3 Must-See Places in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

One of the best parts of staying in the Smoky Mountain area is being outdoors. With that being said, you should definitely visit the Great Smoky Mountains National Park if you’re looking for more things to do on your vacation. Get to know this special place a little better by exploring this list of 3 must-see places in Great Smoky Mountains National Park:

1. Cades Cove

Receiving an estimated 5 million visitors every year, Cades Cove is the most visited area of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It’s not hard to see why! First, visitors love the natural scenery. One of the most stunning sights is a 20-foot waterfall that you can see when exploring the Abrams Falls Trail. Cades Cove is also home to large numbers of the park’s most popular resident, black bears. Even though black bears can live at a variety of elevations, they like it here because of the wide open valleys. Another thing that visitors love about the area is its rich history. Before it was the popular tourist attraction that we all know and love, Cades Cove was home to a thriving community of settlers. Today, you can see remnants of their hard work in the form of historical structures, some of which include the John Oliver Cabin and Primitive Baptist Church. You can see these buildings and more on Cades Cove Loop Road! It is an 11-mile scenic one-way drive filled with everything there is to love about Cades Cove! This is a great alternative activity for individuals who may not enjoy hiking!

2. Clingmans Dome

Clingmans Dome hike at sunrise

Clingmans Dome is a great place to see breathtaking views in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Coming in at 6,643 feet, it has set records for being the highest point in the park and in Tennessee overall. When you stand in the observation tower, you can see views for more than 100 miles on a clear day. If you visit during the colder months, it is important to note that Clingmans Dome Road closes seasonally from early December though late March due to hazardous winter conditions. Even so, visitors can still walk up the road to reach the observation tower. Keep in mind that this route is very strenuous, as it is 17.5 miles round trip. Additionally, the high elevation of Clingmans Dome makes it 10 to 20 degrees colder. Stay warm by dressing in layers and wearing insulated boots.

3. Elkmont

Elkmont is another popular place on the Tennessee side of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Of course, it is known for its beautiful scenery just like the rest of the area. However, the interesting backstory intrigues visitors the most! Elkmont was first settled in the 1840’s. In 1901, Colonel Wilson B. Townsend founded the Little River Lumber Company on the land. Later, the area became a resort community. When the Great Smoky Mountains National Park was established, the people moved away and there were over 70 abandoned buildings. Because of this large quantity, this area was deemed a “ghost town.” A number of individuals have worked to protect Elkmont’s history. Today, over 19 of the buildings have been restored and preserved. Some structures have been moved from the original locations. Most of them are cabins in which the residents once lived. You can also see the Appalachian Clubhouse as well!

We hope you visit Great Smoky Mountains National Park during your stay with us. If you can’t wait to see the area, take a look at our webcams!