Best things to Do in the Great Smoky Mountains

Oct 26, 2022 Best things to Do in the Great Smoky Mountains - Rent By Host
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If you want to enjoy a vacation in the US, then the Great Smoky Mountains should be your first choice. The reason is that these mountains are one of the most beautiful places in the US. They are a part of the Appalachian Mountain range and are located in Tennessee and the western portion of North Carolina. A vacation in these mountains will be an amazing mountain adventure that you will relive for a lifetime. The best things to do here include the following:

Climb Clingmans Dome

Located along the state-line ridge, Clingmans Dome is a popular park destination. Situated on a summit, the observation tower offers stunningly expansive views of the Smoky Mountains as far as the eye can see. Those who make their way to the top are awarded panoramic 360-degree views of one of the largest protected areas of land in the eastern United States.

To climb Clingmans Dome, you need to turn on Newfound Gap Road just south of the Newfound Gap and venture seven miles along Clingmans Dome Road where you will find a half-mile trail and a large parking area. This paved trail leads you to the 54-foot observation tower.

Go Autumn Leaf-Peeping

The Great Smoky Mountains are famous for autumn leaf-peeping. It is suggested that you drive or hike to the higher elevations for sweeping views over the park’s 100-plus tree species, including sugar maples, scarlet oaks, and hickories, painting the hills in bright oranges, yellows, and reds.

Peak leaf season is impossible to predict since it is dependent on rain, temperature, and other factors. But every year, you can count on the leaves first starting to turn colors in the high elevations where it is cooler.

If you must plan well in advance, target the second half of October for higher-elevation colors, and late October through the first week of November for lower elevations.

Stop to Smell the Wildflowers

Great Smoky Mountains National Park is famous the world over for its wildflower diversity, having over 1,500 kinds of flowering plants in the park, which is more than in any other North American national park.

Here, you can see where to find many of these flowers on the Species Mapper. In fact, the park is sometimes referred to as the “Wildflower National Park.” From the earliest hepaticas and spring beauties in the late winter to the last asters in the late fall, blooming flowers can be found year-round in the park.

This remarkable group of plants is adapted to the rhythm of the over-story trees. Ephemerals appear before the deciduous trees leaf out when full sunlight is streaming to the forest floor.

Paddle Fontana Lake

This lake has 240 miles of shoreline, of which 90 percent is owned and protected by the National Park Service or US Forest Service. It is a fantastic place for flat-water paddling. Portions of the 29-mile lake offer unobstructed views of Smoky’s highest peak, Clingman’s Dome. Birds like blue herons, kingfishers, osprey, and falcons are abundant around the deep blue water.

Although the lake is popular with motorized boats during the summer, its many tucked-away waterfalls and quiet coves offer ample escapes for the self-propelled explorer. The lake has many backcountry campsites on islands and along its shores, making it possible to combine hikes and paddling into a multi-day adventure.

Touch Pioneer History

Before this park became a national park, it was a shelter for many settlers who did farming and milling in its hidden valleys. At present, more than 90 historic buildings are located in this park.

In Cades Cove, you will get to see the greatest variety of churches, mills, barns, and cabins dating back to the early 1800s. You can move to Oconaluftee to tour the Mountain Farm Museum, a collection of structures from the late 1800s, or visit nearby Mingus Mill. Cataloochee accommodates a school, church, and frame homes from the late 1800s

Humans are known to have occupied this region since prehistoric times, adapting to changes in climate and environment.

Go Auto Touring on Historic Park Roads

Great Smoky Mountains National Park has over 800 square miles and is one of the most pristine natural areas in the East. An auto tour of the park offers a variety of experiences, including panoramic views, tumbling mountain streams, weathered historic buildings, and mature hardwood forests stretching to the horizon.

Moreover, there are 384 miles of road to choose from in the Smokies. Most are paved, and even the gravel roads are maintained in suitable condition for standard passenger cars. Travel speeds on most of the park's paved roads average 35 miles per hour. You should check for seasonal and weather-related road closures before planning an auto tour.

Get Sprayed by a Waterfall

If you like to indulge in splish-splash activities, then the waterfall in the Great Smoky Mountains is the right place for you. It has more than 100 prominent cascades and waterfalls plus numerous smaller cascades and falls on 2,000 miles of streams and rivers. You can hike the well-worn trails to view various features—Grotto, Laurel, Abrams, or Rainbow Falls or drive to Meigs Falls, The Sinks, or Place of a Thousand Drips.

Trail difficulty varies from easy to moderate and is noted for each hike. Waterfalls are accessible right by the road; others require an easy stroll down a level trail. Only two of the seven waterfalls require a moderate hike.

Walk the Appalachian Trail

The Appalachian Trail is one of the most spectacular hiking trails in the nation. It has 72 miles through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park following the Tennessee-North Carolina border bisecting the park. It is a spectacular place to get a taste of the AT before you commit to the idea of hiking the entire trail 2,181 miles from Georgia to Maine.

On the southwest end, where most Appalachian Trail hikers start, the trail crosses into the park at Fontana Dam, ascends up to its highest point at Clingmans Dome, and back down in elevation in the northeast area of the park where it exits at Davenport Gap.

Stay in a Rustic (or Glamorous) Cabin

Rustic Smoky Mountain cabins are available to be booked for mountain vacations in Tennessee. So, you can discover the best cottages near me and log cabins near me in luxurious Great Smoky cabin rentals

You can pick from Gatlinburg cabins, Pigeon Forge cabins, Sevierville cabins, and more mountain towns.

Since the national park has several entrances, you can use our Great Smoky Mountains Vacation Guide to see which area has your favorite activities and things to do. You can make a list of amenities and features important to you including pet friendly, fireplace, hot tub, games, fire pit, grill, views, etc.

Be an Unapologetic Tourist

Gateway towns surround the Great Smoky Mountains National Park with lots of attractions and souvenirs for tourists. After having a retreat to nature, you can emerge into town and enjoy various things—aquariums, rides, museums, and Dollywood, an amusement park and resort founded by country singer and actress Dolly Parton.

 A bit farther down the road, you will enter Asheville. There you can tour the Biltmore Mansion built by George Vanderbilt, and sample wine from their estate winery.


At Rent By Host, we provide vacation rentals all over the US at very affordable prices. Our rental services are available around the clock and you can contact us anytime to book your accommodations. With this rental by the owner, you will be able to save up to 15-20% booking fee.

Briefly Put!


Get set to enjoy a vacation in the Great Smoky Mountains. Include all the above-mentioned places in your bucket list. They all are interesting places to visit. Regarding booking accommodations, get in touch with Rent By Host!

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