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Mountain View

Did you know that tomorrow is the big day we say Happy Anniversary to the Smoky Mountains? June 15th is the Smoky Mountains 90th birthday if you go by when Tennessee and North Carolina donated 300,000 acres of land to create the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It became official in 1926, when President Calvin Coolidge signed the bill that established the Great Smoky Mountain National Park.

Celebrate the park with a visit this summer! We have so many ideas for you!

The Smokies are world renowned for their diversity of plant and animal life, the beauty of their ancient mountains, hiking trails, the quality of remnants of Southern Appalachian mountain-culture and a few ghost stories too.

And among the mountains are the cities of Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge and Sevierville with attractions, adventures and food and drink for every palate.

Take a hike!

Say Happy Birthday to GSMNP with a hike.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park is centered around the ridgeline of the Great Smoky Mountains, which is a component of the Blue Ridge Mountains. This area is also part of the greater Appalachian Mountain Range.

The park contains more than 150 hiking trails among the more than 800 miles of trails – there are trails for beginners and overnight experts. The trails also feature a 70-mile segment of the Appalachian Trail.

With so many miles of trail available, it’s sometimes difficult deciding where to begin. Check out our Gatlinburg hiking guide and our 10 best hikes blog for some ideas. There also is a post on hiking trails for seniors.

What is the highest peak in the Smokies?

Clingmons Dome

At 6,643 feet, Clingmans Dome is the highest point in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It is the highest point in Tennessee, and the third highest mountain east of the Mississippi. Just imagine singing “Happy Birthday Smokies” from over 6000 feet in the air!

Here are the top 10 highest points:

The Top 10 Peaks (elevation in feet)
1. Clingmans Dome – 6,643
2. Mount Guyot – 6,621
3. Mount Le Conte (High Top) – 6,593
4. Mount Buckley – 6,580
5. Mount Love – 6,420
6. Mount Chapman – 6,417
7. Old Black – 6,370
8. Luftee Knob – 6,234
9. Mount Kephart – 6,217
10. Mount Collins – 6,118

Interesting Facts About The GSMNP

It’s the only national park in the United States that was created using private funds. Local landowners and John D. Rockefeller donated money, with Rockefeller donating about $5 million dollars, creating the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Cherokee can trace their history to the area more than a thousand years. After Europeans arrived in what is now the United States, war, disease, and conflicts arose. Eventually, the Cherokee were forced to sign over their land to the government, first the British, then the U.S.

A Woman was the first white settler in the park

Although William Ogle is credited for building the first home in the area, it was his wife, Martha Jane Huskey Ogle, who first moved there. William passed away before he could settle into the home with his wife and kids.

The Ogle cabin is located in downtown Gatlinburg, having been moved there in 2016 from its original home next to what is now the Arrowmont School for Arts and Crafts. The move was prompted by the construction of Anakeesta Village in Gatlinburg.

Speaking of Anakeesta, visit it! Here’s our blog post on why and what there is to do!

Wildflowers and Wild Animals

When you’re out on a hike, you’ll see wildflowers and probably wild animals too.

Spring Flowers

The park contains more than 4,000 plants and 140 species of trees. They include more than 1500 flowering plants – more than in any other North American national park – and they are some of the most beautiful in the world.

Check out our blog post on summertime flowers.

Bear Climbing

A symbol of the Smokies, the American Black Bear, is probably the park’s most famous resident. Great Smoky Mountains National Park provides the largest protected bear habitat in the eastern United States, according to the NPS. They live at all elevations in the park.

Bears are some of the most popular animals in the Smokies – though fyi, they actually aren’t all black; they can be blue-gray or blue-black, brown, cinnamon or ever sometimes, though rarely, white. Experts say approximately 1,500 of these animals live in and around the Smoky Mountains.

As pretty and sometimes cute as bears seem, don’t forget that they are wild animals and should be left alone. Don’t feed the bears and don’t try to get close to them or their cubs.

Check out the park’s blog on encountering bears.  Once you know how to stay safe, check out our post on the best places to see bears in the Smokies.

What else is out there?


The white-tailed deergroundhogchipmunk, and some squirrel and bat species are the most seen among the mammals.

More than 200 species of birds are regularly sighted in the park.

Blue Bird

More than 2,100 miles of streams in the park support more than 50 native fish. Among them are the brook trout, the Smoky Madtom, Yellowfin Madtom, Spotfin Chub, and Duskytail Darter.

man fishing

Learn about fishing in the Smokies here.

Other findings in the Smokies to explore are the more than 90 historic structures—houses, barns, outbuildings, churches, schools, and grist mills—have been preserved or rehabilitated in the park.

The Walker Sister’s Cabin

old cabin

The Walker Sister’s Cabin is the site closest to Cades Cove on our list.  Access from Wears Valley, Townsend, or even Gatlinburg is still easy even during the months of January and February.  One of our favorite secret spots in the Smokies, the Walker Sister’s Cabin is a great site to visit while Cades Cove is closed.  

Take the Metcalf Bottoms Trail.  This trail is located on Wear Cove Road, just over the wooden vehicle bridge from the picnic area.  Follow the trail for approximately 1.5 miles to the old schoolhouse.    

To reach the cabin from the Schoolhouse, take the Little Brier Gap Trail.  This trail is an old riverbed. It’s wide and well-worn, making a great walk for all the members of your family.  Enjoy the sounds of the nearby streams as you hike. It is approximately 1.1 miles from the schoolhouse to the Walker Sister’s Cabin.


old gatlinburg
old fireplace

Many people remember several years ago a “hidden ghost town” was discovered right here in our park! Of course, Elkmont wasn’t considered a lost place to anyone who has ever visited! 

Access to this “hidden ghost town of the Smokies” is easy. Approximately 5 miles from the Sugarland’s Visitor Center, guests can find signs to Elkmont. Drive back to the Jakes Creek and Little River Trailheads and you’ll find parking.  Take a stroll through the once prestigious Daisy Chain neighborhood. While the buildings are currently off limits due to structural instability and renovations being done by the NPS, walking around the properties you’ll get a good look at these historic sites.  

Read all about this ghost town in our blog post.

Mingus Mill

Only 2 miles north of the Oconaluftee Visitor Center, this historic grist mill is a turbine powered mill that still grinds corn and oats. This historic structure is in great shape and consists of both the mill and the flume and dam system.  It’s an easy walk from the parking area over to these structures. 

The Mill

Mingus Mill, originally built in 1886 by the Mingus Family, was built for a total cost of $600.  Not only did the mill serve as a place to grind your corn, wheat, or oats, it also served as a community center of sorts.  Saturday’s were busy days at the site, with families gathering to have the miller grind their crops for them and catch up with their neighbors from the community.  Imagine a time gone by when you visit this beautifully restored historic site in the Smoky Mountain

Certainly, one sure way to say “Happy Birthday Smokies”, is to enjoy it in person! Some of our favorite places and things to do include visiting Cades Cove, going on a waterfall hike, taking a scenic drive and visiting the Skypark for spectacular views just above town.

Cades Cove is a popular destination in the Park. It’s known for its stunning views, hiking trails, 11-mile walking and biking loop and the wildlife often playing and hanging out there. Read about the Cades Coves trails here.

Enjoy a summer concert or event!


Smoky Mountain Summer Celebration by Food City runs June 15- Aug. 11 and includes evening drone and fireworks displays and bursts of summer color everywhere. There will also be returning family-favorite shows including Gazillion Bubble Show.

“Awe, amazement and Summer wow’s await in Wildwood Grove during the Smoky Mountain Summer Celebration. As the sun sets, the enchanting area of the park comes to life with a lively dance party, stretching the magic of a Summer day even longer. As the stars begin twinkling, Dollywood’s family favorite drone and fireworks show will dance across the night sky, ending the night with breathtaking wonder.

Summer days are brighter at Dollywood, where an explosion of brilliant color has spread across the park! Count the colors of the rainbow on technicolor trees. Look up to see a seemingly endless blanket of radiant kites gently blowing in the wind, providing the perfect amount of shade on a Smoky Mountain Summer day. Snap a selfie with a larger than life picnic basket. Colorful, vibrant memories are just a Summer day away!”

Smoky Mountain Fan Fest – Aug. 10-11, 2024, MeadowView Convention Center in Kingsport, TN., about two hours from Gatlinburg.

All the food and drinks to try

Couple with Adult Beveredge

Find a great southern meal in the smokies – from casual southern lunches such as a fried bologna sandwich or pimento cheese to hearty farm breakfasts with red-eye gravy and country ham and full southern dinners of barbecue or fried chicken with all the vittles.

Check out our southern foods blog post.

Outdoor dining is in all summer – and spring and fall! Check out our favorites here.

Ready to book a cabin and celebrate the Great Smoky Mountains National Park anniversary?

Book your cabin today!

View From Cabin

Stay in a cabin the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. There’s nothing better than having a base camp to explore from during your trip.

Or maybe you’re planning your next visit and want to coordinate around fun events in the Smoky Mountains region. When it comes to Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, and the Smoky Mountains, we’ve got your covered.

If there’s one bad part of our travels to the region it’s this: There’s always so much to do!

From the hottest deals to new restaurants, cabin rentals, and the newest attractions there’s always something new to learn about when it comes to Smoky Mountain travel.

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