cades cove loop road in the fall
October 6, 2022

The Smoky Mountains bring millions of people to East Tennessee every year, and there are several activities people can enjoy when they visit! From exploring the trails to finding a great spot to fish, you’ll find something fun to do while you’re in the national park! Check out these top 5 popular things to do in the Great Smoky Mountains:

1. Go on a Hike

One activity you can’t miss out on when you visit the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is hiking! Even if you’ve never been hiking before, there’s a trail you can explore! They range from easy to moderate to difficult, and you can choose from a variety of natural features to see along the way. Find beautiful waterfalls, breathtaking mountain views, or just enjoy a wooded view along your hike! Plus, you can choose a hike based on what area of the park you’re visiting! You’ll love the variety and beauty you can enjoy when you go hiking in the Smokies!

2. Take a Drive

Another popular thing to do in the Great Smoky Mountains is go on a drive. Scenic drives are popular with older visitors who can’t easily get out on the trails or people who don’t want to hike. There are several different drives you can choose from, but the most popular scenic drive is Cades Cove. This 11-mile loop road is set in a valley surrounded by mountains, so you’ll have incredible views the entire drive. It’s also a popular place to see wildlife. Other scenic drives you will want to experience include Foothills Parkway, Newfound Gap, and Roaring Fork Motor Trail.

3. Have a Picnic

picnic table

When the weather is nice outside, you should pack a picnic and head into the national park! There are several designated picnic areas in the park where you can sit at a picnic table or cook a meal on the charcoal grills! Some of the most popular picnic areas include Cades Cove, Metcalf Bottoms, and Look Rock. You don’t have to only visit picnic areas though. You can always pack a meal and take it with you on your hike to enjoy when you reach your destination!

4. Explore Visitor Centers

Something else that you may not immediately think of when you visit the Smokies is exploring visitor centers! Many visitors love stopping by these centers to learn more about the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, grab a brochure, or speak to a park ranger! The Sugarlands Visitor Center is one of the most popular places to visit because it has a museum where you can learn more about the park, wildlife, and so much more. There’s also a 20-minute film about the park, as well as a gift shop. Other popular visitor centers are located in Cades Cove and at Clingmans Dome.

5. Go Fishing

fly fishing smoky mountains

A popular thing to do in the Great Smoky Mountains many people enjoy is fishing! To fish in the park, you just need a valid Tennessee fishing license, and there are several different kinds to choose from. You’ll find trout, smallmouth bass, and other types of fish in the creeks and rivers. Visitors are able to fish in any body of water starting 30 minutes before sunrise and ending at 30 minutes after sunset. Fishermen will have a blast fishing in the national park!

Now you know about some of the most popular things to do in the Great Smoky Mountains. Since you have an idea of what you want to do, you just need to decide where to go! Check out the most popular places to visit in the Great Smoky Mountains!