Thinking about heading to the Smoky Mountains? Imagine it has been a very long drive—it is a trip you have been preparing for a while now—and then, you are finally here. You are here in the Great Smoky Mountains; but, then, you are not quite sure what to do or where to start. You have probably already envisioned a lot of things to do here but maybe you are just not quite sure about what to do first or do next. From staying in cabins in the Smoky Mountains to going for scenic drives, there is a lot to do and many more. So where do you start?
At the mountains, there are many fun experiences and views to be had. With so many miles of beautiful nature around you, ranging from the National Park, the protected Great Smoky Mountains, and extending past the borders of Tennessee, you will surely find something that suits your fancy. With this article, hopefully, you should have an idea of what the next step is in your adventure once you get here.
You are in the Smoky Mountains! There is always something to see here. From the foothills to the peaks of the mountains, you are sure to find wonderful sights around you. Try driving around the recently completed (2018) Foothills Parkway. This scenic drive is considered to be one of the most beautiful in the country—and for good reason. With its breathtaking views and multiple overlooks featuring the Smoky Mountains, snap some photos and take in all the wonderful scenery. Of course, this is not the only scenic drive in the Smoky Mountains. There are plenty of others for you to try and experience, including, but not limited to, the Little River Road, which lasts for 36 miles on a round trip, Rich Mountain Road (14 miles round trip), Cataloochee Valley (26 miles round trip), and many others.
Hikes and Trails
You might like using your own two feet instead of being inside a car. With the great outdoors at your disposal, why not take a hike or walk a trail? Some of these scenic drives around the area also have places where you may park your car and start your hike. There are so many of these trails from which you may choose—all complete with incredible views, nature’s wonders, and interesting landmarks. Plenty of these trails generally provide you with a reward once you get to the end of it: perhaps a beautiful view of a waterfall in the area or amazing mountaintop views that allow you to see for miles on end. The scenery and colors around you can vary greatly depending on the season with many flowers blooming in only certain months.
Trails here in the Smoky Mountains can range from extremely difficult and strenuous to short and easy. Short and easy trails are great for beginners and those with families who are not experienced. As an example, the 2.6-mile roundtrip Grotto Falls trail rewards you at the end with a waterfall that you can walk behind. Other easy trails include Laurel Falls (2.3 miles) and The Gatlinburg Trail (3.9 miles), among others. If you are looking for something more difficult, try the peak of Mt. Leconte which you can reach via different trails varying in difficulty like the Alum Cave trail (11 miles roundtrip), Bullhead trail (5.9 miles roundtrip), and The Boulevard trail (15.6 miles roundtrip). Do note that this is a strenuous hike to the third-highest peak in the Smoky Mountains, so remember to bring the right kind of gear and supplies when going on a hike here, or anywhere at all!
On many of the trails, there are landmarks dotted throughout your path that make it all worth your while. Some of these can date back to the early 1800s when settlers farmed and milled in the area. In the Great Smoky Mountains National Park alone, there are more than 90 of these historic buildings that have stood all these years. From cabins, churches, mills, and barns, you will get to have a glimpse of what it was like to live here in the Smoky Mountains a couple of hundred years ago.
For the best places to see, try Cades Cove, one of the most popular destinations in the National Park. Most times, you can use only vehicles throughout the 11-mile road (a roundtrip!) although you may be allowed to go on the road by bike or on foot on some days. Plenty of history will be seen here, and it is also common to see wildlife in the area, so be aware of your surroundings. Other places that feature historic buildings within the National Park are the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail, Oconaluftee, and Cataloochee.
Take a Trip into the Towns
Around the region and surrounding the Great Smoky Mountains National Park are the gateway towns. These are filled with attractions and souvenirs, and they have really great places in which to dine. Before you jump into the nature around you, why not try visiting the local aquariums, museums, restaurants, and stores? The towns are great places to visit at the end of your day when you have completed that special hike or your adventure for the day. The Dollywood amusement park and resort, which was founded by Dolly Parton herself, is also located here. A great variety of museums can be found in the area, such as the Titanic Museum located in Pigeon Forge, the Hollywood Wax Museum, and even the Gatlinburg Pinball Museum, where you can play with one of the largest collections of pinball machines and retro-arcade games.
Rest in One of Smoky Mountain’s Cabins
All of this adventure can be tiring, and by evening, anyone would find themselves tired and ready to rest. So, why not rest in style in one of the Smoky Mountain cabins? Cabins and chalets offered by Overlook Cabin Rentals have everything that you need for your rest and relaxation here in the Smoky Mountains. With hot tubs and game rooms (most with pool tables), high-speed Internet, gas fireplaces, and premium cable TV, we have you covered for that time you will be resting up so you are ready for your next adventure come morning.