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From hiking trails to scenic overlooks, you may think you have seen it all when it comes to the Smoky Mountains. However, you can make your next trip to the area even more memorable by adding one or all our favorite abandoned places to visit in Great Smoky Mountains National Park to your travel itinerary.
Not only will these sites give you a sneak peek into the rich culture and history that helped shape our area into the popular travel destination it is today, you will also learn a lot about the people who once lived here and learn more of their stories.
1. The Wonderland Hotel
As of late, the Wonderland Hotel has quickly become one of the most famous abandoned places to visit in Great Smoky Mountains National Park after a hiker’s video went viral of him ‘re-discovering’ the area. In the film, he takes you in and around several of the buildings that surround the former lodging site.
In its prime, the Wonderland Hotel was a bustling destination for both locals and tourists wanting to relax in the scenic beauty of the area for a couple of days. It housed 26 guest rooms, each that came with their own private bathroom with claw-foot tub. These features made the hotel one of the most luxurious in the area.
Located in the Elkmont area of the national Park, The Wonderland Hotel first opened its doors in 1912. In 1995, the majority of the original building was lost in a fire. In 2006, the National Park Service sent a team to save any artifacts and historically significant objects they could for preservation. Today, all that is left of the once-famous hotel are the abandoned buildings that are still standing.
UPDATE: Unfortunately, the Wonderland Hotel was destroyed by a fire in April 2016. The fire also damaged area hemlock and rhododendron trees, but thankfully the trees were there because they slowed the spread of the fire. The structure’s historic materials were removed in 2006, and the building was already slated for demolition pending funding.
To see the full video of one hiker’s tour of The Wonderland hotel, watch the video below!
2. Cades Cove
Drawing over 2 million visitors a year, we will admit that it is a bit of a stretch to call Cades Cove abandoned. However, for the purposes of this list, we are not talking about the area itself as much as we are the historic homesites and churches where people once lived and prayed.
The next time you visit this scenic place, remember the families who lived in the rustic cabins you hike to. Imagine the children that once played in the fields and the congregations that once met in the churches. Once you find out about the secrets of Cades Cove, you will find a whole new appreciation for the area, more so than just the natural beauty that it is known for.
Located near the Metcalf Bottoms picnic area, Little Greenbrier is one of our favorite abandoned places to visit in Great Smoky Mountains National Park because of how unique the area is. Here, you can find both an old school and the former home of The Walker Sisters, some of the last remaining residents of what is now the national park.
The Little Greenbrier School was much more than a school. It was a place of learning as well as a place of worship for the Primitive Baptist church. Between 1882 and 1936, it educated a countless number of students and employed nearly 50 teachers.
4. Civilian Conservation Corps Camp (Kephart Prong Trail)
In case you aren’t familiar, the Civilian Conservation Corps was a group of young men from the area who worked to build the hiking trails in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The organization was created by President Franklin D. Roosevelt under his New Deal program that provided unskilled manual labor jobs to aid in the conservation and development in rural areas. In addition to helping create the park that we know and love today, the CCC also helped families who struggled to find work during the Great Depression.
Today, you can see remnants of one of the old CCC camps when you hike along the Kephart Prong Trail. Although the houses and buildings are no longer standing, you can still see an old chimney from one of the barracks and the old rock framing for what was once the camp’s signboard.
Do you know of any abandoned places to visit in Great Smoky Mountains National Park that we missed on our list? Let us know in the comments below!