Top Places To Visit In The Smoky Mountains

There are countless places to visit in the Smoky Mountains depending on your interests. Showcasing historic top sites like Newfound Gap and Clingmans Dome, Wears Valley, old homesteads and communities like Cades Cove, and beautiful vistas and parkways like the Foothills Parkway or the Blue Ridge Parkway. Take a step back in time and celebrate our Smoky Mountain heritage. Plan your vacation and be sure to check out some of these top places to visit in the Smoky Mountains.

Places To Visit In The Smoky Mountains: Tennessee

Cades Cove

Cades Cove is the most visited area of the national park. With wildlife and 19th Century home sites, this idyllic setting is a sample of everything the park has to offer. There's tons of history in the area. Cades Cove Loop Road is the most popular biking trail in the park and is starting point for many popular hiking trails.

Cades Cove


A former logging community, Elkmont is named for the elk that inhabited the area years ago. Before the beginning of the national park, local citizens held recreational summer cottages in Elkmont. In 2009, plans were announced to restore the historic clubhouse and 18 remaining cottages. The area is now host to one of the more popular campgrounds in the park.


Look Rock

Look Rock is a natural observation ledge home to one of the six fire towers in the area. The observation tower that is open to the public and fairly easy to access via the paved path. To get to the tower you must take the 1/2 mile hike (1 mile roundtrip). Visitors enjoy 360 degree panoramic views.

Look Rock

Mount LeConte

Mt. LeConte has a Lodge at the top, but the only way to get to the lodge is by foot. All guests wishing to stay must hike one of the 6 trails leading to the summit. There are no road ways or transportation up the mountain, but the hikes to get there provide some of the best views in the park. Depending on which route you take, you'll see waterfalls, caves, and even llamas.

Mt. LeConte

Townsend, Tennessee

Compared to the Sevierville-Pigeon Forge-Gatlinburg corridor, Townsend, Tennessee seems like a quaint and scenic little village. Townsend is adjacent to the Cades Cove and Little River region of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Townsend is commonly referred to as “The Peaceful Side of the Smokies.”


Places To Visit In The Smoky Mountains: On The Border / Through TN & NC

Newfound Gap

When driving from either Gatlinburg, TN or Cherokee, NC, travelers will climb 3,000 feet. There is a memorial at Newfound Gap, Rockefeller Memorial, which honors a $5 million dollar donation from the Rockefeller Foundation. This location has a very popular scenic overlook and is also the starting point for the hike to Charlies Bunion.

Newfound Gap

Clingmans Dome

At 6,643 feet, Clingmans Dome is the highest point in the national park. Located along the state-line ridge, it is half in Tennessee and half in North Carolina. It's a popular and easy hiking trail to the observation tower, and the parking lot serves as the starting point to reach places like Andrews Bald. It's also one of the 6 fire towers in the national park.

Clingmans Dome

The Appalachian Trail

Stretching more than 2,000 miles from Maine to Georgia, the Appalachian Trail (or the AT as it is commonly called) runs for nearly 71 miles through the middle of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park along the border of Tennessee and North Carolina. There are many popular section hikes on this route, including the popular Charlies Bunion.

Appalachian Trail

Scenic Drives

Less of a destination and more of a journey, driving through the national park can be a very enjoyable experience at the right time of year. The Great Smoky Mountains are home to beautiful scenery along famous roads like the Blue Ridge Parkway, Roaring Fork Motor Trail, and the never-ending pieces of the Foothills Parkway.

Scenic Drives

Places To Visit In The Smoky Mountains: North Carolina

Deep Creek, North Carolina

Located just about 3 miles north of Bryson City, NC and in the southern part of the national park is this beautiful wooded area with three waterfalls, a popular campground, and plenty of places to hike, fish, picnic, and go tubing and horseback riding. It is one of the more popular areas on the North Carolina side of the GSMNP.

Deep Creek

Cherokee, North Carolina

The town of Cherokee serves as headquarters for the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, a federally recognized Native American tribe. In the town of Cherokee is Harrah’s Cherokee Casino, which is owned by the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians and operated by Harrah’s Entertainment.


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