Who's that calling? Why, it's the Smoky Mountains! The most famous mountain range in the East, the Smoky Mountains are a top vacation destination. In fact, Great Smoky Mountains National Park attracts more than 12 million visitors each year, more than any other national park.
You might think that things would get crowded with that many visitors. While the park can be busy, especially on weekends, it can also be explored year-round. This gives you ample opportunity to see the park when it's quieter.
In this post, we're giving you information about visiting the park during any season. From travel tips to activity suggestions, the essentials are covered. With this knowledge in hand, you can plan your trip.
Don't forget about our Smoky Mountain resorts. In Sevierville, Tennessee, you'll find Sun Outdoors Pigeon Forge, complete with a lazy river and many other amenities. And in Sylva, North Carolina, is Sun Retreats Nantahala. This rustic retreat is a great spot to connect with nature.
Have fun and enjoy your Smoky Mountain getaway!
Spring in the Smoky Mountains is a magical time. Between the mild temperatures and spring showers, the slopes become a bonanza of wildflowers. At the lower elevations, you'll spot dogwood and magnolia trees, as well as trillium and geraniums. In late spring, flame azalea lights up the high elevations in red and yellow.
There are a couple things to do in spring. One is to hike the Alum Cave Trail to Mount LeConte. Famous for its beauty, the Alum Cave Trail is lined with wildflowers of all varieties.
Another option is to head to one of the "balds," or mountain meadows. When Clingmans Dome Road is open, Andrews Bald is an easy hike. On the North Carolina side, try visiting Max Patch. The open mountaintop features some of the best views in the park.
When summer rolls around, the Smoky Mountains turn into a sea of green. Forest life is at its peak and the entire landscape seems to breathe. It's an incredible time to visit.
For starters, drive along Cades Cove Loop Road. As you sit in the air conditioning, you can gaze out at the mountains and historic structures. Cades Cove is also a great place to safely spot black bears.
If you're looking to cool down in the mountains, try the hike to Grotto Falls. This short trail is just three miles roundtrip. The waterfall isn't too high, but what's neat is that you can walk behind it!
If you're staying at Sun Outdoors Pigeon Forge, head to Dollywood's Splash Country. Nestled in the foothills, Splash Country is an excellent way to beat the heat with water rides.
Fall is the most colorful season in the Smokies. With the mild temperatures and varying elevations, fall colors last a long time. They begin at the mountain tops and work their way down in a cascade of orange and yellow.
You can expect to see early leaves changing at the high elevations in late September. But peak fall color in the Smoky Mountains is usually in mid-October or early November.
There are many great ways to explore the mountains in autumn. In North Carolina, the Blue Ridge Parkway offers an experience unlike any other. If you're in Tennessee, check out the Foothills Parkway. With the "Missing Link" completed, the Foothills Parkway has nearly 23 miles of gorgeous views. Plus, there are many pull-offs to stop and take photos.
Winter is an interesting time in the Smoky Mountains. While the high elevations see snow, the valleys remain mild. During winter, Sun Retreats Nantahala is seasonally closed, while Sun Outdoors Pigeon Forge remains open year-round.
If you visit Tennessee, there are great ways to see the Smokies in winter. The Foothills Parkway offers a good option for a scenic drive. But if you're up for a hike, head to Newfound Gap. From this high trailhead, you can visit both Charlie's Bunion and The Jump Off. From both spots, the clear winter air offers views for many miles. Just watch for ice and snow!
Also around the area are skiing and snowboarding opportunities. While they won't match the Rocky Mountains, they are quite fun. Check out Ober Gatlinburg in Tennessee, and Cataloochee Ski Area in North Carolina.
As you can see, the Smoky Mountains are full of fun, no matter the season. Be sure to stay at one of our two Smoky Mountain resorts, Sun Outdoors Pigeon Forge in Tennessee and Sun Retreats Nantahala.
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