How to Celebrate the National Park Service’s 98th Birthday in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Sunrise inside the Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Birthdays are always a special occasion to celebrate, especially if you are the National Park Service. Today, the National Park Service is celebrating a milestone anniversary of 98 incredible years, and what better way to celebrate than by offering free admission to visitors to all national parks in the United States.

That’s right, admission to all of the 133 parks maintained by the National Park Service will be free of charge on August 25, 2014.

This may not mean much to visitors who are used to traveling to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, one of the few free national parks in the county. However, the National Park Service is still encouraging everyone to help them celebrate by spending the day in the park.

Ways You Can Celebrate the National Park Service’s Birthday in The Great Smoky Mountains National Park

In honor of the National Park Service’s wishes for everyone to come out and celebrate its birthday by visiting one of the national parks, we at Visit My Smokies have decided to give guests a break down of all the fun and exciting things to do in the Smoky Mountains.

Hiking

family looking out at Great Smoky Mountains National ParkThere are over 100 hiking trails in the Smoky Mountains. The difficulty rating on these trails range from fairly easy to quite strenuous, and what better way to help celebrate the National Park Service’s birthday than going out and discovering your new favorite Smoky Mountain hiking trail.

Click here to find our favorite historical hiking trails in the Smoky Mountains.

Go to a Visitor Center

You will be amazed by how much you can learn about the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the National Park Service by spending a few hours at one of the many Visitor Centers located throughout the area. Here, visitors will find interactive exhibits, books, games, puzzles, toys and many more items that visitors can take home with them to remember the time they spend in the Smokies.

Location for the Visitor Centers include:

  • Cades Cove Visitor Center
    • Location: Mid-way point on the Cades Cove Loop Road
  • Sugarlands Visitor Center
    • Location: 2 miles south of Gatlinburg on US-441
  • Clingmans Dome Visitor Center
    • Location:
  • Oconaluftee Visitor Center
    • Location: 2 miles north of Cherokee NC on US-441

For driving directions to any of these Great Smoky Mountains National Park Visitor Centers, please feel free to use the map below!

Enjoy an Auto Tour

In case you don’t feel like spending the day walking around outside in the August heat, you can always experience the Great Smoky Mountains National Park from the comfort of your car by exploring one of the many autor tours that run through the park. These scenic roadways are not only a great way to view some of the most incredible mountain scenery that the park has to offer, but it is also a good way to catch a glimpse at some of the park’s native wildlife before they take their winter naps.

Our favorite Smoky Mountain auto tours include:

  • historic cabin along the Roaring Fork motor trail in the Great Smoky Mountains National ParkCades Cove Loop Road: 11-miles round trip that features several historic home sites and a working grist mill
  • Newfound Gap Road: Road that connects Gatlinburg to Cherokee NC that has several scenic pull off spots where families can take pictures
  • Roaring Fork Motor Trail: 6-mile loop road located near the parking area for the Rainbow Falls trailhead that also offers several historic homesites, churches and buildings.

For viewing tips for the Smoky Mountain wildlife, please visit the National Park Service’s website: http://www.nps.gov/grsm/planyourvisit/wildlifeviewing.htm.

Camping

One of the best ways to connect with nature is to go camping in the Smoky Mountains. Imagine, you and your family are tucked in under the stars, and the only noise you hear are the crickets and birds playing in the trees.

Please note that the free admission for the National Park Service’s birthday may not cover all costs of camping, and visitors are still required to acquire a permit for camping in the Smoky Mountains.

Do you have a favorite place in The Great Smoky Mountains National Park that you want to visit to celebrate the National Park Service’s birthday? Let us know in the comments below!

Great Smoky Mountains National Park Turns 80

View of the Smoky Mountains from Newfound GapThe National Park Service is not the only thing celebrating a major milestone birthday this year. Back in June, our beloved Great Smoky Mountains National Park celebrated its 80th anniversary as a national park!

History of the National Park Service and The Great Smoky Mountains National Park

If it wasn’t for the help of the National Park Service, there is a chance that the Great Smoky Mountains National Park would not exist as it does today. It was thanks to members of this department wanting a park in the eastern United States that began the conversation of creating At the time, the National Park Service did not have the money to buy all the land necessary to create the park, so they turned to the community to help them raise money. When the money raised by the community was matched by a generous donation from John D. Rockefeller, Jr., the National Park Service was finally able to open The Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

If you would like to learn more about the National Park Service and its history with the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, please be sure to check out

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