The most visited National Park in the United States makes for an exciting family adventure! Bike, explore, and tour the natural ambiance of the mountains.Less
Couples or Family up to 4 people
This 6,643-foot round-top peak sits at the top of the park—and the state of Tennessee. To tag the high point, drive the scenic access road (closed December through March) from Newfound Gap and walk a half-mile to the summit. Don’t miss the view from the spaceship-like observation tower up top. The peak is popular, so go early in the day to beat the crowds. Strong cross-country skiers and snowshoers can also hit the high point in winter for guaranteed solitude.
The Smokies are famous for their colorful trees in fall. Drive or hike to the higher elevations for sweeping views over the park’s 100-plus tree species painting the hills in bright oranges, yellows, and reds; target mid-September for higher-elevation colors and mid-October for lower ones.
A dam on the Little River forms Fontana Lake along the park’s southern border, a long, skinny lake with 240 miles of shoreline that beckon kayakers, canoeists, anglers, and stand-up paddleboarders. Rent a boat in Fontana Village or from the Nantahala Outdoor Center for a day trip, or load up a touring kayak for a multi-day backcountry camping trip linking the remote campsites on the lake’s north shore.
Before it became a national park, this landscape was home to many settlers who farmed and milled in its hidden valleys. Today, more than 90 historic buildings remain in the park. In Cades Cove, you’ll find the greatest variety of churches, mills, barns, and cabins dating back to the early 1800s. Head to Oconaluftee to tour the Mountain Farm Museum, a collection of structures from the late 1800s, or visit nearby Mingus Mill. Cataloochee houses a school, church, and frame homes from the late 1800s
Over 100 prominent cascades and waterfalls can be found inside Great Smoky Mountains National Park plus numerous smaller cascades and falls on the 2,000 miles of streams and rivers. Hike the well-worn trails to view Grotto, Laurel, Abrams, or Rainbow Falls or drive to Meigs Falls, The Sinks, or Place of a Thousand Drips.
Seventy-one miles of this famous trail bisects Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Most vacationers don’t have the time (or willingness) to through-hike the entire run but there are some sections of the trail that can be done in a day. Take the trailhead from Newfound Gap Road 7 miles to Clingmans Dome (the trail parallels Clingmans Dome Road). Have more energy? Hike to Silers Bald 5 miles one-way west from Clingmans Dome.
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