmental education center in the Smokies which offers summer camps, school programs, family camps, and naturalist workshops.

Upper Flats Wilderness camping in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Great Smoky Mountains National Park Campgrounds

The park operates nine developed campgrounds. All have bathroom facilities with running water, but no showers or hookups.

Featured image for Great Smoky region map

Great Smoky Mountains National Park Region Map PDF

This map of Great Smoky Mountains National Park shows outlying gateways from Knoxville, Tenn. in the north to Waynesville, N.C. in the south.

Barbobs sign beckons you to try an ice cream cone.

Smoky's Best Burger? Try Barbob’s Burgermaster Drive-In

Drive up to a classic diner experience right outside Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Townsend, Tenn. Locals say it’s the best burger in the county.

Chimani App

Your National Park App by Chimani

Chimani launches an expanded perks benefit for national parks visitors. It Includes all 60 national park guides, offline maps and $2,500 in savings.

Beside Big Creek Trail in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Smoky Mountain Visitor Photo Gallery

Here are some great photos found taken by visitors to Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the surrounding areas.

The John "Gull" Tipton family around 1930. John Tipton operated Cable Mill in Cades Cove for a time during the 1940s and 1950s. Photo by NPS Archives

The Mountain People of the Great Smokies

Before this was a national park, there were thriving communities here. See photos of the mountain people who made their homes on the land.

Illustrated Guide to Great Smoky Mountains National Park

New Illustrated Book about Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Packed with engaging trivia, historical photos and maps, former ranger quotes, and 40 original hand-illustrated poster designs and paintings.

The Mountain Farm Museum at Oconaluftee Valley inside Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Oconaluftee in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

At the main south entrance, tour the Mountain Farm Museum, pioneer buildings, stroll along the Oconaluftee River, and up the road see a historic gristmill.

Float past Tom Branch Falls along Deep Creek's 2-mile tubing section.

5 Top Ways to Get Wet in the Great Smoky Mountains

Stay cool in summer at these water hot spots including swimming holes under waterfalls, boating in a fingered lake, and floating down creeks.

Email newsletter featured image

National Park Email Newsletters Featuring Great Smoky

Whether you are planning a trip to the Smoky Mountains or simply want to stay connected to the national park, our newsletters are a great source of information and are filled with inspiring stories.

An aerial view of Lake Fontana in North Carolina

What Weather to Expect in Every Season at Great Smoky Mountains National Park

The weather you’ll find up on the high peaks can be very different from what’s going on in the lower valleys. Always be prepared with warm layers.

Cades Cove Visitor Information Center.

Visitor Centers in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

There are four main visitor centers in the park: Cades Cove, Clingmans Dome, Oconaluftee, and Sugarlands.

Map of location of Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North America

Where is Great Smoky Mountains National Park?

Great Smoky is in the eastern part of the United States on the Tennessee-North Carolina border. Gatlinburg, TN is the most popular gateway town.

Rocking chairs outside of a vacation home

Top Vacation Cabins near Cades Cove in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Stay in a cabin on the “peaceful side of the Smokies” in Townsend, Tenn., and surrounding towns in Blount County. Here are three of our favorites.

The Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC

Washington DC and Outer Banks to Great Smoky Mountains National Park Road Trip

Visit historic sites, the beach, and carefree towns before exploring America's most visited national park from its North Carolina entrance.

Scenic chairlift overlooking Gatlinburg, Tenn.

Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, Northern Gateways to Great Smoky

Full of souvenir shops, restaurants, and attractions, the bustling towns can be a sensory overload or a rollicking good time, depending on your perspective.

Joseph S. Hall traveled throughout the Great Smoky Mountain region in the late 1930s and early 1940s, recording stories and songs to document the speech of the people who lived in the mountains. Steve Woody shared a bear hunting story with Joe Hall and his recording machine at the Woody farm in Cataloochee in 1939. Photo by NPS Archives

Song Catcher Joseph Hall's Smoky Mountain Music

Joseph S. Hall recorded Smoky Mountain stories and songs in the 1930s. Purchase the music CD of 34 original recordings from the Great Smoky Mountains Association.

Firefighters.

Wildfires Lead To Closure of Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Wildfires burning in and near the national park, closed the park on Monday, Nov. 28, 2016 and caused residents in fire-impacted areas to flee from their homes.

A barefoot girl wandering in the woods.

The Ghost of Lucy on the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail

On this forested drive you'll see historic cabins and mills sprouting up under the canopy of trees, and possibly Lucy, a ghost looking for a ride.