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When you’re in East Tennessee, you’ll want to go to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. There’s a wide variety of things you can do. You may be wondering what places to visit in the Smoky Mountains you should go first. Here is our list of top 4 places to visit in the Smoky Mountains:
1. Cades Cove
Cades Cove is probably the most popular place to visit in the Smoky Mountains. You can bring food with you and have a picnic or grill out in the picnic area. There are tables right next to the creek where kids can play while you fix food. Then you can drive the 11-mile loop through the valley where you’ll see incredible views of the mountains. You might even spot black bears, deer, turkey, and many other wild animals. In the spring, everything is bright green and the fields are dotted with wildflowers. When fall comes around, you won’t believe how many different colors you see in the trees. Not only will you have a chance to get close to nature, you’ll also learn more about the history before the park was a park. Visit old cabins, homesteads, and a working grist mill. There are even hiking trails that start in Cades Cove.
2. Laurel Falls
A place to visit in the Smoky Mountains you don’t want to miss is Laurel Falls. This 80-foot-tall waterfall is very impressive. A footbridge makes an upper and lower section of the falls. You can stand right near the water for incredible pictures, and if you’re careful, you can climb down some rocks to see the bottom half even more. This trail is fairly easy since the trail is paved and it’s only 2.3 miles roundtrip. Some portions of the trail have steep drop offs, so take extra precaution when you hike the trail.
3. Clingmans Dome
Clingmans Dome is a popular place to visit in the Smoky Mountains. It’s the highest point in the Smokies where you’ll have incredible views of the mountain range, and it was built in 1959. To get to Clingmans Dome, you just take a short drive through Gatlinburg into the national park. The hike to the top of the observation tower is steep but a roundtrip of 1.2 miles. The path to this site is also paved, and there are benches along the way where you can stop and rest if you need to. Since this elevation is so high, the temperature could be as many as 10 degrees different than in the valley, so you might want to take a light jacket if you get cold easily.
4. Elkmont Ghost Town
A cool, unique place to visit in the Smoky Mountains is Elkmont Ghost Town. People lived in this area for years until the Great Smoky Mountains National Park was established. The National Park Service developed the Elkmont Campground in the 1950s and 60s. The last resident of the ghost town didn’t leave until 2001. The plan for this area was to knock down all of the buildings, but in 1994, the National Register of Historic Places added the Elkmont Ghost Town. The National Park Service then decided to restore these buildings instead.
You have so many neat places to visit in the Smoky Mountains. Now since you know where you’re going to go while you’re here, you need a place to stay! Check out our available vacation rentals and start planning your trip today!