Nestled among the dramatic Blue Ridge border of Tennessee and North Carolina, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park transports visitors to a breathtaking land of incredible mountains, lush forests and exciting wildlife. Great Smoky Mountains National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the most visited national park in the United States, treats park-goers to a complete range of out-in-the-open experiences from peaceful to exciting in the best natural areas that Mother Nature has to offer.
The thick forests of Great Smoky Mountains National Park make excellent wildlife habitats and provide visitors with wonderful opportunities to see fauna in natural settings. Dense foliage may hide woodland animals, so grab a pair of binoculars and head for open areas like Cades Cove and Cataloochee at dawn or dusk for the best wildlife watching venues. Keep a safe distance while keeping a keen eye out for black bears, deer, raccoons and turkeys. Also watch for elk that were reintroduced into the park in 2011. For a relaxed wildlife-filled drive, try 6-mile-long Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail, which gives travelers opportunities to see some of the 1,500 bears that live in the park from the comfort of inside vehicles.
Take a Hike
More than 800 miles of trails wind around the geological treasures of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. These trails offer casual-to-series hikers opportunities to discover the gems of Appalachia country on short strolls, mountain summits, waterfall getaways and everything in between. Popular trails of Great Smoky Mountains National Park include the Appalachian Trail, Abrams Falls Trail, Gregory Bald Trail, Rich Mountain Loop Trail, Bullhead Trail, Rainbow Falls Trail, Trillium Gap Trail, Lower Mount Cammerer Trail, Old Settlers Trail, Clingmans Dome Trail, Forney Ridge Trail, Laurel Falls Trail, Gatlinburg Trail, Sugarland Mountain Trail, Alum Cave Bluff Trail, Chimney Tops Trail and The Boulevard Trail. Backcountry discovery options are also available with proper permits.
Cast out into the wilds and angle for choice wild trout and smallmouth bass in the over 2,000 miles of cold streams flowing through Great Smoky Mountains National Park. While fishing possibilities exist in the park year-round, be sure to check out and secure proper fishing and license requirements before heading to the park.
Unique history thrives among the park’s historic districts and buildings. Verdant Cades Cove valley boasts ancient Cherokee settlements, while Elkmont enjoys a fascinating history as a pioneer and logging town. Budding explorers will appreciate the Cherokee village at Oconaluftee Archaeological District, part of the National Register of Historic Places. Step back in time at Noah Ogle Place, a traditional Appalachian mountain homestead in Sevier County. Roaring Fork Historic District spotlights European Settlement in the Great Smoky Mountains area.
In addition to wildlife viewing, hiking, fishing and historical exploration experiences, Great Smoky Mountains National Park offers biking expeditions and equestrian treks. The remarkable vistas, diverse flora and fauna, and fantastic adventuring backdrop of this beloved park make it the ultimate recreation destination.