Favorite Smoky Mountain Destinations

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park has many places that our visitors love! Showcasing historic sites like Newfound Gap and Clingmans Dome, Gatlinburg Arts and Crafts community, Wears Valley, old homesteads and communities like Cades Cove, and beautiful vistas and parkways like the Foothills Parkway or the Blueridge Parkway. Take a step back in time and celebrate our Smoky Mountain heritage. Plan your Smoky Mountain Vacation and be sure to visit one of these popular destinations.

The Appalachian Trail

The Appalachian Trail–which stretches over 2,000 miles from Maine to Georgia–connects through Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Appalachian Trail

Blue Ridge Parkway

The Blue Ridge Parkway is a slow paced scenic drive. The scenery is outstanding, and there are many recreational sites along the way–campgrounds and visitor centers to name a few. There are also restaurants and lodging along Blue Ridge Parkway.

Blue Ridge Parkway

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 sampler of everything the park has to offer. Cades Cove Loop Road is the most popular biking trail in the park.

Cades Cove

top smoky mountain destinations
Kittuwa Mound Cherokee, NC by Brian Stansberry / CC BY 3.0

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.

Cherokee

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.

Clingmans Dome

Elkmont

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.

Elkmont

Foothills Parkway

Under construction since 1944, Foothills Parkway is the oldest unfinished highway project in Tennessee. All of the completed sections provide excellent views are enjoyable scenic drives.

Foothills Parkway

top smoky mountain destinations
Foothills Parkway Look Rock by Brian Stansberry / CC BY 3.0

Look Rock

Look Rock is a natural observation ledge. There is also an observation tower that is open to the public. To get to the tower you must take the 1/2 mile hike. Visitors enjoy 360 degree panoramic views.

Look Rock

Lost CCC Camp

Civilian Conservation Corps—There were roughly 22 CCC camps in the Great Smoky Mountains from 1933 – 1942, and as many as 4,000 men worked in these camps reforesting the area and building fire towers.

Lost CCC Camp

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. There are no road ways or transportation up the mountain.

Mount LeConte

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.

Newfound Gap

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.”

Townsend