The Great Smoky Mountains is an area that everyone needs to experience in their lifetime. Nestled in the middle of this wonderful area is the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Our tour will help you make sure you experience the best of what this spectacular national treasure has to offer – panoramic mountain views, a wide range of recreational activities and a chance to step back in time and see what life was like “way back when."
The park straddles the border between North Carolina and Tennessee and it has three main entrances: In Gatlinburg and Townsend, TN, and in Cherokee, NC. Here’s a bit of trivia. The Smoky Mountains aren’t really smoky at all. They get their name from the perpetual blue mist that hangs over the mountains that is created by the moist air. It only adds to the park’s natural beauty. Plan to spend plenty of time on your visit because there’s plenty to do, including scenic drives, hiking, bicycling, fly fishing, kayaking and horseback riding. If you visit the park in the spring or summer, you’ll quickly discover why it’s called “wildflower national park.” During your visit, you may also see some elk, white-tailed deer or even a black bear.
The park covers more than one half million acres, so since you can’t see everything, here are a few highlights you won’t want to miss:
Cataloochee Valley – Surrounded by rugged mountain peaks, this valley was home to 1,200 people back in 1910, and several of its historic buildings have been preserved, including two churches, a school and several homes and outbuildings. It’s also a great place to view deer, elk, turkey and other wildlife, especially in the mornings and evenings. For any hikers in the group, the Boogerman Trail offers a seven-mile loop through an old growth forest.
Roaring Fork – As you might guess from its name, this is a rushing mountain stream, and one of the largest and fastest moving streams in the park. When you’re visiting this area, you can take the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail, take a self-guided walking tour of an authentic mountain farmstead and/or take a moderately strenuous 5.4 mile roundtrip hike to one of the park’s most popular waterfalls.
Cades Cove – The setting of this lush valley is as idyllic as its name suggests. In the early 1800s, it was home to a thriving community of more than 250 settlers, and many of its buildings, including churches, a working grist mill, barns, log houses and other structures have been faithfully restored and can still be seen today. Thanks to an 11-mile loop road, it’s easy to take in the sights of Cades Cove at a leisurely pace.
Clingmans Dome – Measuring more than 6,600 feet tall, Clingmans Dome is the highest point in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Depending on weather and air conditions, the views from the top can span from 20 to 100 miles, and the temperature can be 10-20 degrees cooler than at the base. The Appalachian Trail crosses Clingmans Dome, and it is the highest part on the trail between Georgia and Maine.
Also, be sure to take in some authentic Appalachian culture when you’re in the area. The region proudly embraces its past through art, music and dance.
Helpful resource: If you own an iPhone or Android smart phone, you can download a free Smokies Visitor Guide that includes information on trip planning, recreation and services along with a park map.
Where to Camp: Twin Creek RV Resort (Gatlinburg) – Family owned and operated since 1984, Twin Creek RV Resort offers the peace and beauty of camping with all of the comforts and conveniences of a full-service RV resort. Just imagine going to sleep with the sound of a rippling stream just outside your window. Twin Creek also offers on-site car rentals, camper supplies and grocery store, a playground and free Wi-Fi. Sorry, no tents and there are some pet restrictions.
Cove Creek RV Resort (Sevierville) – Cove Creek RV Resort offers luxury RV living with an unencumbered view of Cove Mountain in the peaceful Smoky Mountain area known as Wears Valley, right between Pigeon Forge and Townsend, TN. This upscale RV campground location offers convenient access to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Cades Cove, and Townsend river tubing, and the best Pigeon Forge attractions including Dollywood, Titanic Museum, live entertainment, and great restaurants.