Great Smoky Mountains National Park Information
Enjoy the beauty of the great outdoors when you choose lodging near the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
A vacation in Tennessee would not be complete without seeing the inspiration of this beautiful area. From arts and crafts to hiking and nature walks, you will be amazed by what these mountains have to offer.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park encompasses more than one-half million acres, making it the largest national park in the East. An auto tour of the park offers panoramic views, tumbling mountain streams, weathered historic buildings, and uninterrupted forest stretching to the horizon.
There are more than 270 miles of roads in the Smokies. Most are paved, and even the gravel roads are maintained in suitable condition for standard two-wheel drive automobiles. Travel times on most roads will average 30 miles per hour or slower. If you really want a hands-on experience, the Smoky Mountain Field School offers nature workshops and hiking adventures.
POINTS OF INTEREST
Alum Cave Bluffs
At 100-feet high and 51/2 miles round-trip, this trail can become somewhat strenuous towards the end. The bluffs rise 1,360 feet above New Found Gap and travel through Arch Rock, a tunnel that was created by erosion.
Just two miles south of Clingmans Dome, and one of the easiest balds to hike to, Andrews Bald is a great picnic spot that offers beautiful views.
A view of Cades Cove, 6,800-acre valley near Townsend, Tennessee, provides a representative sample of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park’s natural and cultural history as well as its recreational opportunities. There are many things to see and do here including a day hike to Abram’s Falls. An 11 mile, one-way road gives visitors a chance to tour the area with 19 designated points of interest that are numbered and indicated on a pamphlet that can be easily obtained at any of the Visitors Centers. For more information, view Cades Cove information from the NPS.
Consisting of twin rock formations, one of which contains a natural chimney in the rock, this area is quite scenic with small streams and dense forest. The trail is very popular and is often crowded in season. The hike is fairly easy except for the last few hundred feet which is a hands-and-knees scramble up the rock. From the chimney tops, you can see the twin summits located along New Found Gap Road.
At an elevation of 6,643 feet, Clingman’s Dome is the highest point in the Smokies. The 54 foot observation tower provides a 360º view of the surrounding mountains. On a clear, pollution-free day, this view extends as far as 100 miles and into 7 states. The average distance, however, is roughly 22 miles.
At 5,048 feet high, Newfound gap offers wonderful mountain views with very little effort, as it is located just off Hwy 441. Both the Appalachian Trail and the North Carolina / Tennessee state line cross through Newfound Gap from east to west.
At 6,593 feet, this peak is the third highest in the Park. Although the summit of LeConte is tree-covered and offers no views, impressive views are available at Cliff Tops and Myrtle Point on the other side of the summit. The summit can be reached via several trails including Alum Caves Trail (4.5 miles), Rainbow Falls Trail (6.5 miles), Bullhead Trail (6.5 miles), Trillium Gap Trail (7 miles) and the Boulevard (8 miles). The Rainbow Falls / Bullhead combination makes one of the Park’s best loops.
The Park has front country (developed) and backcountry (backpacking) campsites. The procedures and facilities for each are different. There also are a limited number of Group Tent Camping areas. Please visit the NPS site for more information concerning camping in the Park.
The Smoky Mountains are a premier wildlife viewing area. Early in the morning and late in the evening make the best viewing times. Cades Cove and Cataloochee have large open spaces and provide excellent opportunities for viewing wildlife. Wildlife sightings are common throughout the Park and may include bears, elk, deer, fox, wolves, and wild hogs. For more information, visit the NPS nature page.