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Things to do in the Smoky Mountains

The lush forests, miles of sparkling streams and rivers, and the majestic peaks of the Smoky Mountains make up the beautiful Great Smoky Mountains National Park, an unforgettable destination in the heart of Tennessee. This breathtaking getaway is everything you’re looking for in a little adventure or rest and relaxation, offering all sorts of exciting activities that you’ll be talking about for years to come. Whether you’re visiting with family, friends, or that special someone, you’re sure to discover exactly why the Smoky Mountains is America's most favorite national park.

1. Discover the highest point in Tennessee on your Smoky Mountains vacation. Clingmans Dome rests at 6,643 feet above sea level and is the third tallest mountain east of the Mississippi River. A seven-mile stretch of the Clingmans Dome Road takes you to the Visitors Center and the half-mile trail that heads right up to the summit. A variety of pullout areas let you stop to take in the scenery and the majestic peaks of the Smokies. And when you reach the top, the 360-degree observation platform welcomes you with 100-mile views that’s sure to take your breath away!

2. Whether a beginner or an expert, a horseback riding trip in the Smokies is something that can’t be missed. Sugarlands Riding Stables is a great option for enjoying all the sights and sounds without being overwhelmed by the busy tourist crowds. Located less than two miles outside of Gatlinburg, Sugarlands offers one, one and a half, and two hour guided horseback riding tours to choose from, each led by experienced guides who will show you all the ropes. You’re sure to discover some incredible scenery and, if you’re lucky, spot a bear or two!

3. Even the grumpiest vacationer will be awed by the stunning beauty of the Roaring Fork Nature Trail. This six-mile, one-way scenic drive takes you through the Smoky Mountains and lets you soak up some of the most spectacular views of the park. The trip starts at the Noah Ogle farmstead with tours of the historic buildings and where you’ll also find the trailhead for Rainbow Falls, a 5.4-mile hike to a breathtaking 80-foot high waterfall--the tallest single-drop waterfall in the whole park! The Roaring Fork trail also takes you to Grotto Falls, where you can actually stand behind the water and watch as it pours into the pool, or you can stay in your car and drive up to the Place of a Thousand Drips, located near the end of the Roaring Fork trail!

4. Cades Cove is an 11-mile loop that winds its way through the Smoky Mountains National Park and is consistently a popular destination for travelers of all ages. This relaxing, picturesque drive lets you explore an area where Europeans settled between 1818 and 1821 and now welcomes visitors with the largest collection of historic buildings in the park. Step out of the car and back into time as you discover these restored old-world buildings that includes three churches, a working grist mill, log houses and much more. A self-guided touring book is available at the road entrance!

5. Fishing in the Smoky Mountains National Park is a given. With nearly 2,900 miles of streams throughout the park and one of the last wild trout habitats in eastern United States, the Smoky Mountains offers fishing experiences that truly cannot be beat. Whether you’re an avid angler or a first-time fisherman, you’ll find the wide options for casting your line lets you discover the place just right for you. Choose a remote stream for complete privacy, or tackle larger rivers and lakes if you’re comfortable with the crowds. No matter where you stop to fish, you’re sure to reel in something great!