U.S. National Park Series

Great Smoky Mountains: America’s Favorite

I have very fond memories of growing up as a kid in North Carolina and driving to Great Smoky Mountains National Park. My family moved away when i was teenager, but I moved back to the area as an adult. The Great Smokies are one of those places that call out to you. The amazing views, green landscape, and dense fog make Great Smoky Mountains National Park America’s favorite. Proof of that is the fact that it is the most visited national park in the United States. Tennessee and North Carolina both claim part of the park. The Great Smokies have also even been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site.


View of mountains with fog
Great Smoky Mountains


Cades Cove is a historic district in the park. The National Park Service maintains the structures here that include log cabins, churches, barns, and a mill. I have always enjoyed the John Cable Grist Mill as one of the stand outs of this area. The grist mill exemplifies the pioneer style of life that Cades Coves aims to preserve. Another huge attraction of Cades Cove is the wildlife. Numerous black bear sightings and the abundance of deer draw in millions of visitors.


grist mill in the mountains
Grist mill


Clingsman Dome is the highest point in the park. The peak has an elevation of 6643 feet. This makes it one of the highest points in all of the United States. An observation tower allows for spectacular views. Visibility is said to be up to 100 miles on a clear day. It’s one of the must see destinations while visiting the park. You cannot help but be amazed by nature when looking out and taking the scenery all in.


Foggy day at mountain observation tower
Clingmans Dome Observation Tower


The Great Smoky Mountains are also a wonderful place for seeing waterfalls. I absolutely love waterfalls. They are one of my favorite features of nature. The best activity you can do in the park is to go hiking. What better treasure can you ask for at the end of a trail than a waterfall? The mesmerizing motion, the entrancing sound, the fresh feel of the mist on your face. Waterfalls are truly therapeutic. There are numerous waterfalls to choose from too. The names can be very colorful such as Juney Whank Falls, Rainbow Falls, Mouse Creek Falls, or the Place of a Thousand Drips. Popular waterfalls include Grotto Falls, Abrams Falls, and Laurel Falls.


Waterfall in Smoky Mountains
Abrams Falls


One of the best ways to find hikes, waterfalls, peaks, and other points of interest is to stop by one of the National Park Service visitor centers. Both of the aforementioned Cades Cove and Clingmans Dome have their own visitor centers. There are also visitor centers near the entrances in the east and west. If coming in from Tennessee, visit Sugarlands Visitor Center. While if entering from North Carolina, stop in at Oconaluftee Visitor Center. Other areas of interest to explore near the park include Gatlinburg, Tennessee and Cherokee, North Carolina.


Great Smoky Mountains: America's Favorite

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