summer in the smokies
May 30, 2024

If you're taking a summer vacation to East Tennessee and want a way to enjoy the warm weather, plan a day to visit the Great Smoky Mountains National Park! It will be a great time for visitors of all ages. Start planning your visit by learning more about the fun activities here! Here is a list of 4 things to do in Great Smoky Mountains National Park this summer:

1. Take a Hike

Rainbow Falls Trail footbridge

One great way to enjoy the outdoors is by taking a hike. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is an excellent place to do so because there are more than 850 miles of trails at varying difficulties. An easy route is the Sugarlands Valley Nature Trail. It has a roundtrip distance of 0.5 miles and the flat paved terrain is easy to walk on. Along the way, be on the lookout for remnants of the Sugarlands Valley settlement, such as stone fences. A more challenging trail is the 13-mile hike to Mount LeConte via the Rainbow Falls Trail. The trek will be worth it when you see stunning views from the Smokies’ third-highest peak at the end.

2. Go Horseback Riding

You don’t have to worry about your legs getting tired when you explore the Smokies on the back of a four-legged friend! The national park has 2 horseback riding stables that are open from mid-March through late November. If you have never ridden a horse before, don't worry. The staff will provide all the gear and teach you the basics! You also don’t have to worry about getting lost because a tour guide will accompany you! Simply sit up tall to look at the scenery and listen closely to the tour guide as they tell you about it.

3. Go to Clingmans Dome

Clingmans Dome

At 6,643 feet, Clingmans Dome is the highest point in Great Smoky Mountains National Park and in Tennessee overall. Summer is a great time to visit because Clingmans Dome Road is open to cars. Once you get up to the observation tower, the views stretch for more than 100 miles on a clear day. When you come, keep in mind that the temperatures at the top of Clingmans Dome are 20 degrees cooler than those down below. With that being said, it is a good idea to bring along a light jacket!

4. Go Camping

If you want to enjoy the park a little bit longer, go camping and stay overnight at one of Great Smoky Mountains National Park’s great campsites. They can be either frontcountry or backcountry. Frontcountry campgrounds allow you to stay near your vehicle and have access to restrooms with cold running water and even food lockers. On the other hand, backcountry campgrounds are open during the warmer months and they require visitors to hike to the campsite! No matter which one you choose, it will be a fun and memorable time!

Now that you know activities to do when you come to Great Smoky Mountains National Park, you can start planning your visit! First, decide where you want to go! Explore our other list of the most popular places in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park!