Great Smoky Mountains Travel Guide: 2 Days Exploring the National Park


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Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the most visited park in the United States, drawing people from all over the country to explore this stunning area.

Amie and I got a chance to visit in early May, and we had a great time driving all over the park over two days while visiting many of the famous attractions like Rainbow Falls, Cades Cove, and Clingmans Dome. We can’t wait to revisit the park and explore more.

What kind of wildlife can visitors expect to see while exploring the national park?

Great Smoky Mountains Travel Guide: 2 Days Exploring the National Park

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a paradise for nature lovers, hikers, and wildlife enthusiasts. With over 800 miles of trails and a diverse landscape ranging from lush forests to cascading waterfalls, this national park is like no other. In this travel guide, we will take you on a two-day exploration of the park, highlighting the must-see attractions and the best hiking trails.

Day 1: Cades Cove and Clingmans Dome

On the first day of your trip, begin by heading to Cades Cove–a picturesque valley located at the foot of the Great Smoky Mountains. It is a popular spot for visitors to explore, with a scenic 11-mile loop road that passes through historic buildings, open fields, and dense woodlands. The road is open from dawn to dusk, and visitors can bike, hike, or drive to discover the area.

Along the route, make sure to stop at the Cable Mill Historic Area, where you can see the restored grist mill and learn about the area’s agriculture history. You can also visit the Cades Cove Visitor Center to get an overview of the park and pick up maps, books and other useful information.

After spending the morning at Cades Cove, head to Clingmans Dome, the highest point in the park. The observation tower offers stunning 360-degree views of the surrounding mountains and valleys, as well as a unique perspective on the cloud cover that often blankets the upper elevations. The hike to the tower is steep, but the trail is short and paved, making it accessible to visitors of all ages and abilities. At the top, take in the remarkable views and watch the sunset before heading back to your accommodation.

Day 2: Hiking and Waterfalls

On the second day of your trip, set out to explore some of the park’s stunning hiking trails. There are over 800 miles of trails in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, so you will have plenty of options to choose from. Here are two of the best hikes to consider:

First, visit the Rainbow Falls trailhead, a 5.5-mile roundtrip hike that passes through old-growth forest and ends at a stunning 80-foot waterfall. The hike is moderately difficult, with a steady incline and several switchbacks, but the views are worth the effort.

Alternatively, head to the Abrams Falls trailhead, a 5-mile roundtrip hike that follows the Abrams Creek through thick forests and ends at a beautiful 20-foot waterfall. This intermediate trail offers a chance to see abundant wildlife, including deer, black bear, and wild turkeys.

Before leaving, make sure to visit Sugarlands Visitor Center, located at the park entrance. Here you can learn about the park’s history and ecology, as well as pick up maps, brochures and other resources.

In Conclusion

A two-day trip to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is just enough time to experience some of the park’s stunning natural beauty, historic sites, and wildlife viewing opportunities. Whether you are an avid hiker or prefer a gentle stroll, there is something for everyone in this incredible national park. So, pack your bags, hit the trails and discover the wonders of the Smokies for yourself.

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