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The Smoky Mountains are sometimes referred to as “God’s Country,” and it’s easy to see why! The Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the surrounding cities are home to some of the most spectacular scenery in the United States. Visitors come from all over the world to behold the majestic beauty of the mountains and feel closer to nature. To help you make the most of your next vacation, Visit My Smokies has put together a guide to six of the most inspirational places in the Smoky Mountains.
1. Cades Cove
It’s just about impossible to visit Cades Cove without feeling a deep sense of wonder. This stunning valley is truly a world unto itself; a snapshot of the Smokies as they once were centuries ago. Watching horses graze in a wide open field while the sun plays lightly on the mountains is sure to take your breath away.
Visitors will definitely want to spend some time in Cades Cove’s three historic churches: the Primitive Baptist Church, Methodist Church, and Missionary Baptist Church. These places of worship were pillars of the devout community in Cades Cove, and the beautiful buildings still radiate warmth and grace. For more information about the valley’s churches, read our step-by-step guide to the Cades Cove Loop Road.
2. Clingmans Dome
As the highest point in the Smoky Mountains (and the entire Appalachian Trail), Clingmans Dome offers unparalleled views. From atop this observation tower, visitors can see for over 100 miles on a clear day! Nothing puts things in perspective like being surrounded by panoramic vistas of the mountains. Please note that Clingmans Dome is inaccessible to cars from December 1 through March 31.
3. Parrot Mountain and Gardens
Tucked away in the foothills of the Smokies, Parrot Mountain is about as close to the Garden of Eden as you can get! This one-of-a-kind attraction boasts four acres of beautifully landscaped gardens that are home to hundreds upon hundreds of colorful tropical birds. Guests will love making some new feathered friends as they stroll around the idyllic grounds. Parrot Mountain is decorated with numerous Bible verses, and there is a special Prayer Garden that is adorned with Christian imagery.
4. Laurel Falls
Nothing reminds you of nature’s magic quite like a waterfall. Standing 80 feet tall, Laurel Falls is one of the most impressive sights in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. This amazing waterfall takes its name from the mountain laurel, an evergreen shrub that blooms near the falls in May. Laurel Falls is accessible via a 2.3-mile round trip hike that begins at a parking lot along Little River Road at the top of Fighting Creek Gap. Hikers with children should keep a close eye on their little ones, as the trail passes next to some steep drop-offs.
5. Dollywood Chapel
The Robert F. Thomas Chapel at Dollywood is a one-room country church that is not unlike the churches found in Cades Cove. Built in 1973 for the Goldrush Junction theme park, this charming chapel was named after a local doctor and minister who made as many as 1,000 house calls a year in the Smoky Mountains.
Coincidentally, Robert F. Thomas is also the physician who delivered Dolly Parton way back in 1946. Dolly’s father didn’t have any money when she was born, so he paid Dr. Thomas with a bag of oatmeal. It is incredibly inspiring to contemplate how Dolly was able to rise to prominence from such humble beginnings, all while never forgetting where she came from. The Robert F. Thomas Chapel hosts Sunday morning worship services at 11:30 a.m. during the regular Dollywood season.
Looking for more inspiration? Check out the Top 10 Instagram Photos of the Smoky Mountains to see some gorgeous pictures!