National Park Sign
January 22, 2022

When you visit Great Smoky Mountains National Park for the first time, you want to be sure you have the most accurate information available! If you’ve ever heard certain things about the park and were wondering if they were indeed true, we are here to dispel any of the popular wise tales! Here are the top 4 myths about Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the truth behind them:

Myth 1: The Park Charges An Entrance Fee

If you have visited other national parks throughout the country, you’re probably used to paying an entrance fee at the gate. Many folks also enjoy taking advantage of the popular America the Beautiful Pass, a pass that allows entry into all of the national parks for a full year from the month of purchase. Great Smoky Mountains National Park is unique in that it is one of just a few national parks where NO entrance fee is charged!

Myth 2: Bears Hibernate During the Winter Months

Black Bear

Most visitors to the national park hope to catch a glimpse of the American Black Bear. After all, these impressive animals are the iconic symbol of the Smokies! If you ever watched Yogi Bear cartoons growing up, you may remember Yogi and his pal Boo-Boo retiring to their cave to hibernate during the winter months. An interesting fact about the black bears in the Smokies is that they never truly hibernate, but enter long periods of sleep. This means that you may still spot a bear during the winter months, especially during brief warming trends!

Myth 3: All the Trails are Crowded with Hikers

While it is true that the national park is the most visited in the country, this doesn’t mean that you’ll be rubbing shoulder to shoulder with fellow hikers on the trails! There are more than 800 miles of trails throughout the park, ranging from easy kid-friendly hikes to challenging hikes that lead to waterfalls, old-growth forests and stunning mountain views! You may have company on the most popular trails during peak times of the year, but you can always find a hike to escape from the crowds!

Myth 4: Hiking is the Only Thing to Do in the Park

Newfound Gap Road

If you are not into hiking, don’t let that keep you from enjoying the spectacular wonders of the Smokies! It’s not even necessary to get out of the car to appreciate the park as there are several wonderful scenic drives in the Smokies, including the Cades Cove Loop Road, Foothills Parkway, Newfound Gap and Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail! If you do decide to stop, pull over at one of the designated picnic areas for a tasty lunch among the beauty of the forest! There are lots of other things to do in the park too, including camping, horseback riding, fishing and more!

Now that you know the truth behind the myths of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, you are ready to begin your exploration of the park! We suggest beginning your adventure at one of the park’s excellent visitor facilities, so be sure to check out our handy guide to the centers as you prepare for your next adventure!