Things To Know About The Great Smoky Mountains National Park (Gatlinburg):
- The Great Smoky Mountains National Park spans across parts of Tennessee and North Carolina, and there are a total of three entry points into the park. The park’s main headquarters, and a popular entry site into the park, is through Gatlinburg, Tennessee.
- My biggest takeaway from visiting the Great Smoky Mountains this summer is that I would like to revisit in the fall. The park is made up of dense forests and I can only imagine how beautiful it must look when the leaves are changing colors.
- Most visitors seem to head out for the park right before noon, so if you want to beat the crowds for good parking spots and a head start on hiking trails, then aim for leaving sometime in the morning.
- One of the most highly suggested areas to visit is Cades Cove. Cades Cove is known for its historical significance (as in old churches, graves, and log houses are scattered among the grounds), but after driving past beautiful mountain views and lush forests I was not impressed with just a slow drive around a field. If you do plan on traveling to Cades Cove I would suggest going with a full tank of gas as it is thirty miles from the park entrance, plus the one lane loop is eleven miles long at a snail’s pace(even though the signs specifically tell drivers not to idle).
- While I spent most of my time at Cades Cove and did not get a chance to visit Laurel Falls, the amount of cars parked outside the trail that leads to the falls confirms its popularity. The start of the hike to the falls is only about six miles from the park’s Gatlinburg entrance.
- A drive through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park can be such a peaceful drive(most likely in the morning before the crowds) as you are surrounded by thick forests, but I found it harder to hike and explore by foot. I would recommend mapping out certain points you can hike and walk through, before driving into the park if you would rather spend more time outside of your car.
- In 2016 Gatlinburg was impacted by a fire, and the effects can still be seen throughout the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. A few areas are still closed off due to damage, and many burnt trees are scattered among the forest, but the town and park has recovered well.