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    12 Reasons To Visit The Great Smoky Mountains

    Ever wonder what the most visited National Park is? Well, it's the Great Smoky Mountains National Park of Tennessee and North Carolina. With over 10 millions visitors a year it surpasses the second most visited, Grand Canyon, by nearly 5 million people. Scratching your head as to why? Here is your answer.

    1. It's Free!

    Johnson City Press / Via

    That's right. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a free park for all of it's visitors. Being established during the great depression, the US Government said that the money to make it a park would need to be fundraised. So, between the generous states of Tennessee and North Carolina raising money along with the matched gift of $5 million from John D. Rockefeller Jr., the park was acquired.

    Because this park was purchased by the people with their money, it was written into the original laws that it will always be a free National Park. You won't see any entry gates on these roads!

    2. Open Spaces

    Adventure Club SA / Via

    With over 520,000 acres, 800+ miles of trails and 700+ miles of fish bearing streams, there is plenty to do in the Smokies. Whether you like hiking, fishing or just a quiet stroll down a nice cleared path, there are options for you. Get out and see it for yourself!

    3. Unique Wildlife

    Susan K. Fleming // CBC-TV / Via

    There is a large diversity of animals throughout the park. With a wide variety of elevations and many forrest types, different animals can thrive in many areas. You will find hybrid animals like the Coywolf (wolf and coyote hybrid) as well as the largest variety of salamander in the world! There is even a Red Cheeked salamander that only lives in the park!

    4. Black Bear

    Visit My Smokies / Via

    With an estimated 1500 bear in the park (that's 2 per square mile!) and plenty of places to see them, it is one of the biggest attraction in the Smokies. They might look cute and cuddly, but these beasts can run up to 30 miles an hour and typically weigh around 250 pounds with some measuring in at over 600 pounds! If you see one, keep your distance but enjoy it's majestic beauty! Read more about them here!

    Want to hear a fun story about a close encounter with a bear? Check out a local guides experience while on trail! Smoky Mountain Guides

    5. Variety Of Forests

    ekgoodman / Via

    Within the National Park's 520,000 acres are 100 native tree species and 100+ native shrub species which form 5 major forest types. Cove Hardwood Forests, Spruce-fir Forests, Northern Hardwood Forests, Hemlock Forests and Pine-and-Oak Forests make up the national park and can grow in diversity because of the elevation changes from just above 800 feet up to 6,644 feet at Clingmans Dome! Some of the highest elevations are actually considered a temperate rain forest receiving 100+ inches of snow a year and 80+ inches of rain! Read more here!

    6. The Views

    Visit My Smokies / Via

    If there wasn't enough happening in the Smokies already, there are the views. With plenty of lookouts and the highest elevation being accessible by vehicle and a short walk, you can see them with ease. Get out and see them for yourself!

    7. Colorful Fall

    Jared Anders - Smoky Mountain Guides

    The picture speaks for itself but fall in the Smokies is one of the most beautiful experiences you will ever have. With so many different forest types, the colors pop and truly stand above all the rest. The large amount of rain the park receives in it's rain forest also helps with the bright foliage. Spend your next October in the Smokies!

    8. Accessibility

    Visit My Smokies / Via

    It's easy to get into the Smokies with half the park being in North Carolina and the other half Tennessee. It's connected to many main highways and interstates including I-40! Just punch it in your GPS and see for yourself!

    9. Human History

    Jared Anders - Smoky Mountain Guides

    The GSMNP is a unique park in that it's just over 75 years old and was a very established area prior to the park coming into existence. In fact, people lived in their homes in the park up until 2001! There are cemeteries scattered throughout the park, old vacation communities like Elkmont with homes on the National Historic Registry and the rich history of the Cherokee Indians as well!

    10. Appalachian Trail

    William Britten / Via

    With 71 miles of the Appalachian Trail going through the park, the brave who attempt this amazing feat spend a good amount of time here. It passes through some of the parks highest peaks and lowest valleys with the city of Gatlinburg being a nice reprieve from the overwhelming and exhausting hike. It also forms the state line between Tennessee and North Carolina! Check out the Smokies portion of the AT and see the beautiful views it has to offer far from the roads and well traveled trails.

    11. Moonshine


    Corn liquor, Tennessee white whiskey and mountain dew are just a few names for un-aged whiskey with the most common being moonshine. With it's early origins being established in these mountains and eventually causing the birth of NASCAR, it has a special place in the locals history and hearts. As of 2010 it became legal in Tennessee and now there are 4 different distilleries in downtown Gatlinburg alone within a mile or two of the park entrance! See where the shiners made their booze and try some for yourself at one of the local distilleries!

    12. Plenty To Do


    While the Great Smoky Mountains National Park can hold it's own on drawing people in, it doesn't hurt that one side has a Cherokee Indian reservation with a casino and the other is small towns filled with plenty of tourist attractions. From Ober Gatlinburg's ski resort to Dolly Parton's own theme park, Dollywood, and plenty of shopping and attractions in-between, you will never run out of things to do.

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