A visit to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a necessity for every nature lover, adventurer, photographer, hiker and outdoorsman. Don’t miss out on everything this park has to offer; including numerous vistas, countless hiking trails, beautiful waterfalls, astounding sunrises and so much more! As the most visited national park in the United States, this destination must be added to your bucket list.
Finding Black Bears in the Smokies
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park straddles the border between North Carolina and Tennessee. The main entrances to the park are along U.S. Highway 441 in both Cherokee, NC and Gatlinburg, TN. Both towns offer great places to stay and fun family attractions if you wish to lodge outside of the park itself. Meanwhile, hundreds of black bears lodge inside of the park – fifteen hundred is the current estimate. That’s two black bears for every square mile of the park!
Clingmans Dome Hike
Don’t forget your hiking shoes! There are over 800 miles of hiking trails throughout the park, varying in lengths and difficulty. No hike goes unrewarded in this beautiful mountain range, as each trail leads to a breathtaking vista overlooking the park, an amazing and picturesque waterfall, or an opportunity to see spectacular wildlife. Perhaps the most rewarding hike in the whole park is the hike to Clingman’s Dome. The hike to this observation tower is a half mile up a steep, paved path. And your reward for making it to the top? The view from the top of the world.
Okay, so Clingman’s Dome may not be the top of the world. But it is the highest point in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the highest point in Tennessee, and the highest point on the Appalachian Trial. So, while you might not actually be on the top of the world, when you are standing at the top of the tower looking out into as many as seven states and over one hundred miles, you will feel like you have made it to the top of the world.
If you’re not a great hiker, that’s okay. There’s no reason to let that stand in the way of you enjoying the magnificent views the park has to offer. Throughout the park, there are also numerous roads for auto touring. With nearly four hundred miles of road to travel, you can still enjoy the park and all it has to offer. There are several pull-offs where you can take pictures of the seemingly endless mountains and the peaceful valleys. In fact, one of the most popular places in the Smokies is an eleven-mile motor trail around Cade’s Cove.
While every National Park has something unique to offer, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park tops the list.