Mingus Mill in NC
February 15, 2022

The Smoky Mountains span a big part of both Tennessee and North Carolina. This means that there are plenty of things to see and explore throughout the mountains! You can find all kinds of unique sights in the national park, from historic cabins and churches to beautiful water features. Here are four interesting places to visit in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park:

Rainbow Falls Cave

Rainbow Falls Cave is one of the lesser-known places in the Smokies that is off the beaten path. Of note, this is a place you’ll only want to try to find if you are an experienced hiker! You can find the Rainbow Falls Cave by traveling along the Schoolhouse Gap Trail. About 1 mile into the trail, you’ll have to go toward the Whiteoak Sinks area, turning onto an unnamed footpath right after the Turkeypen Ridge Trail sign. Follow this trail, where you will make a left and eventually a right to find the cave!

Midnight Hole

Midnight Hole

Midnight Hole is a popular natural pool in the Smoky Mountains. If you are venturing to Mouse Creek Falls on Big Creek Trail, you’ll actually pass it around a mile into your way there. Once you see Midnight Hole, you’ll soon find out why it is one of the best places to visit in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It features crystal green water and a 6 foot waterfall, where people of all ages can enjoy splashing and swimming in the water. If you’re a little adventurous, try jumping into Midnight Hole off of some of the rocks that border it!

Mingus Mill

If you’re into history, you’ll want to find Mingus Mill, which was built in 1886. This mill can be found less than a mile from the Oconaluftee Visitor Center and the Mountain Farm Museum. It is open on a daily basis from mid-March to mid-November and the weekend of Thanksgiving, 9 am to 5 pm. One interesting thing about this structure is that it does not use a water wheel to operate. Instead, it works with the help of a water-powered turbine. You can also watch the process of corn grinding and buy cornmeal at the mill!

Elkmont Vacation Cottages

Elkmont Homes

Going along Little River Trail, you’ll be able to find the Elkmont Ghost Town vacation cottages. Elkmont was originally a vacation spot in the early twentieth century but became abandoned by the end of the century. Once you start hiking the trail, it won’t take long for you to see the cottages. You are allowed to view them from a distance, but you cannot explore these buildings. If you try to, you could be penalized for trespassing. One place you can explore, however, is the area around another Smoky Mountain gem: the troll bridge! Just keep an eye out for a gravel path on Little River Trail that will lead you there.

Ready to find some other cool places to visit in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park? Try looking for these hidden gems! We can’t wait to see you in the most visited national park in America!