5 Great Things About Smoky Mountains You Simply Can’t Afford to Miss
Historic sites, waterfalls, sky lifts and amazing views are all part of the attractions of being in the Smoky Mountains. There are so many activities to do and attractions to visit. Here are five things you can’t afford to miss.
1. Stay in a cabin in Gatlinburg
Stay in a cabin and explore the Great Smoky Mountain area of Gatlinburg. The team at Smoky Mountains Realty Partners offers Smoky Mountains Cabin Rentals that will be your ‘home away from home’ while you explore. The cabins are nestled in the Great Smoky Mountains, so you’re surrounded by magnificent views.
Find a spot on the iconic yellow seats of the sky lift at Gatlinburg SkyLift Park and experience the view over Crockett Mountain. An activity the whole family will enjoy is a trip to the Hollywood Star Cars Museum in the center of Gatlinburg.
See the 1996 TV show Batmobile and the car from Batman Returns. Other attractions in the town are the Dollywood Amusement and Theme Park and Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies.
2. Experience the view from Clingmans Dome
Gatlinburg has the highest elevation point along the Appalachian Trail - Clingmans Dome. At 6,625 feet, it sits at the top of the park. Take the scenic access road from Newfound Gap and walk half a mile to the summit. Don’t miss the view from the spaceman-like observation tower right at the top. Clingmans Dome is very popular, so going early in the day can help you to beat the crowds. It is about 20 miles from Gatlinburg.
3. Hike a section of the Appalachian Trail
The famous Appalachian Trail bisects the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Walking the whole trail is only for those who enjoy an extreme challenge, but it is possible to hike sections of it.
Newfound Gap, which is about 16 miles from Gatlinburg, is the only point where the Appalachian Trail crosses a road. The hike from Newfound Gap to Clingmans Dome is about seven miles. If you have more stamina, you can continue your hike to Silers Bald, which is five miles one way west from Clingmans Dome.
4. Take in some pioneer history
Before it became a national park, many settlers farmed in the hidden valleys of the Smoky Mountains. There are still over 90 historic buildings in the park.
Cades Cove is about 33 miles from downtown Gatlinburg. The drive there is a beautiful one with breathtaking views, so it goes by in no time. The drive through the Cades Cove Loop can take two to four hours, depending on the traffic. The cabins, churches, mills and churches in Cades Cove date back to the early 1800s. You can see the John Cable Grist Mill, which was built in 1868 and still operates today.
5. Hike to a waterfall
Inside the Great Smoky Mountains National Park are more than 100 waterfalls and cascades. The miles of streams and rivers also have many smaller falls and cascades. If you want to go to Rainbow Falls, it is accessible from the Cherokee Orchard parking area on the Roaring Fork Motor Trail. The hike from the parking area to Rainbow Falls is 2.6 miles.
Grotto Falls, a bit further along the Roaring Fork Motor Trail, is a good place to cool off in the summer months. It’s a 1.3-mile trail to the falls, and you can walk under the waterfall through a small grotto.
Another accessible waterfall hike near Gatlinburg is to Laurel Falls, a multi-tiered waterfall. From Gatlinburg, take the Little River Gorge Road and drive for about six miles to access the trail.