Exploring Great Smoky Mountains National Park

  1. RV travel destinations
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  3. Great Smoky Mountains National Park

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is one of the most awe-inspiring and diverse natural wonders in the United States. With its verdant forests, cascading waterfalls, and stunning mountain ranges, this national park is a must-see for any outdoor enthusiast or RV traveler. Whether you are looking for a peaceful weekend getaway or an adventurous exploration, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park has something for everyone. From day hikes and camping to birdwatching and fishing, this park offers a wealth of activities and experiences.

Read on to learn more about why you should explore the Great Smoky Mountains National Park!Great Smoky Mountains National Park is an incredible landscape of lush forests, mist-covered mountains and abundant wildlife. Located in the southeastern United States, it is the most visited national park in the country and boasts over 800 miles of trails for hikers and outdoor enthusiasts to explore. This comprehensive guide will introduce you to the park’s geography, history, wildlife, activities and more. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is located in Tennessee and North Carolina, spanning more than 500,000 acres.

The terrain of the park ranges from deep valleys to high peaks, with more than 80% of the area covered in dense forest. The climate of the park is temperate and humid, with mild summers and cold winters. The area that is now Great Smoky Mountains National Park has a rich history dating back thousands of years. The original inhabitants of the region were the Cherokee Indians, who lived in the area until the early 1800s.

In 1934, the US Congress established the park as a protected area to preserve its unique beauty and wildlife. In 1940, it became a national park, and today it is one of the most visited parks in the US. The park is home to a diverse array of wildlife, including over 130 species of birds, 66 species of mammals, 50 species of reptiles and amphibians, and countless species of plants. Visitors can spot deer, elk, black bears, wild turkeys, salamanders and much more while exploring the park's trails.

There are numerous recreational activities available in the park, from hiking and camping to fishing and birdwatching. Hikers can explore more than 800 miles of trails that range from easy to difficult and lead to stunning views of the area's majestic mountains. There are also plenty of camping sites available for visitors who want to spend the night in the park. Fishing is allowed in certain areas of the park with a valid fishing license, providing an opportunity to catch trout and other native fish.

Visitors can access the park from several different points along its borders. There are several lodges, campgrounds and cabins available for those looking for accommodation while visiting the park. There are also a few restaurants located within its boundaries that serve up traditional southern cuisine. Throughout the year, visitors can take part in special events and educational programs hosted by the National Park Service.

These include ranger-led hikes, bird-watching walks and campfire talks about the area's history and culture. There is an entrance fee for Great Smoky Mountains National Park that varies depending on how long you plan to stay in the park and if you are visiting with a vehicle or as a pedestrian. These fees help cover the cost of maintaining the park and keeping it safe for visitors. When visiting Great Smoky Mountains National Park, it’s important to take safety into account.

Be sure to bring plenty of water and snacks on your hike to stay hydrated and energized. Additionally, be aware of your surroundings and keep an eye out for any wild animals that may be present. With its stunning landscapes, diverse wildlife, range of recreational activities and rich history, Great Smoky Mountains National Park is an incredible destination for outdoor enthusiasts looking for an escape from their everyday lives. While some may disagree due to its entrance fees, considering all that it has to offer it’s definitely worth a visit.

Fees and Safety Tips

FeesThe Great Smoky Mountains National Park charges a fee to enter the park.

The entrance fee is $14 per vehicle, or $7 per person if entering on foot. The fee is good for seven days and covers all passengers in the vehicle. Camping fees range from $17 to $23 per night.

Safety Tips

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a safe place to explore, but visitors should take certain precautions to stay safe. It’s important to know your limits when hiking and to be prepared for changing weather conditions.

Bring plenty of water and snacks, wear sunscreen, and dress in layers. Stay on designated trails, be aware of your surroundings, and never venture off alone. Additionally, it’s important to never feed or approach wildlife and to keep a safe distance from animals at all times.

Geography and Climate

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park spans the North Carolina-Tennessee border, covering a total of 522,427 acres of protected land. The park is made up of a diverse range of terrain, from high, mist-covered mountains to lush valleys and old-growth forests.

The highest peak in the park is Clingmans Dome, which rises to 6,643 feet, providing spectacular views across the Appalachian Mountains. The park’s location in the southeastern United States means it has a mild climate with abundant rainfall throughout the year. Average temperatures in the summer range from the mid-70s to mid-80s during the day and can drop to the low 60s at night. In winter, temperatures are typically in the 40s during the day and can dip into the 20s at night. Snowfall is common in the higher elevations of the park.

Recreational Activities

Great Smoky Mountains National Park offers a range of recreational activities for visitors to enjoy.

From hiking to camping to fishing, there’s something for everyone.


The park’s 800+ miles of trails provide plenty of opportunities for hikers of all skill levels. Beginners can explore the easy and moderate trails such as the Little River Trail and Oconaluftee River Trail, while experienced hikers can tackle more challenging routes such as the Appalachian Trail and the Porters Creek Trail.


The park has several campgrounds where visitors can pitch a tent or park their RV.

Campers can choose from backcountry campsites, group sites, and developed campgrounds such as Cades Cove Campground and Smokemont Campground.


Fishing is a popular activity in the park with many opportunities for trout, bass, and other species. Anglers can fish from the banks of streams and rivers or rent a boat and try their luck on one of the park’s several lakes.

History of Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Great Smoky Mountains National Park is one of America's most beloved and visited national parks.

It was first established in 1934 and became a national park in 1940. The park is situated in the Appalachian Mountains, spanning across five states - Tennessee, North Carolina, Georgia, Virginia, and Kentucky. The park was created to preserve the diverse landscape of mountains, forests, streams, and wildlife that are found within the region. The park was the first ever federally funded land acquisition for national park purposes, and it was established to protect the Smoky Mountains from logging and other developments that threatened to destroy the unique ecology of the region. The park has been home to many Native American tribes for centuries, including the Cherokee, Creek, Choctaw, and Chickasaw.

The park has also been an important area for early settlers who moved into the Appalachian Mountains. Today, the park offers visitors a wide range of activities, such as hiking, camping, fishing, horseback riding, and more. It is also a popular destination for photographers, scientists, and nature lovers alike. With more than 800 miles of trails and over 200 species of animals, Great Smoky Mountains National Park is truly a place of natural beauty.

Special Events and Programs

There is always something special happening at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Every season, the park hosts a variety of events and programs, many of which are free and open to the public. From ranger-guided hikes and campfire programs to outdoor concerts and special holiday celebrations, there are plenty of opportunities to experience the park in a unique way. Popular events include the annual Wildflower Pilgrimage, held in April, which features ranger-led hikes and demonstrations to explore the park’s diverse wildflower population. The park also hosts several educational programs throughout the year, such as bird-watching walks and night sky programs, which provide an opportunity to observe nocturnal wildlife and learn about the stars. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park also offers a variety of special family-friendly activities.

From guided horseback rides and fishing trips to Junior Ranger programs and outdoor movie screenings, there are plenty of fun ways to explore the park with your family.

Wildflower Pilgrimage

, Educational Programs, Family Friendly Activities


Great Smoky Mountains National Park is home to an incredible variety of wildlife, with more than 65 species of mammals, over 200 varieties of birds, 67 native fish species, and more than 80 types of reptiles and amphibians. The park is also known for its diverse plant life, with more than 1,660 species of flowering plants. The park's forests are home to animals such as black bears, white-tailed deer, raccoons, and wild boar.

It's also the perfect habitat for a range of bird species, including wild turkeys, ruffed grouse, and various species of hawks and owls. In the streams and rivers, you'll find fish such as brook trout and smallmouth bass. Reptiles and amphibians like Eastern box turtles, red-spotted newts, and American toads can also be found in the park. In addition to these native species, the park is also home to some invasive species that threaten the park's natural habitats. These include feral hogs, snakes like copperheads and timber rattlesnakes, and non-native plant species like Japanese stiltgrass and garlic mustard. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is an incredible place for wildlife-lovers to explore.

With its diverse array of native and non-native species, visitors can see a wide variety of animals and plants in their natural habitats.

Visiting the Park

Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a popular destination for travelers, and there are several ways to access the park. Visitors can get to the park by car, train, bus, or airplane. The park also offers a variety of accommodations, including camping, lodging, and backcountry camping. The best way to get to the park is by car.

The park is located in the southeastern United States and is accessible from several major cities. From Atlanta, it’s about a four-hour drive. From Charlotte, North Carolina, it’s about a three-hour drive. For those who prefer to travel by train or bus, there are several options.

Amtrak offers trains that go through the park and connect with other cities in the region. There are also several bus lines that offer routes into the park from nearby cities. For those who prefer to fly, there are several airports near the park. The closest airport is McGhee Tyson Airport in Knoxville, Tennessee, which is about an hour away from the park.

Once visitors have reached the park, they have a variety of accommodations available to them. Those looking for a more rustic experience can stay in one of the park’s campgrounds, which offer tent and RV camping spots. Lodging is also available in the form of cabins and lodges that are located throughout the park. For those who want an even more rugged experience, there is also backcountry camping available.

No matter how visitors decide to access Great Smoky Mountains National Park or what type of accommodations they choose, they will be sure to find plenty of activities to keep them busy and have an enjoyable experience. Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a breathtaking destination that offers something for everyone. From its rich history to its abundant wildlife and range of recreational activities, it's a must-see destination for outdoor enthusiasts. With its stunning natural beauty and 800 miles of trails, it's no wonder why it's the most visited national park in the country. Whether you're looking to take in the sweeping views, explore the wildlife or take part in special events and programs, there's something for everyone in this incredible national park.

Visitors should make sure to check the fees and safety tips before embarking on their adventure.