Staying Safe at Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Positioned along the border of Tennessee and North Carolina, Great Smoky Mountains National Park is an International Biosphere Reserve and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This national park consistently ranks among the most-visited national parks in the country, and its beautiful natural landscapes, year round accessibility, and proximity to several big cities leave no question as to why that is. Be sure to take the necessary safety precautions before your trip to Great Smoky Mountains National Park.


Due to the mountainous nature of the park, elevation ranges from 800 feet to 6,643 feet which can drastically affect the weather depending on your location. Be prepared for sudden and extreme changes in weather during any time of year. It’s essential to wear layers, sturdy shoes, and be prepared for rain or snow during your visit. Higher elevations yield cooler weather than do lower elevations, so you’ll want to be prepared for anything. Though winters in the Great Smoky Mountains are typically mild, weather extremes do arise, including snow storms at higher elevations.


You’ll surely experience your share of wildlife at Great Smoky Mountains National Park, so it’s important to take certain safety measures. More than 1,000 black bears live in the park so make sure to keep your distance, never approach bears, and store your food securely in bear bags or inside your locked car.

There are two types of venomous snakes living in the park, Timber Rattlesnakes and Copperheads. Watch where you step and reach, and if you see a snake, be sure to stay away.

Other Concerns

Climbing the waterfalls at Great Smoky Mountains National Park has claimed several lives and is extremely dangerous; do NOT climb the waterfalls! Water temperatures in the park’s streams can reach extremely cold temperatures, especially at the higher elevations, so if you plan to swim make sure to set a limit on your water exposure to avoid hypothermia. 

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WikiVoyage- Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Safety- Great Smoky Mountains National Park