6 of the Best Outdoor Things to Do in Gatlinburg and the Smoky Mountains

Abrams Falls hiking trail in the Great SMoky Mountains National Park
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Nothing beats spending time in the great outdoors when you visit the Smoky Mountains! You’ll have plenty of opportunities to explore the Smokies during your Gatlinburg vacation. Spending time outside is the perfect way to unwind and appreciate the beauty of the mountains! To help you plan your trip, we’ve made a list of 6 of the best outdoor things to do in Gatlinburg and the Smoky Mountains.

1. Go for a Hike

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is home to more than 850 miles of hiking trails. Each trail offers something special for visitors, from gorgeous mountain views to waterfalls. Hiking is a great way to see the beauty of the Smokies up close. Not only is it good exercise, but the rewarding views you’ll have along the way make every step worth it. Each season offers something special for hikers, like frozen waterfalls and icicles in the winter, fall foliage, and wildflowers in the spring and summer. There is a trail for everyone, from kids to avid hikers.

2. Go Horseback Riding

man horseback riding in the mountainsAnother way to enjoy the great outdoors is to go horseback riding. Travel off the beaten path on horseback and see gorgeous views and even some wildlife! Cades Cove Riding Stables offers guided trail rides through Cades Cove. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced rider, you’ll love the guided trail rides. If horseback riding isn’t your thing, Cades Cove Riding Stables also offers guided carriage rides. Relax in a horse-drawn carriage through the winding forest trails of Cades Cove. Along the ride, the carriage driver will entertain you with tales of the history of the area while pointing out native plant and animal life.

3. Go Whitewater Rafting

For an exciting outdoor activity, go whitewater rafting in the Smoky Mountains! Smoky Mountain Outdoors offers rafting trips that are fun for the whole family. You’ll coast down the Pigeon River, taking in the beautiful scenery as you raft! For an exciting and thrilling adventure, try their Upper River Trip. This trip features class 3 and 4 rapids and is the longest rafting trip on the Pigeon River! For a more scenic float, try the Lower River Trip, which takes you for a more relaxing ride down the river and is great for kids.

4. Relax on Your Cabin’s Deck

hot tub on deck of Gatlinburg cabin rentalYou won’t have to leave your Gatlinburg cabin to enjoy spending time outside. In fact, relaxing on your cabin’s deck is one of the best outdoor things to do in Gatlinburg. Grab your morning cup of coffee and watch the sunrise, or have a cookout with your family using the outdoor grill! Cabin decks also have hot tubs, where you can unwind after a busy day of exploring. You’ll love enjoying the fresh mountain air without having to even leave the cabin!

5. Have a Picnic

Having a picnic is a great way to spend quality time with loved ones in the great outdoors. Pack a picnic basket with all your favorite treats and share lunch in the sunshine! The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is home to plenty of picnic sites, or you can head to Mynatt Park in Gatlinburg to enjoy. Nothing beats sharing a delicious meal surrounded by the beauty of the mountains. If you don’t feel like packing your own basket, stop by one of the popular Gatlinburg restaurants and pick up food to go!

6. Go Camping

camping in the smoky mountainsFor a night spent underneath the Smoky Mountain sky, go camping! Camping is by far one of the best outdoor things to do in the Smoky Mountains. Not only do you get to spend the whole night enjoying time outside, but you’ll be surrounded by fun outdoor activities, whether it’s hiking, splashing in the river, or playing outdoor games like cornhole or volleyball. If traditional tent camping isn’t your style, there are plenty of RV sites available. Or, you can even go glamping and enjoy a more upscale camping experience!

More Outdoor Things to Do in Gatlinburg and the Smoky Mountains

When you want to enjoy the fresh mountain air, now you know the best outdoor things to do in Gatlinburg and the Smoky Mountains! You can also dine outside at a Gatlinburg restaurant, stroll along the Gatlinburg Parkway, or visit other outdoor attractions. For more ideas of what to do on your vacation, learn about other popular things to do in Gatlinburg.

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