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9 Best Things to Do in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Bindu swetha Dec 2, 2019
From wildlife sighting to beautiful waterfalls and from strenuous hikes to historic structures, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a haven for outdoor lovers! Don't miss the sunrise and sunset while at the park, that's when you can enjoy the 'smokiness' of the mountains.

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Visit the Sugarlands Visitor Center

This is theĀ first spot to visit while at the park. You can get your trail maps, get to know the history of the park (20-minute film about the park is played) and book tickets to the ranger-led programs at the park!

Drive Along the Newfound Gap Road

At an elevation of 5046 ft, the Newfound Gap is the lowest drivable spot in the National Park. While driving to the spot keep your eyes open to spot a few tailed deer, foxes, bobcats and turkeys! Most of the popular trails including the Appalachian Trail can be accessed from here.

Hike to the Clingmans Dome

Get to the Newfound Gap, then walk about half a mile to reach this 6643 ft high summit (highest point in the park). Once at the spot, walk to the observatory-like tower to get an amazing view of the park and Tennessee. Take a jacket along and be careful while hiking because the trail is a steep one!

Drive to the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail

The 6-mile long trail offers spectacular views of the mountains and also takes you to the two famous waterfalls of the park - Rainbow falls and Grotto falls. A great place to spot bears, while at the trail you can see a few historic cabins and remains of the once-existing village!

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Wildlife Watching

With an estimated 1500 black bears inhabiting the park and bobcats, turkeys, foxes, groundhogs, tailed deer being frequently spotted, the park is a must-visit place for wildlife lovers. Head to the Oconaluftee Visitor Center to spot a herd of elk!

Explore the Cades Cove

Once home to the Appalachian settlers, the Cades Cove is an isolated place inside the park where you can see old-styled cabins, 3 churches and a gist mill! Famous hikes such as Abrams Falls, Thunderhead Mountain and Rocky Top start from here. Wildlife spotting is also a norm here.

Click Pictures at the Mingus Mill

The turbine-operated Mingus Mill which opened in 1886 still grinds wheat and corn! An employee of the park is present at the spot to explain the working of the mill. You can buy ground cornmeal at the site (not milled there but milled the old way).

Enjoy the View from Mt. Cammerer Tower

Take the Low Gap Trail uphill for about 2.5 miles and then continue the Appalachian Trail for another few miles to reach to the Mt. Cammerer tower. This restored stone fire tower provides a 360-degree view of the mountains! The entire trail is about 10.2 miles round trip, so prepare accordingly!

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Watch Fireflies at Night

On the Tennessee side of the park, you can witness the Synchronous Fireflies. All the flies rise from the grass and start blinking at the same time, in a synchronized manner. Visit the park in May or early June to witness this at the park's annual show.