25 Ultimate Things to do in Great Smoky Mountains National Park (Tours Included)

Great Smoky Mountains National Park 1
Explore 25 things to do in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, from Gatlinburg tours to epic hikes.

Hey there, adventurers! Welcome to your guide on the top 25 things to do in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. This isn’t just another walk in the woods—it’s your all-access pass to fun and excitement in America’s most visited national park.

Think of Gatlinburg as your cozy mountain launchpad, with its belly-filling grubs and treasure trove of shops. It’s where the charm of the Smokies greets you with open arms.

Up for some action? Trek through misty trails, saddle up for a horseback journey, or pedal down a scenic bike path. More of a culture vulture? Dive into the heart of mountain traditions with tours that showcase the best in local arts and history.

And if you’re all about those panoramic views but not the huffing and puffing, we’ve got sightseeing tours that deliver the Smokies’ grandeur on a silver platter. Plus, for the trailblazers, there’s a 6-day hiking adventure that’ll have you bragging for years.

Ready to explore? Let’s get into the wild spirit of the Smokies and create some mountain-sized memories!

The Ultimate To Do List in the Smoky Mountains

Ascend Clingmans Dome’s spiraling ramp; witness the sprawling vistas at 6,643 feet, the park’s highest point – clouds below you, endless Smokies around you.

Chase the mist at Rainbow Falls, a 5.4-mile round trip hike; feel the cool spray as water cascades 80 feet into a shimmering, rainbow-streaked pool.

Enjoy a leisurely drive around Cades Cove Loop Road; encounter historic homes and churches amidst wildlife frolicking in the lush valleys of yesteryear’s settlers.

Catch the sky’s changing palette at Morton Overlook; the sun dips, colors explode, and the Smokies whisper goodnight in a spectacular mountainous sunset symphony.

Step back in time at Cataloochee Valley, wandering amongst elk and echoes of Appalachian history through preserved schools, churches, and homes of a bygone era.

Join a lantern-lit evening walk to Elkmont Ghost Town, where the whispers of old loggers and vacationers alike drift amongst the abandoned cabins and wildflowers.

Wildlife enthusiasts, ready your cameras for the majestic elk in Cataloochee; observe these regal creatures at dawn or dusk, grazing in the valley’s quietude.

Feel the forest’s heartbeat on a hike to Alum Cave; through old-growth trees and past intriguing geological features, you’ll be enveloped in the Smokies’ magic.

Witness synchronous fireflies, nature’s own light show, on a guided night walk in Elkmont; a sparkling dance that turns the forest into a fairy-tale setting.

Take the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail, a one-way loop road offering a deep dive into the park’s beauty, historic cabins, and rushing mountain streams.

Experience the thrill of whitewater rafting on the Pigeon River; splash through rapids and float along serene stretches with the forest canopy above you.

Embark on a guided horseback ride through lush trails; feel like a pioneer as you traverse streams and meadows with the Smokies’ grandeur guiding you.

Cycle the Cades Cove Loop on Wednesday mornings when it’s closed to vehicles; pedal in peace, with only wildlife and history as your companions.

Immerse in the park’s tranquility by fly fishing in its pristine streams; be lulled by the rhythm of casting and possibly catch a native brook trout.

Marvel at the Milky Way on a clear night at Newfound Gap; the stars blanket the sky, turning the park into a glittering dome of celestial wonder.

Soar through the treetops on a zipline adventure in the Smoky Mountains, where the rush of the wind and breathtaking views create an exhilarating experience.

Engage in a photographic safari; capture the Smokies’ diverse flora and fauna, from black bears to wildflowers, in their natural, undisturbed glory.

Trek the Appalachian Trail, even if just for a day; join the ranks of thru-hikers on iconic stretches, surrounded by the park’s stunning biodiversity.

Paddle peacefully on Fontana Lake, kayaking or canoeing; enjoy the tranquility of water reflecting the sky, with forested mountainsides enveloping you.

Attend a ranger-led program to learn about the park’s ecosystems; become an amateur naturalist as rangers share secrets of the Great Smoky Mountains.

Visit the Mountain Farm Museum to explore pioneer life; try your hand at blacksmithing or weaving, and meet farm animals in a pastoral setting.

Hike to Abrams Falls, where the water’s power is more impressive than its height; feel the ground vibrate beneath you at the waterfall’s base.

Go on a guided nocturnal walk to discover the park after dark; listen to the sounds of night creatures and learn about the stars overhead.

Take part in a “Wildflower Pilgrimage,” a springtime event celebrating the park’s diverse plant life; guided walks and talks reveal a rainbow of blooms.

Picnic at Chimney Tops picnic area before tackling the trail; afterwards, reward yourself with panoramic vistas and the satisfaction of conquering steep climbs.

Top Viator tours in Gatlinberg (Your Base)

You will probably base yourself in Gatlinburg, TN. The charming town that serves as the gateway to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, we have a range of options available to suit your interests.

Our base tour of Gatlinburg will take you through the town’s main streets, where you’ll be able to experience the local culture and learn about the area’s history. You’ll visit some of the town’s most iconic landmarks, such as the Gatlinburg Space Needle, the Gatlinburg SkyBridge, and the Ole Smoky Moonshine Distillery.

In addition, our guided tour includes stops at some of the town’s most popular attractions, such as the Gatlinburg Aquarium, the Gatlinburg Pinball Museum, and the Hollywood Star Cars Museum. You’ll have the chance to take in the town’s unique blend of natural beauty, cultural attractions, and entertainment options.

Top Cultural Viator Tours in the Great Smoky Mountains

Explore the rich art and culture of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park with our specially curated tours.

Top Outdoor Viator Tours in the Great Smoky Mountains

Our outdoor tours in Great Smoky Mountains National Park offer the perfect opportunity for adventurers to immerse themselves in the beauty of the park. With hiking, biking, and horseback riding options, our tours cater to all skill levels and interests. Let our experienced guides take you on an unforgettable journey.

Top Getyourguide tours in the Great Smoky Mountains

The Ultimate 6 day hike in the Great Smoky Mountains

For the ultimate hiking tour in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, we recommend the 10 Adventure’s 6-trail guided tour. This tour takes you on an exciting journey through some of the park’s most scenic trails, allowing you to experience the natural beauty of the park up close.


The 6-trail tour includes hikes to iconic locations such as Clingmans Dome, Mount LeConte, and Abrams Falls. Along the way, you’ll learn about the park’s history and ecology from our knowledgeable guides.

10 Adventure’s hiking tours are designed for all skill levels, from novice hikers to experienced trekkers. Our guides will tailor the experience to your interests and abilities, ensuring that you have a safe and enjoyable adventure in the park.

So if you’re looking for an unforgettable hiking tour in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, book the Whistling Oak’s 6-trail guided tour and get ready to experience the park like never before.

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