Top Picnic Areas In The Smokies

A picnic in the Great Smoky Mountains is one of life’s greatest pleasures. You’ll experience nature, tranquility and delicious food in new ways. Here are 5 picnic areas in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park to help you plan your next day out.


There’s no question why many folks consider picnicking at the Chimneys one of the best things to do in the Smoky Mountains. Here you’ll experience breathtaking views while listening to the gentle roar of a nearby creek. Located near Cove Hardwood Nature Trail, the Chimneys Picnic Area is open until 8 p.m. during the summer months (May-August) and at dusk the rest of the year. Pack your picnic ready or cook on one of the grills provided here. Restroom facilities are available.

Metcalf Bottoms

Nestled along the Little River, Metcalf Bottoms is another of the best picnic areas in the Smoky Mountains. Most of Metcalf Bottoms picnic area is open year round, so it’s perfect for taking advantage during the cooler months. Rent the pavilion here in advance from the National Park Service or take advantage of the provided tables. Metcalf Bottoms is located in the Wears Valley area off of Lyon Springs Road.


Located in one of the most scenic parts of the Great Smoky Mountains, the Greenbrier picnic area is one of the park’s greatest treasures. Here you’ll find a pavilion that seats 70 and can be reserved in advance for your next gathering. Situated along the Little Pigeon River, you’ll find beautiful views of wildflowers here all spring and summer. The Greenbrier picnic area is open year-round and is near the Porters Creek Trail and Ramsey Cascades Trail.

Cades Cove

Cades Cove is one of our favorite areas of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Here you’ll find breathtaking mountain views year-round. This picturesque valley features a picnic area right off the main loop where you can enjoy a picnic any time of the year. Cades Cove also offers some of the best opportunities for wildlife viewing in the park. You might spot deer, groundhogs, turkeys, skunks or even a bear during your picnic in Cades Cove.

Big Creek

The Big Creek Picnic Area is located just over the state line in North Carolina, but it’s well worth the drive. This cozy picnic area only features 10 sites, but it promises beautiful views and breathtaking scenery. Open April-October, the picnic area closes at dusk. Amenities include charcoal grills and restrooms with flush toilets and cold running water.

When you’re picnicking in the Great Smoky Mountains, it’s important to remember to respect the nature around you. Clean up after your picnic by disposing of all trash and cool charcoal ashes in the receptacles provided. Do not interact with or feed any wildlife you see during your picnic, especially bears. Feeding bears can cause them to become day active and teach them to leave the safety of the back country.

All Picnic Areas In The Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Picnic Area Location Open/Close Dates Number of Sites Pavillion
Big Creek Gatlinburg, TN March 30 - Oct 28 10 None
Cades Cove Townsend, TN Year Round 81 None
Chimneys Gatlinburg, TN March 11 - Nov 28 68 None
Collins Creek Bryson City, NC March 30 - Oct 28 182 Seats 70
Cosby Cosby, TN March 23 - Oct 28 35 Seats 55
Deep Creek Bryson City, NC Year Round 58 Seats 70
Greenbrier Gatlinburg, TN Year Round 12 Seats 70
Heintooga Cherokee, NC May 26 - Oct 10 41 None
Metcalf Bottoms Gatlinburg, TN Year Round 122 Seats 70
Twin Creeks Gatlinburg, TN March 30 - Oct 28 Pavilion Only Seats 150

Ready to pack up for your Smoky Mountain picnic? Learn more about things to do in the Smokies and make the most of your time in the mountains!