The Great Smoky Mountains National Park
For the nature enthusiast, family vacationer, or the solo adventurer, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a captivating destination that offers a wealth of experiences. Its enchanting beauty, rich history, and diverse wildlife make it an unmissable part of any trip to the southeastern U.S, and it's a large reason many of our Gatlinburg vacation rental guests choose to stay with us.
Nestled along the North Carolina and Tennessee border, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the most visited national park in the United States. Sprawling over 800 square miles, it’s home to some of the country's most stunning landscapes, boasting lush forests, glistening rivers, picturesque waterfalls, and panoramic mountain views that stretch as far as the eye can see.
The park's natural beauty unfolds through its extensive network of trails. With over 800 miles to explore, hikers of all skill levels will be happy. Easy family-friendly trails like the Laurel Falls trail offer the chance to witness the park's mesmerizing waterfalls, while challenging paths like the Mount LeConte via Alum Cave trail reward daring adventurers with jaw-dropping mountain views.
See some of our recommended hikes at the bottom of this page, but the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is more than just its hikes. For those interested in history, the park is a treasure trove. Historic structures like the Cades Cove cabins and the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail transport you back in time, providing a glimpse into the life of early Appalachian settlers.
Wildlife enthusiasts are also in for a treat. The park is a sanctuary for an impressive variety of animals. It’s not uncommon to spot white-tailed deer, wild turkeys, and the famous black bears that the park is known for. Remember to keep a safe distance and never feed wild animals!
And let’s not forget about the park's show-stopping phenomenon: synchronous fireflies. Every year, for about two weeks in late May to mid-June, a unique species of firefly performs a magical synchronized light show, a natural spectacle that attracts visitors from all over the world.
After a long day of exploring, unwind by setting up camp under the starlit sky. The park has several campgrounds and picnic areas, where you can soak in the serene atmosphere, roast marshmallows over a campfire, or share stories with fellow campers.
Whether you're chasing adrenaline-pumping adventures, seeking tranquility in nature, or eager to learn about the region's history, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park caters to all.
SUGGESTED SMOKY MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK HIKES
Mt. LeConte is considered the 'Tallest Mountain East of the Mississippi River,' rising up from the valley (Gatlinburg) and towering over us at a height of 6,593 feet! Exploring the Smokies by car gives you a great advantage because you can see more in a short amount of time. But don't be timid; when you get to your destination, get out, take a good look around, and remember that you are looking at our history, culture and remembrances of things and a time long past.
Hen Wallow Falls A 4.5-mile round-trip hike. Take the Gabes Mountain Trail that begins from the parking area at the entrance to Cosby Campground. Beyond the falls, Gabes Mountain Trail leads to old-growth forest.
Indian Creek Falls A 2-mile round-trip hike. Take the Deep Creek Trail that starts just past Deep Creek Campground.
Juney Whank Falls A .6 mile round-trip hike. The trail starts from the parking are just past Deep Creek Campground.
Rainbow Falls 5.5-mile round-trip hike. The trail starts from the Rainbow Falls parking area on Cherokee Orchard Road near Gatlinburg.
Ramsay Cascades An 8-mile round-trip hike. Take US Hwy 321 (East Parkway) 6 miles east of Gatlinburg, to the Greenbrier entrance to the park. Follow the signs to the Ramsay Cascades trailhead.
Cades Cove 11 miles of Nature and the rich history of Tennessee. Deer, Wild Turkey, and sometimes Bear find their way into your line of sight making this one of the most popular tours here. Historical log homes, hand hewn in the Smokies, by early pioneers offer fun & informative diversions along the way. It is also possible to walk, bike or stroll along this paved road.
Newfound Gap Road 26 miles of curling twists up through the mountains of Tennessee & North Carolina, reaching heights of 5,048 ft. Offering vistas, bluffs and roadside exhibits. An excellent way to start your vacation in the Smokies.
Little Greenbrier Park at Metcalf Bottoms Picnic Park at Metcalf Bottoms Picnic Area and walk across the bridge. Take the Metcalf Bottoms Trail .6 mile to the Little Greenbrier School. If you wish, you can continue 1 mile from the school to the Walker Sisters farmstead on the Little Brier Gap Trail. The Little Brier Gap Trail. This trail starts at the barricade uphill from the school.
Old Sugarlands Park at Sugarlands Visitor Center and ask directions to this trailhead. The first two miles of this trail offer a glimpse of the old Sugarlands community, which predated the national park. A 6.2-mile loop hike can be achieved by combining Old Sugarlands Trail and Two-mile Branch Trail.
Old Settlers Trail Follow the Road into the Greenbrier area and turn at the bridge toward Ramsay Cascades Trail. Old Settlers Trail starts on the left just after the second bridge. The first 1.5 miles of trail pass through remnants of the old Greenbrier community.
Kephart Prong The trailhead is located at the footbridge over the Oconaluftee River 7 miles north of Oconaluftee Visitor Center on the Newfound Gap Road. The first .25 mile of trail passes by the site of an old CCC camp and fish hatchery.
Cataloochee Valley The Woody House in Cataloochee Valley. Follow the Rough Fork Trail from the end of Cataloochee Road 1 mile to the Woody place and its 1800s home.