Wake up and breathe the crisp mountain air, sip your coffee on the deck of your hotel suite and keep an eye on the wilderness – you might just see a deer or an elk wandering out of the forest. Encounters with wildlife are commonplace when visiting Great Smoky Mountains National Park and this pristine ecosystem is known for its old growth forests, rugged mountain peaks, mysterious caves and welcoming historic towns. It’s no wonder visitors come from all over the USA and the world to lose themselves in this wild and beautiful landscape.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park is one of the only National Parks in the USA that is free to enter – making a great stop for any budget-conscious nature loving traveler. The park offers excellent facilities and amenities for travelers. The 10 modern campsites feature flush toilets and cold running water with a few even having electrical hook-ups (Elkmont, Smokemont and Cades Cove).
Why is There No Entrance Fee?
Great Smoky Mountains National Park has had no entrance fee since the 1930s, but what is the story behind this decision? The park land was once privately owned. When the states of North Carolina and Tennessee paid to construct the Newfound Gap Road, they transferred ownership of it to the federal government.
As a condition of this transfer they stated that no license fee or toll should ever be imposed on people traveling on this road. If the park ever wanted to charge an entrance fee, action by the Tennessee legislature would be required.
Here are just a few of the adventures that you can look forward to when staying in Smoky Mountains National Park:
Fly fishing. This beautiful national park has more than 2,100 miles of streams within its borders.
Horseback riding. Take a guided ride on horse through the wild forests and mountain trails just like the cowboys once did.
Biking. One of the favorite things for visitors to do is go biking and take in the beautiful scenery on the Cades Cove Loop Road.
Hiking. The Smoky Mountains offer amazing hiking all year round and you can explore spruce-fir forests, mountain streams, waterfalls and meadows filled with wild flowers.
Picnicking. There are several incredibly scenic spots with picnic tables where you can enjoy an al fresco meal while surveying the scenery.
Accommodations near the Great Smoky Mountains National Park
There are plenty of choices for where to stay when you are visiting Great Smoky Mountains National Park, including cabin rentals, camping, hotels, motels and much more.
A great option is Guest House Inn in Pigeon Forge, which is in a great location conveniently close to the attractions yet still surrounded by quiet wilderness.
The hotel features a microwave, mini-fridge and wireless in each room and a lovely seasonal outdoor pool where you can splash in the summer sunshine. Why not check out this option for your next Smoky Mountain vacation?
There are so many great things about Pigeon Forge—the activities, the scenery, the people. In the midst of all the beauty and excitement, however, sometimes we forget to the recognize and appreciate the wonderful businesses that work so hard to keep our community moving in one continuous motion. For this reason, we asked people to take time to reflect on our community and vote for the Best of Pigeon Forge 2015. Each vote symbolizes a big thank you to our businesses for all that they do to keep us functioning. And 120,000 thank yous later, we have finally reached a consensus and would like to formally recognize 35 businesses for the pride and effort they put forth serving our community.
Aside from the winners in each category, we would also like to congratulate the runner ups for their equally appreciated contributions. Pigeon Forge is blessed with so many wonderful restaurants, drinks, attractions, lodging and wedding services that make our town a better place to visit, live and call home.
Fall time is finally upon us! Pumpkin-flavored-everything splatter storefronts, the weather has a cool, crispness to it and the leaves are showing the earliest signs of changing. If you are looking to do something with the whole family this fall, try taking a drive on one of these beautiful, scenic routes in the Smoky Mountains.
1.) Cades Cove Loop Road
It can be argued that Cades Cove is one of people's favorite areas in the Great Smoky Mountains National park, and for good reason—it is gorgeous. The 11 mile, one-way loop road will carry you through forests and past a 20-foot waterfall that leads into a steam. Because the road is open sunrise to sunset year-round, try going later in the afternoon, so you can view all this beauty just as the sun begins sinking towards the horizon.
2.) Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail
This six-mile long trail is home to one of the largest and swiftest mountain streams in the Park. Between the old forests and historic buildings and structures, there is much to see on this drive. In the fall, the colors of the trees will take your breath away so much that you might have to drive around a few times just to process the sheer beauty of it all. While you’re there, consider checking out the 80-foot tall waterfall, the highest waterfall in the Smokies.
3.) Foothills Parkway
Located near the Smoky Mountains, Foothills Parkway will take drivers to a lower altitude, so they can appreciate the view from a different perspective. You will see the vast number of autumn trees that blanket the mountains in a rainbow of oranges, reds and yellows, as they cascade over you. And this particular parkway allows for RV’s and trailers too, so you can drive through, no matter what kind of vehicle you drive.
4.) Tail of the Dragon
Out of Cades Cove, on Highway 129, the Tail of the Dragon is an 11-mile stretch that winds and curves its way through the Smoky Mountains of Pigeon Forge. You will get to see hills, valleys, forests and mountain peaks on this fun drive. However, be cautious, as the road features many sharp turns, so be sure to stick to the 30 MPH speed limit.
5.) Cataloochee Valley
Nestled in a valley of the Smoky Mountains is Cataloochee Valley. Driving through this area, you will be surrounded by peaks that reach over 6,000 feet. Several old structures are planted in this valley, including a school, churches and houses. It’s a great place to see some beautiful fall colors and learn a little bit about American history.
If you want to see these amazing sights, pack up the kids and the car, and take your family on a drive that doesn’t involve sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic. Take a lunch, crank some tunes, and enjoy the view. Book a Pigeon Forge cabin for the weekend, and spend some quality time with your family in the Smoky Mountains.