The stunning and serene beauty of the Great Smoky Mountains draws in many tourists and locals alike. Situated in Eastern Tennessee and extending to the North Carolina border, the Smokies offer visitors the chance to experience its rich greenery and animal life, intriguing history, and many fun activities.
Named for the smoky haze that often covers its peaks and valleys, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, spread around 520,000-acre mountain wilderness, is the United States’ most visited park, attracting a staggering about 10 million visitors each year.
For adventure enthusiasts, the Smokies offer a plethora of exciting outdoor activities. So, without further ado, let’s find out what you can do on vacation around the Great Smoky Mountains.
Where to Stay?
Before we explore the different activities that can make the trip memorable, you must plan your stay around the Smokies. Because it is one of the most visited tourist spots, it is wise to book your accommodation in advance to avoid last-minute booking hassle.
While hotels may seem like the obvious choice for your accommodation, Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, the two mountain resorts surrounding the Smokies, have more superior options. Instead of staying in a hotel room, you can opt to stay in the Smoky Mountain condos and enjoy all the luxuries at an affordable rate. Some of the condos are close to the major attractions, especially the Great Smoky Mountains, making it convenient for you to travel to and from.
Once you have sorted your accommodation, you can plan your activities during your stay. Here detailed are some of the activities and places thrill-seekers can add to their to-do-list:
Things to Do Around the Great Smoky Mountains
If you want an intimate, firsthand experience of viewing nature, consider biking. Numerous biking trails near Pigeon Forge can allow you to feel the wind rushing through your hair as you explore nature. If you bike on the Riverwalk Greenway, you can get a unique view of the Little Pigeon River. The trails also lead to famous tourist spots if you want to visit the city’s attractions.
What is the best way of beating the infamous Tennessee heat? Tubing, of course! You can have a thrilling family outing by gliding along the Little River in the Pigeon Forge near the Smoky Mountains. The river boasts crystal-clear water that can refresh you after a long day of exploring. If you want to go tubing with kids, you can head to the lower side of the river, as it’s calm and offers a gentle float. The upper area has exciting rapids perfect for thrill seekers.
3. Zip Lining
If you aren’t afraid of heights, you cannot leave without exploring exciting zip lines in the Smokies. The Great Smoky Mountains feature some of the longest zip lines. It can be a wild experience rushing through the air while being 450 feet off the ground. There is no better way to get a unique bird’s eye view of the lush mountains surrounding the region. You can even glimpse at several different birds. Several safety zip-lining limitations ensure the riders are protected and feel secure.
4. Rowdy Bear’s Smoky Mountain Snowpark
The Snowpark, located in Pigeon Forge, is one of the perfect places for adventure seekers. You can experience extreme adventure and thrill at the park’s 500-foot tubing hill, ski lift shootout coaster, and outdoor axe throwing. Whether you are planning your vacation to the Smokies in winter or summer, you can still enjoy the thrilling rides as the park remains open throughout the year. If you visit in the summer, you can still enjoy tubing at their outdoor summer tubing hill.
The ski lift shootout coaster can be a great way to get your heart pumping. It involves a suspended coaster with scary dips and turns. You must attempt to shoot targets as you swing through the air. Once you’re done, you can even try to throw axes or grab a sweet treat at the park’s café.
5. Hiking to Clingmans Dome
If you want an unparalleled view of the Great Smoky Mountains, you cannot resist visiting Clingmans Dome. It stands 54 feet tall and is an ideal spot for adventure seekers and tourists looking for a relaxing getaway. You can hike to this highest point and enjoy unobstructed views of the Smokies. There is a proper hiking trail up to an observation tower.
6. Dollywood Theme Park
Dollywood Theme Park in Pigeon Forge is one of the popular spots for thrill-seekers and tourists with kids. You can have a fun-filled day zooming through the air on scary rollercoasters and watching entertaining live shows. The park has eleven different themed areas with varying activities. You can also immerse yourself in local music, art, and restaurants that serve mouth-watering dishes.
7. Public Parks
If you want to escape the hubbub for peace and calm, you can head to public parks in Pigeon Forge. Some popular parks you can visit in the mountain city include Patriot Park and Wear Farm City Park. The park features a stunning setting to have a nice picnic with the family. The park also features football and baseball fields. Children can play around in the park; also, swings and slides keep them occupied.
8. Exploring the Island, Pigeon Forge
The Island is well-known for different activities that can keep visitors engaged. Numerous shops, eateries, and rides draw in thousands of tourists. However, there is one activity you cannot miss out on, i.e., The Great Smoky Mountain Wheel. The Ferris wheel allows people to soak in amazing views year-round. Moreover, the gondolas set up the stage for magnificent views of the mountains. It gets even better at night due to the numerous lights that come to life after the sun goes down.
If you are an adventure seeker planning a trip to the Great Smoky Mountains, you can add the above-discussed activities to your to-do list. The cities around the mountains offer thrilling activities and feature an array of tourist attractions that can make your trip memorable. Moreover, you can explore the nature of the Smokies firsthand by taking a tour on a bike or hiking.