We visited the Great Smoky Mountains National Park this week. This is the most visited National Park in the United States. It didn’t feel busier than some of the others we have visited though, like Yosemite and Rocky Mountain National Park. Those parks had lines of cars and extremely limited parking in many places. We didn’t experience that at Smoky Mountains National Park. The park is spread out across over 800 square miles. There are so many trails, waterfalls, scenic drives, and other things to see and do for the many who visit each year.
The park is gorgeous and the mountains are incredible! Some of the highlights that I recommend hitting if you are there for only a few days include Clingman’s Dome, Newfound Gap Road, Cades Cove Loop Road, and the Sugarlands Visitor Center. You can see all these sights in 2-3 days. Of course you will want to take hikes at each of these spots to ensure that you get the real national park experience. While at Sugarlands Visitor Center you can purchase a variety of maps and informational materials. They sell them for about $1 each. These were very helpful for our visit and determining what we wanted to see while we were there. The hiking map we purchased provided a map with all the trails in the entire park and the mileage of each. This helped us decide which hikes to take each day. Don’t miss out on this map, because it will be the only one you need, even for your drives!
Gatlinburg, Tennessee is located on the very outskirts of the national park. We camped at the Smoky Bear Campgrounds in Gatlinburg. It is a five star RV park and I highly recommend this location.
There are many activities and shops in Gatlinburg. You could literally spend days in Gatlinburg itself enjoying the mountain views and tourist attractions.
I used Trip Advisor to find some of the top rated activities. Based on my search we decided to experience Anakeesta and a white water rafting tour through Outdoor Adventures. Both lived up to their reviews!
Anakeesta is a located downtown Gatlinburg. You ride up the mountain in a the Chondola (chair lift that also has gondolas). At the top there is fun for the whole family! They have zip lines, a children’s tree house play area, a ropes walkway, shops, and restaurant. They also have a mountain coaster which will be open soon. Here is a link to their website with some info in the photos below (from their website): https://www.anakeesta.com/play/
We rafted down the Piegon River with Outdoor Adventures. This company has 5 stars from over 1,300 reviewers on Trip Advisor. They do a great job! The kids had a blast, it was very safe, and the guides are amazing!! I highly recommend this company if you want a white river rafting adventure while you are in the Pigeon Forge/ Gatlinburg area. Here is a link to their website: https://raftoutdooradventures.com