5 Best Adventures in the Smoky Mountains

Image by StockSnap / Pixabay 

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a paradise for hikers, campers, and other outdoor enthusiasts. The park is known for its plethora of wildflowers and rich wildlife. It also features tough climbs, picturesque drives, and waterfalls that are just breathtaking. In a nutshell, this massive stretch of stunning terrain is home to several iconic landmarks. If you are unsure of where to begin when planning your trip to the Smoky Mountains, fret not – we have got you covered: 

Take A Spin On The Great Smoky Mountain Wheel

The Great Smoky Mountain Wheel is 200 feet tall and provides spectacular views of the Great Smoky Mountains and Pigeon Forge’s dining, entertainment, and retail venues. Depending on the ride you select, each gondola is made entirely of glass and may accommodate anywhere from two to four passengers. 

Consider taking a nighttime ride on The Great Smoky Mountain Wheel for a really unforgettable experience. Every night, the ride’s structure is illuminated by a spectacular light show created by over a million LED lights. 

Tickets for the Great Smoky Mountain Wheel range in price from $9.00 for kids (3 to 11 years old) to $14.00 for adults (12+ years old). Seniors and members of the armed forces are eligible for discounts. The Great Smoky Mountain Wheel provides four complete rotations in a ride that lasts between eight and 10 minutes. The wheel is operational seven days a week between 10:00 am to 12:00 am.  

Try Your Hand At Rafting

The highlands are home to many rivers and streams, many of which are ideal for rafting. So, it is no wonder that rafting in the Smoky Mountains is one of the most sought-after adventures. Typically, rafting trips are conducted by a professional guide working for a tour operator. The most convenient way to arrange such an excursion is to choose a good tour company close to your hotel. 

When you are out on the river, you can anticipate encountering everything from exciting rapids to calm straightaways. As you float down the river, you will alternate between thrilling moments of action and serene, stunning vistas, keeping the experience fresh and exciting throughout. 

Wearing sunscreen is a must, regardless of whether the sky is clear or overcast. To avoid a painful sunburn that could potentially ruin the remainder of your trip, apply many coats of sunscreen before your rafting excursion. With the high probability of getting wet, it is prudent to carry water-resistant sunscreen. 

Climb The Clingmans Dome

Visitors who are up for the challenge of the half-mile ascent to the top of Clingmans Dome will be rewarded with breathtaking 360-degree views of the Smokies and beyond from the tower at the peak. On a clear day, you can see as far as nearly a hundred miles.  

In general, Clingmans Dome has cloudy, rainy, and chilly weather. Depending on the time of year, the dome might be 10-20 degrees Fahrenheit cooler than the surrounding lowlands. Along the seven miles that make up Clingmans Dome Road, visitors can stop at any of several scenic pullouts to take in the breathtaking panoramas of mountains, valleys, and peaks. Because of the high elevation and consistent precipitation, the spruce-fir forest atop Clingmans Dome is more akin to a coniferous rainforest than a typical mountain forest. Therefore, a memorable visit to this landmark heavily hinges on proper planning. 

Tap Into Biking 

You can also go biking if you want to get some exercise and cover more ground. You can schedule a bike rental for a half-day or full-day excursion from several nearby businesses and communities. You can go mountain biking or just take a leisurely ride through the woods; either way, you will find a range of trails to explore. 

Gatlinburg Trail is a great option for bicycle riding. This scenic 1.9-mile path links Gatlinburg with the Sugarlands Visitor Center, where you may enjoy free park films and displays of the area’s natural history. It is an easy trail that winds through the woods and follows the Little Pigeon River’s West Prong. Take in the breathtaking river scenery as you pedal along. 

With its 11-mile loop route, Cades Cove is another fantastic spot for bicycling in the Smoky Mountains. However, you should be here early if you want to avoid the crowd and enjoy this beautiful part of the park without interruption. Cades Cove also features the greatest concentration of National Park historical structures, including three churches, a grist mill, and several log homes. 

Drive To Some Waterfalls

Waterfalls in the Smoky Mountains are famous for their sheer power and splendor. Many are located inside the national park, while others extend outside its borders. If you want to see every beautiful waterfall, you should take a road trip. 

Over a hundred feet in height, the Ramsey Cascades is the highest waterfall in the national park. If you are up for an eight-mile round-trip hike, you will be rewarded with a beautiful view of the waterfall at the end of your journey. 

Unique among waterfalls, Grotto Falls stands at 25 feet in height and allows visitors to walk directly behind it. Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail hosts the hiking path, which is somewhat less than three miles round trip. Perfect in every way, this waterfall is hidden in a lush forest. 

Mingo Falls is also a top waterfall in the Smokies. Situated on Big Cove Road near Cherokee, it is only 5 miles from the park’s main entrance in the Great Smoky Mountains. The journey to the waterfall along the flowing stream is only a quarter of a mile long, but it involves climbing 161 steps. An observation bridge at the base of the falls can be reached from the top of the stairway via a short trail past magnificent granite outcroppings. The breathtaking waterfall plunges down a cliff for a total of 120 feet. 

Map thanks to Wanderlog, a road trip planner on iOS and Android


The Great Smoky Mountains provide a seemingly limitless stream of options for outdoor recreation because of the region’s approximately 500,000 acres of wilderness and 800 miles of hiking trails. If you are visiting the area for the first time, you might be overwhelmed with a slew of options out there. In that case, you can turn to this article and use it as your guide the next you plan a trip to Smokies. 


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