Top 5 Places to Visit in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Trying to decide which places to visit in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park? With the park encompassing over 500,000 acres there’s a lot to see! And you can find it all, from amazing wildlife to places full of Appalachian history! Hiking in the Smoky Mountains has created a list of several of the top must visit places in the Smokies for you!
1. Rockefeller Memorial
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park was officially established in 1934. And one of the key people that helped the establishment was John D. Rockefeller who contributed over $5 million to the soon to be park. The Rockefeller Memorial sits astride the Tennessee and North Carolina state lines. It’s here that President Franklin Roosevelt made an official dedication of the national park! The Rockefeller Memorial is located on Newfound Gap Road.
2. Clingmans Dome
Clingmans Dome is one of the most visited areas in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The observation tower is 45 feet tall and offers incredible panoramic views of the mountains. Not only that, but Clingmans Dome has the highest elevation in the national park at 6,643 feet! On clear days it’s possible to see over 100 miles! The hike to the tower and back is roughly 1 mile, and can be considered moderate in difficulty.
3. Cades Cove
Cades Cove is the one of the most popular places to visit in the the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The 11 mile loop is full of things to see! From rustic cabins to primitive churches there’s plenty to explore! Cades Cove is a common place to spot wildlife like deer and black bears! Moreover, even if you don’t spot any wildlife you will be treated to some outstanding views of the mountains and the Cades Cove valley.
4. Arch Rock
Along the hike to Alum Cave is Arch Rock. This is a unique experience for many hikers to the Smokies. You will actually get to pass up and through the rock! A stone staircase has been made for hikers to use for getting through the rock. Arch Rock is located within the first mile of the Alum Cave Trail. You can continue up this trail to see the Alum Cave Bluffs and great mountain views.
5. Abandoned Steam Engine
Take a hike down the Grapeyard Ridge Trail and you will find an old steam engine. The engine is wreckage left over from a train that was derailed during logging times in the Smokies. This is a peaceful trail that’s 5.8 miles roundtrip. It’s uniqueness and look into the past make it one of the coolest places to visit in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park!
You can find a little of everything in these places to visit in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. However, another must-see place for any visitor to the Smokies is a waterfall! We made a list of the best waterfall hikes to go on in the Smoky Mountains, so that you will know where to go and what to expect!