U.S. National Park Series (4) – Great Smokey Mountain National Park

Several years ago, I saw some pictures taken in the Great Smokey Mountain National park and fell love with the park the moment I saw those pictures. I finally went there in 2007 and it was just as beautiful as I thought it should be. No wonder it’s America’s most visited national park. 

When to visit

The park is open 365 days a year but I will definitely recommend visiting there in autumn. Specifically, you may want to check the fall foliage calendar to make sure you don’t miss the fall colors there. 

Another good season to visit there is in summer, if you would like to try white water rafting. 

How to Get There 

The Great Smokey Mountain National Park is located at the border between North Carolina and Tennessee.

There are two entrances at the TN site and one at the NC site. I went in from the TN site through the small town, Gatlinburg and left the park a few days later from Cherokee, NC. Gatlinburg is a really small, nice town. We stayed in a cabin just outside of Gatlinburg and really enjoyed the quietness and valley view there.

What to Do There

As mentioned earlier, if you go there in summer you would definitely want to try white water rafting in the pigeon river, which is located in the heart of the Smokey Mountain area. Of course you can still try rafting in autumn, but my experience told me it wasn’t as fun as during the summer time. 

You should definitely arrange for a trip to visit the Great Smokey Mountain National Park in fall (late September to mid-October) following the fall foliage calendar. The view is simply breathtaking. 

Depending on your budget, you can choose to stay in rental cabins, which was what we did when we visited there. It’s a cabin located just beside a farm on a small hill, overseeing a valley full of fall colors. Gorgeous view!

Go hike some trails and drive your car following some auto tour guides. Hiking is the best way to experience national parks and you might spot some animals. 

We saw deer and black bears in the Great Smokey Mountain National Park, including a bear climbing up to the top of a tree. 

You can purchase the hiking trail map from the visitor center and plan your hiking trails accordingly. 

If you have some extra time, you can also spend a few hours in the small town Gatlinburg. There are a lot of things going on each autumn. We went to the Smokey Mountain Harvest Festival and a local farm fair. Well, an opportunity to get to know the local culture for sure.