The Great Smoky Mountains are a world-famous mountain range in the United States, stretching across the North Carolina and Tennessee border. Not only are the Great Smoky Mountains a National Park, but the area is home to a beautiful UNESCO World Heritage Site, attracting millions of visitors per year. Here are just 5 of the many reasons to plan a visit to the Smokies.
For unmatchable beauty and adventure, Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the place to be. This stunning mountain range reaches almost 7,000 feet in elevation, famous all over the world for its enchanting smoky haze. Come and hike miles of trails, see magnificent waterfalls, and witness plenty of wildlife like elk, coyotes, deer, and black bears in and around the park. Within the national park, you’ll discover miles of lush forests and a Biosphere Reserve committed to conservation and scientific research.
Those who love horseback riding can explore the park with a guided ride by the Sugarlands stable. For the most breathtaking observation point views, head to Clingmans Dome. At an elevation of over 6,600 feet, you’ll be on the highest point in the Smoky Mountains with an amazing 360 degree view of the mountains.
The Smoky Mountains are a truly beautiful place for a camping experience. Camping trips are the perfect way to reconnect with nature, withdraw from technology, and spend quality time with family and friends. Whether you need a car campsite, an RV site, or a backcountry campsite, you’re sure to find what you’ll need around the Smoky Mountains. Many campgrounds are full of outdoor activities like fishing, hiking, waterfalls, bike rentals, and horseback riding.
If camping isn’t your scene, there are also opportunities for ‘glamping’ or staying in a luxury cabin. Even if you aren’t a camper, you can still enjoy the Smoky Mountains since they’re one of the best places to explore the outdoors.
Blue Ridge Parkway is a 469 mile drive from end to end, that starts in Virginia (just south of Shenandoah National Park) and ends in North Carolina. Built to connect Shenandoah National Park to Great Smoky Mountains National Park, this relaxing drive showcases the natural beauty of the area. Along the way, you’ll see the deepest gorge east of the Grand Canyon (Linville Gorge), waterfalls, vistas, diverse flora and fauna, and Mt. Mitchell, the highest peak in the eastern US. Nicknamed “America’s Favorite Drive,” Blue Ridge Parkway offers stunning landscape of the southern Appalachian Mountains. Be sure to stop, enjoy, and take photos of the gorgeous scenery along the way.
Adventure seekers will be pleased to hear that the area around the Smoky Mountains offers plenty of opportunities for white water rafting. Whether you are looking for a thrill ride or a family friendly experience, you’ll be sure to find rapids that will suit you and your companions. White water rafting may be a bit out of most people’s comfort range, but beginner rafting is done with a guide, plenty of instruction, and with a lifejacket and helmet. For a different kind of vacation experience, be sure to put rafting on your to-do list. You’ll burn plenty of calories, up your endorphins, and learn some new skills!
Just north of Great Smoky Mountain National Park, you’ll find Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. Pigeon Forge has plenty of things to do and family fun to suit everyone. Here, you’ll find attractions such as Dollywood’s Splash Country (a fun-filled water park) and Dollywood (an action-packed theme park). Pigeon Forge also has shows featuring live music, dancing, comedy, dinner shows, and more. Select from a variety of theaters and a huge range of great restaurants as well.
The area also has plenty of museums, including WonderWorks and the Titanic Museum. Head outdoors for golf and go-carts, find plenty of shopping and spas, and even extreme sports like indoor skydiving and zip lining.
As you can see, if hiking isn’t really your thing, there’s lots more to do and see in the Smoky Mountains. If you’re planning a trip to the area, be sure to read more about Pigeon Forge.
For these reasons and more, you can see why the Smoky Mountains have become such a top destination for families. Just remember, as with any vacation, be sure to give yourself a budget and plan an itinerary so you can really make the most of your trip to the Smokies!
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