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Nothing beats exploring the natural beauty of the Smoky Mountains. When you visit, you can take a scenic drive, go for a hike, or take a tour of historic sites. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park surveyed more than 600 groups of visitors to see what their favorite things to do in the park are. We’ve made a list of the top 6 things to do in the Smoky Mountains National Park chosen by you!
1. Viewing Scenery/Scenic Drives
Your favorite activity in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is taking in the scenery and going for scenic drives! Out of the people surveyed, 52% chose viewing scenery and scenic drives as their favorite thing to do. The Smoky Mountains are full of unbeatable views throughout the year, from the mountains covered in fall foliage to cascading waterfalls. To take in the sights from the comfort of your car, try one of the popular scenic drives! The Cades Cove Loop Road is one you don’t want to miss. This 11-mile one-way loop has historic sites and structures, wildlife, and beautiful scenery. You can see a working grist mill, churches, black bears, white-tailed deer, and more.
2. Walking & Hiking
Your next favorite activity is walking and hiking. Twenty percent of people surveyed chose walking and hiking as their favorite thing to do in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. With more than 850 miles of trails to explore, there is something for every skill level. Whether you’re up for a more challenging hike or want a scenic stroll, there is a trail for you! If you want to see a waterfall along your hike, hike the Laurel Falls Trail or Ramsey Cascades. For gorgeous views, hike the Alum Cave Trail or Gregory Bald Trail. Hiking is the best way to see the Smokies’ natural beauty up close.
3. Viewing Wildlife
It’s always exciting to spot wildlife on your trip to the Smoky Mountains! Viewing wildlife was chosen as a favorite activity by 11 percent of visitors. Some of the wildlife you might see in the national park are white-tailed deer, black bears, and turkeys. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is home to 65 species of mammals, more than 200 varieties of birds, 67 native fish species, and more than 80 types of reptiles and amphibians. The best places to spot wildlife are Cades Cove, the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail, and the open fields near the Sugarlands Visitor Center.
It’s never a bad idea to have your camera handy when you visit the Smoky Mountains! Four percent of visitors chose photography as their favorite activity in the national park. Some of the best places to take pictures are Newfound Gap, Clingmans Dome, Cades Cove, and Mount LeConte. You can also take pictures of the beautiful waterfalls, like Rainbow Falls and Abrams Falls.
Although only 4% chose camping as their favorite activity, it’s the best way to end your trip to the Smoky Mountains. Nothing beats a night underneath the Smoky Mountain sky after a day spent exploring! The national park itself has its own variety of campsites, from frontcountry to backcountry. You can also choose to stay at one of the nearby campgrounds in the area! Check out all the best places for camping in the Smoky Mountains.
6. Historic Sites
The Smoky Mountains are rich in history, and 3% chose visiting historic sites as their favorite activity in the park. Cades Cove is home to fascinating historical sites, including cabins, churches, barns, and a grist mill. You can also explore Little Greenbrier! The Little Greenbrier area is home to both the Little Greenbrier Schoolhouse and the Walker Sisters Place, two buildings on the National Register of Historic Places. To get to the buildings, take the trail that begins at the Metcalf Bottoms Picnic Area near Wears Valley.
These 6 activities in the Smoky Mountains were chosen by you as some of the best! Learn more about the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and start planning your visit to enjoy all these activities and more.