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View of the Smoky Mountains in the springtime with purple haze in the background

Secrets of the Smokies: 7 Free Things to Do in the Smoky Mountains National Park

The Smoky Mountains are full of great attractions throughout Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge. However, for those of you wanting to branch out past the norm, we have the top 7 free things to do in the Smoky Mountains National Park.

  1. Check Out the Wildflowers in the Great Smoky Mountains

In March and April, the Smoky Mountains are full of wildflowers. If you want to add to the already beautiful views of the Smokies, make sure to hike around in the spring. One of our favorite trails is Smokemont. It is a 6 mile loop trail of moderate difficulty which is perfect for anyone looking to take beautiful pictures.Purple flowers in the Smoky Mountains Natioanl Park

Learn a few interesting facts about Smoky Mountain wildflowers by clicking here.

  1. Watch for Black Bears in the Smoky Mountains

There is a big chance you will see a bear! The Smokies, home to Cades Cove, are packed with wildlife from hawks, deer and the infamous black bears of the Smoky Mountains. To boost your chances of seeing the wildlife, make sure you come at either dawn or dusk as it is the most active time for the animals. You can drive through Cades Cove or park and hike out to some great historical sites as well. It is home to many interesting churches, old houses and cemeteries, too.

  1. Experience Nighttime Views of the Smoky Mountains

Nighttime view of Gatlinburg TNThe Smokies are full of grand views, but one that is underrated and little known is the nighttime view. The park hosts many night hikes for locals and visitors to add to the already spectacular experience of the Smoky Mountains. You can also catch a great view of the mountains from Gatlinburg at night just by walking along the Gatlinburg Parkway.

  1. See the Fireflies in the Smoky Mountains

In the spring, after you marvel at the wildflowers, make sure to stay, or come again, in April, to catch a sight of the synchronous fireflies. This is a truly magical moment to experience. Fireflies in the Smoky Mountains are expected around late April for 2015. Once tickets go on sale, they will sell out very quickly (within hours), so make sure you are ready to grab your tickets when they are available!

You can learn more about fireflies in the Smoky Mountains here.

  1. Play in the Snow in the Smoky Mountains

It is an all-season destination. The mountains get a big influx in the spring and summer, but imagine coming in autumn or winter. Those picturesque mountains are covered with color in the fall, but winter brings lots of snow into the mountaintops. There’s a great local ski crowd who visits Ober Gatlinburg throughout the winter season for fun in the snow, so join everyone in the mountains for winter in the Smokies!

  1. Visit Elkmont in the Great Smoky Mountains National ParkBeautiful view of the Smoky Mountains in the morning

Elkmont is a quaint little neighborhood that is full of century old houses that are begging to be investigated and photographed. Elkmont is known as being a historic district where you can truly experience the life of the early pioneers. If you’re looking to take some special pictures during your visit, take a trip to Elkmont!

  1. Cool Off Near the Sinks (Meigs Falls)

The Sinks is a popular summertime destination and is the place to be when the weather is hot if you’re looking for a cool down. When you spend some time near the Sinks you will immediately cool off with the chilly mist of the waterfall. The National Park Service doesn’t recommend swimming freely in the water pools that form at the falls as it can be extremely dangerous. It’s best to just snap a few photos and enjoy the atmosphere when you’re hanging out here.

There’s so many things to do in the Smoky Mountains, but of course, cabin rentals are the absolute best way to see the mountains. Visitors come from all around the country to stay in the warm, cozy cabins in the Smoky Mountains. You can rent cabins that are perfect for a couples retreat, family getaway or even a large group vacation. You get to wake up to a scenic view, sip your morning coffee and plan your day. After all your daily adventures you can even come back and relax in a bubbling hot tub.

For your stay, look at these Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge cabin rentals for the best, and most affordable, place to stay.

Special thanks to Cody McKinney for contributing this article for publication.