smoky mountains
May 12, 2020

There are many reasons the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the most visited national park in America! From hundreds of miles of hiking trails, to diverse wildlife, to the fact that it’s free to enter — there are so many things to love about the Smoky Mountains. To help you learn more about all the fun things to do in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, we’ve made a list of the activities you have to try.

1. Explore Cades Cove

Historic cabin in Cades Cove

Cades Cove is the most popular destination in the Smoky Mountains! This area has an 11-mile, one-way loop road that provides an unforgettable scenic drive for visitors. Make sure while you’re here you get out and explore! Cades Cove is home to beautiful structures that give you a glimpse into Smoky Mountain history. Some of the most popular buildings to explore in Cades Cove are the 3 historic churches, the cable mill, and the John Oliver Cabin. This is also a great area to spot your favorite Smoky Mountain wildlife, like black bears and white-tailed deer.

2. Hike to a Waterfall

Another can’t-miss thing to do in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is to hike to a waterfall! The Smokies is home to more than 850 miles of hiking trails, and some of the best miles will take you to breathtaking waterfalls. You can get to one of the most popular waterfalls from Cades Cove! The Abrams Falls trailhead is located about 5 miles along the Cades Cove Loop Road. You’ll turn right onto a gravel road after crossing Abrams Creek. It’s then about a 2.6-mile hike to get to the stunning waterfall! Abrams Falls is only 20 feet high, but the volume of water rushing over the falls is what makes it impressive. Other popular waterfalls in the Smoky Mountains are Laurel Falls, Grotto Falls, Rainbow Falls and Ramsey Cascades.

3. Go for a Scenic Drive

Incredible views of the Smoky Mountains from Newfound Gap Road.

One of the best ways to explore the Smoky Mountains is by taking a scenic drive. Some of the best views of the mountains can be seen right from your car! We already mentioned Cades Cove as a popular scenic drive, but there are other roads you can travel in the park that each offer something special. Newfound Gap is a 31-mile stretch of road that travels right through the park’s center! There are many scenic overlooks where you can pull off and enjoy the view. Other popular scenic drives include the Foothills Parkway and Little River Road.

4. Discover a Hidden Gem

One thing you have to try when you visit the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is uncovering some of the hidden gems throughout the area. We know you love visiting the popular areas in the park, but you don’t want to miss out on some of the best-kept secrets either! There’s the House of the Fairies located in the Twin Creeks area of the park, the Walker Sisters Place located near the Little Greenbrier Schoolhouse, and the Elkmont Troll Bridge located in the Elkmont area. You’ll love exploring some of the lesser known spots in the Smokies and discovering these hidden gems along the way!

5. Go Horseback Riding

2 women enjoying horseback riding in gatlinburg

When you’re looking for exciting things to do in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, go horseback riding! Cades Cove Riding Stables offers guided trail rides so everyone can enjoy the fun of horseback riding in the Smoky Mountains. You’ll be in control of your own horse as you follow your guide through the woods in Cades Cove. In addition to horseback riding, Cades Cove Riding Stables also offers guided carriage rides. Travel through the winding trails in a horse-drawn carriage! Both are fun activities you have to try when you visit the national park.

We bet you can’t wait to visit to try these fun things to do in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park! Learn more about the area before your vacation!