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Great Smoky Mountains National Park

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Overview

Great Smoky Mountains National Park is made up of countless forested mountain ridges that form the border between Tennessee and North Carolina. Encompassing over 800 square miles in the southern Appalachian Mountains, this one of America's most visited national parks, and for good reason! The park is famous for its stunning variety of flora and fauna, the magnificence of its ancient topography, and the remnants of its Southern Appalachian culture. Visitors are sure to be impressed by the wonderful diversity that the park has to offer.

To learn more about Great Smoky Mountains National Park, visit www.nps.gov.

Local Info

Visitor Centers:
Hours of operation vary by season. To see current hours of operation as well as to see the amentities offered at each visitor center, visit the park's website.

  • Cades Cove Visitor Center: Open daily, except on Christmas Day. Hours vary by season.
  • Oconaluftee Visitor Center: Open daily, except on Christmas Day. Hours vary by season.
  • Sugarlands Visitor Center: Open daily, except on Christmas Day. Hours vary by season.
  • Clingmans Dome Visitor Contact Station: Open April through November. Hours vary by season.

Visiting Tips

Great Smoky Mountains National Park is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. However, some secondary roads, campgrounds, and other visitor facilities close in winter. For more information on seasonal closures and to check current conditions, visit the park's website.

Due to the varied elevation and topography in the park, local weather can be unpredictable. The temperatures are greatly varied between mountain tops and valley floors, and the weather can also be drastically different. The park's lowlands average about 55 inches of rain per year while Clingmans Dome receives up to 85 inches per year. Visitors are advised to plan ahead and be conscious of the weather when planning a trip to the park.

Fees & Passes:
There is no entrance fee for Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Camping & Lodging

Camping:
The park maintains ten developed campgrounds. Campsites at Cades Cove, Cataloochee, Cosby, Elkmont, and Smokemont may be reserved online or by phone at (877) 444-6777. Advance reservations are required at Cataloochee Campground. All remaining park campgrounds are filled on a first come, first served basis. For more information about camping reservations, campground amenities, and seasons of operation, visit the park's website.

  • Abrams Creek: 16 sites. Open late May to mid-October. Sites filled on a first come, first served basis.
  • Balsam Mountain: 46 sites. Open late May to mid-October. Sites filled on a first come, first served basis.
  • Big Creek: 12 sites. Open early April to late October. Sites filled on a first come, first served basis.
  • Cades Cove: 159 sites. Open year round. Reservations can be made online.
  • Cataloochee: 27 sites. Open late May to late October. Reservations required and can be made online.
  • Cosby: 157 sites. Open early April to late October. Reservations can be made online.
  • Deep Creek: 92 sites. Open early April to late October. Sites filled on a first come, first served basis.
  • Elkmont: 220 sites. Open mid-March to late November. Reservations can be made online.
  • Look Rock: 68 sites. Sites filled on a first come, first served basis.
  • Smokemont: 142 sites. Open year round. Reservations can be made online.

Backcountry Camping:
Advance reservations and permits are required for all overnight stays in the backcountry. To make reservations, please visit the park's website.

Lodging:
The LeConte Lodge is the only lodging located within the park. It is located on the top of Mount Le Conte and is only accessible on foot. Reservations must be made in advance and can be made online or by calling (865) 429-5704.

Food & Drink

There are limited options for food and beverages located within the park. Cades Cove Campground Store sells limited groceries and camping supplies and has a snack bar that serves breakfast, sandwiches, wraps, soup, chili, pizza, and soft serve ice cream. The Elkmont Campground Concession offers some snack items, beverages, and a limited selection of camping supplies. Smokemont Riding Stables sells snacks, beverages, firewood, and ice. Vending machines can be found at most of the visitor centers. Visitors looking for more dining options can visit the nearby towns located just outside the park.

Other Activities

Visitors to Great Smoky Mountains National Park have a multitude of options when it comes to ways to explore the park. Whether hiking, biking, camping, fishing, horseback riding, picnicking or simply enjoying the scenery from the road, Great Smoky has plenty of opportunities for visitors to enjoy all that the park has to offer. For visitors looking for other adventures in the area, check out the nearby options for mountain biking and rock climbing in the area.

Maps & Guidebooks

If you're interested in learning more about hiking in Great Smoky, please consider purchasing a copy of GSMP: Hiking Trails of the Smokies. The guide covers all 150 official trails in Great Smoky Mountains National Park with in-depth narratives and invaluable profile charts that show mileage, elevation change, and major stream crossings at a glance.

Gems in Great Smoky Mountains National Park - 14

Trail Run Project is built by runners like you. Add Your Gems

gem Favorite Alum Cave Bluff

Alum Cave Bluffs

(85) Gatlinburg, TN
gem Favorite Plenty of mountains to view from Clingman's Dome.

Clingmans Dome

(143) Gatlinburg, TN
gem Favorite Abrams Falls.

Abrams Falls

(77) Wildwood, TN
gem Favorite Hike the popular 2.3 mile roundtrip trail to reach the 80 foot Laurel Falls in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The falls is broken up in an upper and lower section with a narrow bridge cutting across. This photo is shot at the bottom of the lower section of the falls.

Laurel Falls

(114) Gatlinburg, TN
gem Favorite Mount LeConte after a winter storm on the AT. Clouds hug the ridges and hoarfrost covers the trees.

Charlies Bunion

(60) Gatlinburg, TN
gem Favorite Rainbow Falls

Rainbow Falls

(55) Gatlinburg, TN
gem Favorite Andrews Bald.

Andrews Bald

(32) Bryson…, NC
gem Favorite Mount Cammerer Lookout Tower quite literally puts you amidst the clouds.

Mt. Cammerer Lookout Tower

(22) Newport, TN
gem Favorite Mingus Mill

Mingus Mill

(29) Cherokee, NC
gem Favorite Inside the arch rock.

Arch Rock

(21) Gatlinburg, TN
gem Favorite Elk in Great Smoky Mountains National Park Cataloochee Valley

Cataloochee Valley Wildlife Viewpoint

(16) Cove Creek, NC
gem Favorite Hen Wallow Falls - courtesy of the National Park Service.

Hen Wallow Falls

(25) Newport, TN
gem Favorite Juney Whank Falls

Juney Whank Falls

(24) Bryson…, NC
gem Favorite The path narrows as it works its way through the fields of Spence Field. Imagine fields like this being used for cattle grazing when settlers lived in the park.

Spence Field

(4) Robbins…, NC

Recommended Routes in Great Smoky Mountains National Park - 44

Trail Run Project is built by runners like you. Add Your Recommended Routes

Favorite Stream in the Smoky Mtns.
Difficult Difficult

Alum Cave - Cliff Top Out and Back

10.7 mi 17.3 km 2,773' Up 845.09 m Up 2,773' Down 845.09 m Down

Gatlinburg, TN
Explore in 3D
Favorite Mount LeConte after a winter storm on the AT. Clouds hug the ridges and hoarfrost covers the trees.
Intermediate/Difficult Intermediate/Difficult

Charlies Bunion Out and Back

8.0 mi 12.8 km 1,632' Up 497.37 m Up 1,632' Down 497.29 m Down

Gatlinburg, TN
Explore in 3D
Favorite View from the trail
Difficult Difficult

Chimney Tops Trail

4.2 mi 6.7 km 1,420' Up 432.7 m Up 1,420' Down 432.77 m Down

Gatlinburg, TN
Explore in 3D
Favorite Abrams Falls.
Intermediate Intermediate

Abrams Falls Out and Back

5.1 mi 8.2 km 550' Up 167.56 m Up 550' Down 167.56 m Down

Maryville, TN
Explore in 3D
Favorite Rainbow Falls
Intermediate/Difficult Intermediate/Difficult

Rainbow Falls

5.4 mi 8.7 km 1,607' Up 489.94 m Up 1,607' Down 489.89 m Down

Gatlinburg, TN
Explore in 3D
Favorite Grotto Falls
Intermediate Intermediate

Grotto Falls

2.6 mi 4.2 km 515' Up 157.07 m Up 516' Down 157.18 m Down

Gatlinburg, TN
Explore in 3D
Favorite Seen on the way to Ramsey Cascades in late October © Ryan Jones
Difficult Difficult

Ramsey Cascades Trail

8.0 mi 12.8 km 2,209' Up 673.28 m Up 2,208' Down 673.1 m Down

Gatlinburg, TN
Explore in 3D
Favorite Forest on Baxter Creek Trail in Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Difficult Difficult

Mt. Sterling Loop (Big Creek / Baxter Creek)

17.7 mi 28.6 km 4,234' Up 1290.45 m Up 4,233' Down 1290.07 m Down

Cove Creek, NC
Explore in 3D
Favorite Andrews Bald.
Intermediate Intermediate

Andrews Bald Out and Back

3.6 mi 5.8 km 806' Up 245.82 m Up 807' Down 246.08 m Down

Bryson…, NC
Explore in 3D

Great Smoky Mountains National Park Running

  • 1,026 Miles 1,651 Kilometers of Trail
  • 44 Recommended Routes
  • 14 Gems Gems
  • 48 Easy Trails Easy Trails
  • 178 Intermediate Trails Intermediate Trails
  • 104 Difficult Trails Difficult Trails
Trail Run Project is built by runners like you. Share what you know about this area!

Areas Within Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Weather Averages


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Trails in Great Smoky Mountains National Park - 286

Trail Run Project is built by runners like you. Add Your Trails

0.8 mi 1.3 km #1Clingmans Dome Trail
Intermediate Intermediate
Bryson City, NC
Intermediate Intermediate
Bryson City, NC 88 
4.1 mi 6.6 km #2Laurel Falls Trail
Intermediate Intermediate
Gatlinburg, TN
Intermediate Intermediate
Gatlinburg, TN 45 
4.2 mi 6.8 km #3Middle Prong Trail
Intermediate Intermediate
Gatlinburg, TN
Intermediate Intermediate
Gatlinburg, TN 34 
5.0 mi 8.1 km #4Alum Cave Trail
Difficult Difficult
Gatlinburg, TN
Difficult Difficult
Gatlinburg, TN 22 
2.8 mi 4.5 km #5Baskins Creek Trail
Intermediate/Difficult Intermediate/Difficult
Gatlinburg, TN
Intermediate/Difficult Intermediate/Difficult
Gatlinburg, TN 22 
5.4 mi 8.7 km #6Boulevard Trail
Intermediate/Difficult Intermediate/Difficult
Gatlinburg, TN
Intermediate/Difficult Intermediate/Difficult
Gatlinburg, TN 14 
15.6 mi 25.1 km #7Hazel Creek Trail
Intermediate Intermediate
Robbinsville, NC
Intermediate Intermediate
Robbinsville, NC
0.8 mi 1.3 km #8Cades Cove Nature Trail
Intermediate Intermediate
Wildwood, TN
Intermediate Intermediate
Wildwood, TN 16 
6.6 mi 10.6 km #9Baxter Creek Trail
Difficult Difficult
Cove Creek, NC
Difficult Difficult
Cove Creek, NC 14 
0.5 mi 0.8 km #10Cliff Top Viewpoint Access
Intermediate/Difficult Intermediate/Difficult
Gatlinburg, TN
Intermediate/Difficult Intermediate/Difficult
Gatlinburg, TN

Photos of Great Smoky Mountains National Park - 941

Trail Run Project is built by runners like you. Add Your Photos

Forest on Baxter Creek Trail in Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Jul 28, 2015 near Cove Creek, NC
Stream in the Smoky Mtns.
Sep 3, 2015 near Gatlinburg, TN
Midnight Hole © Ryan Jones
Jan 16, 2016 near Cove Creek, NC
Mouse Creek Falls © Ryan Jones
Jan 16, 2016 near Cove Creek, NC
Seen on the way to Ramsey Cascades in late October © Ryan Jones
Jan 16, 2016 near Gatlinburg, TN
Mount LeConte after a winter storm on the AT. Clouds hug the ridges and hoarfrost covers the trees.
Feb 5, 2016 near Gatlinburg, TN
Plenty of mountains to view from Clingman's Dome.
Mar 31, 2016 near Gatlinburg, TN
Hike the popular 2.3 mile roundtrip trail to reach the 80 foot Laurel Falls in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The falls is broken up in an upper and lower section with a narrow bridge cutting across. This photo is shot at the bottom of the lower section of the falls.
Apr 7, 2016 near Gatlinburg, TN
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