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Best Things to Do in the Smoky Mountains

Elk in Smoky Mountains

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Come enjoy the rolling, forest filled hills of the Great Smoky Mountains! Straddling the borders of North Carolina and Tennessee, this mountain range contains some of the best cities of each state. From Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg in Tennessee to Cherokee and Bryson City in North Carolina. The Smoky Mountains are littered with outdoor activities, diverse wildlife, spectacular views and tourist attractions for the whole family. Below are a few of our picks for the best things to do in the Smoky Mountains.


Top Smoky Mountain Tourist Attractions 

If you are looking for tourist attractions, a few of the cities within the Smokies are perfect for just that. Here are some of the most popular tourist attractions that will give you memories to share for years to come.


1. Dollywood Parks. 

Located in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, Dollywood is a huge mountain themed amusement park owned by Dolly Parton, the famous country singer. The park features coasters, rides, and games for all ages! It even contains a splash water park for the hot summer months. 


2. Gatlinburg Sky Lift Park. 

This is a must-see for visitors to Gatlinburg, Tennessee. The Gatlinburg Skylift Park features an open chair lift ride 1,800 feet up to skydecks that perch above the city. Sit in a rocking chair or view the sky through far off binoculars. Enjoy the sky cafe after a walk across the sky bridge, the longest bridge in North America with a clear glass bottom in the middle of the bridge! 


3. Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort. 

Housed on the reservation in Cherokee, North Carolina, Harrah’s Casino is great for adults or family trips. See a concert, enjoy fine dining, or if you are feeling lucky, try to beat the house.


4. Great Smoky Mountains Railroad. 

A great way to sightsee the Smokies, is by train! All aboard for a trip through the smokies, in open comfy cabins. Breathe in the fresh mountain air in Bryson City, North Carolina. 


5. Clingman’s Dome. 

Sitting at 6,643 feet, Clingman’s Dome is a great way to view the Smokies. At the top, an observation tower allows you to see for miles.


6. Tuckaleechee Caverns. 

Become an amateur spelunker! The Caverns are deep and oddly beautiful, and a great natural attraction. 


Smoky Mountain Outdoor Activities 

Many of the outdoor activities available in the Smoky Mountains are accessible in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. Go camping, sleep under the stars, and enjoy outdoor fun for a whole weekend!

  • Wildlife. The Great Smoky Mountain National Park is home to various wildlife including black bears, turkeys, white-tailed deer, and much more. They are known for their herds of elk in the Cataloochee Valley and their synchronous fireflies which time their flashing in rhythm with each other.
  • Tubing. Head up to Bryson City or Cherokee, North Carolina and visit Deep Creek or the Tuckasegee River for a great tuning experience. Float down the river through both calm and rapids on nature’s adrenaline rush! 
  • Sightseeing. One of the most popular things to do in the Smokies is to drive through the Foothills Parkway and enjoy the breathtaking autumn colors painted on the mountains. Visitors can also stop by Cades Cove and see some of the historicity preserve homes and buildings that housed settlers in the Smokies. 
  • Hiking. An obvious choice for anyone with a love for the outdoors is to enjoy the many hiking trails throughout the Smokies in both North Carolina and Tennessee. Always consider the weather before you go as it has the ability to change the safety of your trek drastically. 
  • Kayaking. Glide across the cool, serene waters of the Fontana lake in a single or double kayak! 
  • Fishing. The Smoky Mountain National Park is home to 67 species of fish including trout, bass, darters, and shiners. Not all streams contain fish, so it always helps to plan accordingly with the help of park rangers. 

These are only a few things to do in the Smoky Mountains. Located an hour outside of Asheville, the Great Smoky Mountain National Park is the perfect getaway for Western North Carolina residents. Plan a trip or live with spontaneity and come see all the Smoky Mountains have to offer!

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