Tennessee is known for many things: great people, great food, music, and beautiful landscapes. If you’re not familiar with the state, however, there’s also hidden gem that might escape your list of things to do if you’re coming for a visit – the great Smoky Mountains.
When you think of mountains, you might think of the Rockies, but Tennessee has their own set of beautiful, mighty mountains deep within its territory. They may not be as high or majestic as their Western counterparts, but they offer a lot of beauty and activities for visitors and locals alike. And The Smoky Mountains are much older than the Rocky Mountains, too! Best of all, these mountains are in one amazing national park where you can spend as much time as you want!
If you’re planning on coming to this great state, read on to see what you can expect should you choose to visit the Smoky Mountains TN.
Let’s start with the most obvious: hiking. Hiking in Smoky Mountains isn’t like climbing a mountain. You can expect to find lush, gentle trails sprawling throughout the rolling terrain.
In fact, there are over 800 miles of trails that you can choose from. These range from a mild walk in the park to a more strenuous hiking experience. Regardless of what you choose, you can expect to be surrounded by the unique nature that Tennessee offers.
The state is known for a variety of foliage, much of which exists right in the mountain system. You will have plenty of shade and greenery to observe with the chance of seeing some local wildlife. Along with a variety of birds, insects, and small mammals, you may even come across a black bear or two.
Most importantly, hiking is a great way to get around to the various sites and spots in the mountains. Lost mountain vacation communities, historic cabins cabins, and other local attractions will await you after a couple hours or a whole day of hiking.
If you want something a little bit more strenuous or that will cover more ground, biking is also an option. Many local communities and businesses will offer affordable bike rentals that you can reserve for a half or full day adventure. Whether it’s mountain biking or a simple tour through the woods, you can find a variety of terrain to bike on.
One popular trip is on the Cades Cove Loop Road. This is an 11-mile long loop road that goes around a gorgeous wildlife meadow. Cades Cove one of the best places in the Smoky Mountians to see wildlife!
The National Park Service closes the road to traffic every Wednesday and Saturday morning until 10 A.M. during the summer months. This means you can hike or bike without concern for road traffic, allowing you to take in the unique sights and sounds of your surroundings. Be sure to take lots of water and perhaps even a picnic to have a true outing.
If mountain biking is more your speed, the neighboring Pisgah National Forest is for you! Pisgah National Forest is truly the mountain biking capital of the southeast. Check out some of the best trails Pisgah has to offer.
There’s plenty of water to be found in the Smoky Mountains if you’re interested in a more wet and wild adventure. Several streams and rivers course through the mountains, many of which are suitable for rafting activities. This is a great option for large groups or families spending a few days in the mountains.
Most rafting adventures will be led by an experienced guide employed through a touring company. The best way to set up an adventure is to research and find a suitable tour service located where you will be staying or spending most of your time in the area.
When you’re on the water, you can expect a variety of challenging rapids and serene straightaways. This will keep the experience new and unique as you switch from heart pounding moments of adventure to calm, breathtaking views that pass your raft.
The Smoky Mountains are home to a variety of people, many of whom have spent their entire lives in the region. This has led to many local attractions and spots popping up within the region. To get a true, authentic Tennessee experience, it’s good to visit at least one or two of these attractions.
One of the most well-known attractions is the Foxfire Mountain Adventure Park. This park offers a variety of climbing walls, ATV tours, and rope courses. There is even a well-known zip line system that will take you into the trees. The park is friendly for people of all ages and caters to thrill seekers and families alike.
Hillbilly Golf is another great option for the family, especially if you want some down time in between the more intense activities. This miniature golf course set along the gentle hills of the Smoky Mountains. They have two 18-hole courses, each with unusual obstacles. This Appalachian-themed attraction is a must see on your Smoky Mountain Vacation!
For those looking for some food and shopping, there is a great assortment of local businesses to visit. Sparky’s Glassblowing is a little shop located in Gatlinburg, Tennessee where you can watch skilled artisans create beautiful glasswork using fire, air, and decades of skill. The shop also has plenty of souvenirs and glasswork to take home with you.
Bush’s Baked Beans Tour
You’ve probably seen their famous commercials, involving a dog bent on “spilling the beans” to the world about the business’s secret recipe. Bush’s Beans is known all over the nation for a wide variety of canned beans. It just so happens that they started and are based right out of Chestnut Hill, Tennessee.
This is an excellent opportunity to tour their history and manufacturing process up close. They have a museum where you can learn all about how the company started and began to thrive over the years. There is also a tour of how each bean comes into existence and becomes canned food.
Enjoying Smoky Mountains TN
All of this is just the start of what Smoky Mountains has to offer visitors. The best way to get the most out of your experience is to plan everything out and try out a variety of activities. You won’t be sorry.
To get more information on what the area can offer, check out the all of our local vacation guides!