The National Park

World-class hiking. Abundant waterfalls. A rich cultural history. Unparalleled wildlife diversity in a unique expanse of nature at its very best. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the country’s most-visited national park and an internationally sought-after getaway destination. Nestled in the foothills of the park, Gatlinburg is the perfect spot to retreat and plan your stay.

 

Hiking and Waterfalls

800 miles of perfect

The best way to experience the Smoky Mountains is to do what the original settlers and explorers did: hit the trails. From the original Appalachian Trail to breathtaking wildflower walks, there are 150 Smoky Mountain trails covering 800 miles of pristine backcountry. Waterfalls, wildlife, valleys and vistas are everywhere. Check out our guide to learn more.

This year, we’re celebrating the centennial of the National Park Service. To honor the first 100 years and launch into the next century, the Park Superintendent has committed to hiking 100 miles of park trails during 2016–and he invites you to join in on this challenge! Whether you’re new to hiking in the Smokies or have seen most or all the trails in the park before, we encourage you to set a goal of reaching 100 miles during this special year of celebration, between January 1 and December 6, 2016. You may hike any 100 miles of maintained trails in the park. Your miles can include everything from front-country nature trails to the extensive trail network in the backcountry. You may hike the same trail repeatedly or different trails, and you may hike them solo, with a group or even with a guide. The goal is to inspire you to explore and to enjoy the many benefits the park has to offer. Learn more.

 

Wildlife & Nature

Undisturbed for over a million years

Thousands of species of plant and animal life have been documented in the Smokies, and more are being discovered every year. Because the last Ice Age didn’t get this far south, and the sea never came this far inland, flora and fauna have been thriving and
diversifying here for millennia. When you venture into one of the world’s few International Biosphere Reserves, black bears and wildflower blooms are only the beginning. Bring your binoculars, enjoy the show, and read more about what to expect
in our Guide.

 

Scenic Drives

This is why Sunday drives were invented.

There are three entrances to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park from Gatlinburg, and every one takes you into a section of the 800 square miles of unspoiled Appalachia. Every trip to the Smokies begins with a drive on the Newfound Gap Road, so pack a picnic and see highlights along the way, including the Sugarlands Visitor Center, Chimney Tops, Newfound Gap, Clingman’s Dome Road, Ocanaluftee Valley and Mingus Mill. Wildflower watchers love exploring the Greenbrier, a six-mile road featuring the most colorful flora in the Park. Porter’s Creek is particularly vibrant in March and April. If you’re feeling adventurous, hop out, hike four miles, and witness the tallest falls in the Smokies at Ramsey Cascades. Whether you arrive during the rich, green days of spring and summer, the crazy quilt of autumn color or the sparkling white of winter, your drive through the roads of Great Smoky Mountains National Park is guaranteed to be an adventure in itself.

 

Picnic in the Park

Break bread with family and friends.

Gatlinburg is home to many scenic and accessible spots that are just perfect for bringing back the lost joys of picnicking. Admire the antique architecture of century-old cabins and mills at Cades Cove picnic area. Soak up the scenery of the Little Pigeon river at the Chimneys picnic area, or share a meal at one of several other designated picnic spots near Gatlinburg, including Metcalf Bottoms. It’s a great way to relax and unwind during your vacation.