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The views from Clingmans Dome make it worth the short drive.
Photo Credit: guyonthego

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

107 Park Headquarters Road Gatlinburg,Tennessee 37738
Park is open 24 hours. Hours for the visitor centers vary, but are generally 8-5.
865-436-1200 2 days
April 2011 Summer, Fall, Spring
$0-9 Gatlinburg Tennessee
Website Nature National Parks
First review
Great Smokey Mountains National Park is a 522,419 acre park established in 1940. It straddles the border between North Carolina and Tennessee in the Appalachian region. The Smokey Mountains, which were named for frequent rain fog, are one of the world's great natural areas with an incredibly rich diversity of life. Over 17,000 species have been identified here. There are over 100 species of trees alone, which is greater than any other US national park. It’s also the most visited park in America.

The park stemmed from a movement in the early 20th century to establish natural areas in the East to keep pace with the national parks in the West. However, the Smokey Mountains area was already settled. It took a painstaking multi-year process to acquire the land through voluntary purchases as well as condemnations. Once the land was secured, it was conveyed to the US government.

Smokey Mountains is a big place so plan to spend at least a couple of days to see it. There are visitor centers with interesting exhibits and movies at both the north and south entries to the park. It’s a good idea to stop at one first to ensure places of interest are open. It’s also better to visit here in the off season, such as April or September than more crowded summer months. The most interesting attractions were Cades Cove (a variety of homes and buildings which pre-date the park), Clingmans Dome (an observation tower and great mountain views), and Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail (additional historic homes and a beautiful waterfall). Hiking options are nearly unlimited. For a difficult hike, Chimney Tops Trail is a convenient option off the main park road. Laurel Falls Trail is an easy paved trail to Laurel Falls, which is a popular attraction. There is a separate review of Alum Cave Trail which is a moderate hike. This park is a special place and will have something of interest for nearly all tastes and types. It's a great destination for an outdoor family vacation as well.
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7.33 -, TN Hiking ratingStar
Alum Cave Bluffs Trail