National Park sign
June 21, 2023

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts of all ages! If you’re planning a family vacation to this breathtaking destination, you’ll be delighted to discover the wide variety of kid-friendly activities available. From hiking through scenic trails to becoming a Junior Ranger, the park offers a selection of unforgettable experiences for families with children. Here are some of the best things to do in the Smoky Mountains National Park with kids:

1. Go Hiking

Gatlinburg Trail in the Smoky Mountains

Discover the beauty of the Smoky Mountains when you embark on a hiking adventure! With numerous trails suitable for all ages, the park provides lots of opportunities for family-friendly hikes. Families will love exploring trails like the Sugarlands Valley Nature Trail, the Gatlinburg Trail, and the Elkmont Nature Trail! These are just a few of the trails suitable for families with children – with over 850 miles of trails in the park, there are so many options. So lace up your hiking boots, grab a map, and create lasting memories on these incredible hikes!

2. Help Them Become a Junior Ranger

Enjoy a day of adventure when you encourage your kids to become Junior Rangers! For a small fee, kids between ages 5 and 12 can pick up a Junior Ranger booklet at any of the Smoky Mountains National Park Visitor Centers or campgrounds. Help them complete the activities in the booklet to enhance their understanding of the park’s natural wonders, then return to a Visitor Center and pick up their well-deserved Junior Ranger badge! They can also participate in ranger-led programs where they can learn about the park directly from an official ranger. Kids will love this opportunity to connect with the park and earn a Junior Ranger badge, making this one of the best things to do in the Smoky Mountains National Park with kids.

3. See Wildlife

black bear in Cades Cove

With over 400 different species of wildlife calling the Smoky Mountains National Park home, there are lots of opportunities to see incredible creatures! Keep your eyes peeled for black bears, white-tailed deer, chipmunks, and more. One of the best spots to spot wildlife is at Cades Cove in the wide-open valley – just make sure to observe the animals from a safe distance and respect their natural habitat!

4. Go Fishing

If you have fishing enthusiasts in the family, the Smoky Mountains National Park has you covered! With about 2,900 miles of streams for year-round fishing and one of the last wild trout habitats in the United States, the park offers exceptional fishing opportunities. Grab your family and your fishing gear, and head out to the park for a day of fun! Just remember that anyone older than 13 years old will need to have a valid Tennessee or North Carolina fishing license to fish in the park.

5. Try Horseback Riding

horses grazing in Cades Cove

Saddle up and see the gorgeous Smoky Mountains from a new perspective – horseback! With several stables within the park that offer guided rides for both beginners and more experienced riders, there’s a horseback riding option for everyone. From mid-March to late November, you’ll be able to explore the park’s scenic trails on horseback while breathing in the refreshing mountain air. This is a fantastic opportunity for the whole family to create lasting memories while discovering the park in a new way!

When you visit the Smoky Mountains National Park with your kids, you’ll have lots of exciting activities available to you! From hiking and horseback riding to wildlife viewing and fishing, there’s something for everyone in this natural paradise! And if you’re looking for even more activities, check out more things to do in the Smoky Mountains National Park!