A breathtakingly beautiful U.S. national park, Great Smoky Mountains National Park has so much to offer. From astounding national landscapes to a wide variety of wildlife, it’s no question why this is one of the most visited national parks in the country. With plenty to see and explore, you won’t want to miss the top points of interest here.
A remote valley with historic significance, Cades Cove is a perfect destination for wildlife viewing in the park, as it was once a hunting ground for the Cherokee tribe. You will also have the chance to explore cabins from the 18th and 19th century early settlers of the region, as well as age-old churches, historic buildings, and a working grist mill.
This scenic gap is the lowest gap in the park that allows for driving. The picturesque 31-mile Newfound Gap cuts a winding path through the park, allowing visitors to get a true feel for all that Great Smoky Mountains National Park has to offer. This is one of the most popular drives in the area, as it passes several of the region’s top sights.
The highest point in Tennessee and in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Clingmans Dome offers phenomenal panoramic views of all that lies below. Note that the high elevation here can result in chilly weather so make sure to dress in layers. Drive up this steep, paved trail to the iconic observation tower.
These small but powerful falls were named for a Cherokee chief whose tribe once resided alongside the river. Though the falls create a natural pool at the bottom, swimming is not recommended as the power of the water and undercurrents pose a dangerous safety hazard. The 5-mile round trip hike to Abrams Falls is moderate, so don’t forget to bring plenty of water and good hiking shoes!
The Laurel Falls trail is 2.6 miles round trip and very strenuous, though it is among the most popular hikes in the park. A gorgeous waterfall, Laurel Falls is a favorite of many park visitors, so expect there to be some crowding here at any time of year.
Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail
One of Great Smoky Mountains National Park’s more popular trails, Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail is a 6-mile loop which guides visitors past both Rainbow Falls and Grotto Falls. With spectacular alpine views along the way, you’ll also see historic log cabins and villages left behind by the region’s original settlers.