Located in the heart of the Southern Appalachian range, the Smoky Mountains is an all-season vacation spot for Americans. People of all ages find activities and places to visit in the cities, like Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, and Sevierville, with Southern cuisines, live performances, art galleries, tours, hiking trails, theme parks, museums, and much more.
The Smokies offer a blend of tourist experiences that anyone will like. Whether you want a fun family adventure or to experience the great outdoors, the Smoky Mountains is the place for you. If you are visiting for the first time, use this guide to plan your trip.
You can schedule a family weekend getaway, a weeklong, or even a month-long vacation. Make sure you bring the entire gang, including your pet, for a wholesome experience. The Smokies offer kid-friendly and pet-friendly staycation and entertainment spots. Therefore, you do not need to worry about leaving anyone behind.
Where to Stay
Whenever you visit a new place, the first question on everyone’s mind is where to stay. You will find numerous options like log homes or cabins, perfect for a large group. A vacation is more fun when you spend it with everyone under the same roof.
If you are visiting the Smoky Mountains with your kids, pets, the elderly, or other family members, you will find the best Smoky Mountain cabins in Tennessee.
The best thing about cabin rentals is that it offers a home-like stay away from home. You will find all the amenities like an indoor pool, game room, fireplace, stocked kitchen, and hot tub. Depending on your group size, you can rent a cabin according to the number of bedrooms.
However, make sure you book ahead to avoid high prices due to demand surges during peak holiday seasons. You will find the Smokies jam-packed with tourists during the peak season. You can book a cabin in either a family-friendly or a secluded spot.
Whichever site you pick will offer privacy, security, and breathtaking views of nature.
How to Enter the Great Smoky Mountains, National Park
The entrance to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is hard to miss, especially if traveling by road. However, the main gateways leading into the park are the Sugarlands Visitor Center and the Oconaluftee Visitor Center. Between the two centers is the Newfound Gap Road winding down for 29 miles between the parks in the Smokies.
Moreover, you will find numerous hiking trails from the National Park and some important historical sites along the road. Here, you will find more access points like the Cades Coves in the west and the Cataloochee Valley in the east.
However, if you are flying into the Smokies, the closest airport in Knoxville is McGhee Tyson Airport. From the airport, it will take you a 70-minute drive to enter the park near Gatlinburg.
Another airport, Ashville, NC, is about 80 minutes from the National Park, followed by Charlotte Douglas Airport, about 3 hours away, and Chattanooga Airport.
You will need to book a car to get to and from the airport, as there is no public transit available to take you. Therefore, schedule a car service in advance to avoid waiting time.
Things to Do
You will find endless activities and adventures in the Great Smokies. From hiking and scenic jeep rides to rock climbing adventure, Clingmans Dome, Foliage, and Mountain Farm Museum, there is much to see and experience.
Remember to visit the Horseback Riding Stables in Sugarland, and Cades Cove. If you get tired from hiking, you can ride horseback or hop inside an open jeep for scenic rides along ridgeline roads.
During the ride, you will come across ancient civilizations, waterfalls, river streams, gristmills, old preserved log cabins and cottages, one-room school buildings built by the early settlers, and exceptional wildlife.
If you want to spot more wildlife, turn towards the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail during winter at dawn and sunset for excellent views. You will also find elks in the Cataloochee Valley that re-entered the Smokies in 2001.
If you love fishing or want to learn, you will find several streams full of freshwater trout in the National Park and Pigeon Forge. Visit the Western North Carolina Fly Fishing Trail for an incredible fishing expedition.
Trip Cost to the Smokies
It is better to plan your trip costs before you pack your bags and get a cost estimate for the entire trip. First, see how many days you plan to visit the Smoky Mountains. Then, compute the cabin stay costs.
Booking a single cabin will be more cost-efficient than booking separate rooms for the group. That way, you can book single extra services like laundry, cleaning, pet-sitting, etc. However, you may need to pay for the extra kitchen supplies or services.
It might be helpful to know that there is no fee for entering the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, unlike other National Parks in the US. It is because the old residents gave up their land and contributed their proceedings to create the family-friendly park.
However, renting a cab to and from the airport might cost you. If you are traveling on a budget, it is better to travel in your car. The best thing about the Smokies is that it is easily accessible from nearly all major cities by road, making travel much easier.
You will also be glad to know that all the major outdoor attractions, such as the Clingmans Dome, Cades Cove, Mountain Farm Museum, and hiking trails, are free to enter.
This guide should help you plan your trip to the Great Smoky Mountains from the best places to stay, places to visit, and remaining within your budget.
Seeing the Smokies with your entire family will be much more fun since it is a family-friendly, kid-friendly, and pet-friendly park.
Moreover, you will find several entrances leading into the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. You can explore numerous hiking trails depending on their difficulty.
If you get tired, you can go horseback riding or take scenic jeep rides and come across wildlife, ancient civilizations, and other wonders of nature during your ride.