sign at the Gatlinburg entrance to the Smoky Mountains
June 22, 2024

If you’re looking for a unique insight into Great Smoky Mountains National Park, don’t miss the chance to join one of the ranger-led activities that are offered from spring through fall! You’ll discover everything from guided hikes to historic mill demonstrations and talks about the wildlife in the park! The best part is that most of the activities are free, and you can just show up to join the fun! Here are the top 4 reasons to take advantage of the ranger activities in the Smoky Mountains:

1. Discover the Fascinating History, Geology & Wildlife of the Park

While you can enjoy the gorgeous scenery of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park on your own, a ranger-led activity offers a fascinating glimpse into the history of the park! As you join a hike to Clingmans Dome, Deep Creek Waterfall, and other popular destinations, you’ll learn about the geology and wildlife of these areas! Park Rangers are ambassadors for the Department of the Interior who have a passion for educating the public about historical buildings, plants, and animals, so feel free to ask plenty of questions during your program!

2. Convenient Activity Times

Sugarlands Visitor Center

Another one of the top reasons to take advantage of the ranger activities in the Smoky Mountains is because there are convenient activity times to fit into your schedule! If you want to see what is currently available, simply stop into one of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park Visitor Centers to see the current offerings! Reservations are not required for most programs, and the activity schedule will designate the meeting site, time, and duration of the program. You can also view the schedule for ranger programs online to make your plans!

3. Get Your Kids Interested in the Junior Ranger Program

If you have children joining you on your Smoky Mountain adventure, the ranger-led activities are the perfect opportunity to get your kids interested in the National Park Junior Ranger program! Junior Rangers are critical to the success of the National Park Service's mission to protect special places and stories. Kids can be officially sworn in as Junior Rangers at any park visitor center after completing at least 5 activities and 5 experiences in an activity guide with help from a team, including a parent or guardian. Learn why kids love becoming a National Park Junior Ranger!

4. Most Programs are Free

national park entrance

Most of the ranger activities in the Smoky Mountains are completely free, making it a great day out that is fun, educational, and affordable! There is also no entrance fee to Great Smoky Mountains National Park, but you will need to purchase a parking tag if you plan to park anywhere within the park boundaries for more than 15 minutes at a time. Here are 3 convenient ways to purchase your Great Smoky Mountains Parking Tag.

The ranger activities in the Smoky Mountains are just one of the many things that you can enjoy during your visit! While you may be familiar with the most popular hiking trails and scenic drives, you’ll also want to experience some of the lesser-known things to do in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park!