25 Smoky Mountain Tours We Have Tested For You!

smoky mountains tour
Explore the best Smoky Mountain Tours with our expert-tested guide to adventure and discovery in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Get ready to buckle up and dive into the adventure of a lifetime with our hand-picked Smoky Mountain tours! Imagine cruising through the rugged beauty of America’s most beloved national park, without the guesswork of where to go or what to see. 

From the rolling mists to the echoing calls of the wild, let us be your compass to the very best of the Great Smoky Mountains.

Whether you’re gripping the wheel on a self-drive audio tour, bouncing along in a rugged Jeep, paddling through rapids, soaring above the treetops in a helicopter, or trekking the trails with an expert guide, we’ve scouted the top tours for you. 

These aren’t just any tours; they’re the golden ticket to behind-the-scenes stories, secret spots only locals know, and historical nuggets you won’t find on a plaque.

So, what’s on the agenda? We’ve got the inside track on the most thrilling guided rafting tours, the best routes for a hike through those hazy peaks, and even tips on how to gaze at the park from a bird’s eye view. 

Stick with us, and you’ll discover why these tours are not just trips but gateways to the soul of the Smokies.

The Possibilities 

Which guided tours are the best way to explore and experience the park?

Small-Group Jeep Tours

Perfect for those seeking both adventure and education. Traverse rugged terrains, access vantage points like the Foothills Parkway, and learn about the region’s geology, flora, and fauna.

Hiking and Nature Tours

Explore the thundering streams, cascading waterfalls, and old-growth forests with guided hiking tours such as the “Unplugged Waterfall Hike in the Smokies” or the “Clingmans Dome Hike.” Guides often share information on native plants, wildlife, and the park’s conservation efforts.

Overnight Backpacking

For the adventure seekers, immerse yourself in the wilderness with tours like “Overnight Backpacking in the Smokies.” Learn survival skills, stargaze without light pollution, and awaken to the chorus of nature.

Here is one we did over 6 days from 10adventures

Private Wildlife Tours

Experience the park’s rich biodiversity up close. Guides, armed with spotting scopes and a wealth of knowledge, help you sight and understand the behavior of various animals, including black bears, elk, and various bird species.

Also Read:

Aerial Tours

For a bird’s eye view of the majestic mountains, valleys, and water bodies, helicopter tours such as the “Ridge Runner Smoky Mountain Helicopter Tour”; and get exhilarating perspectives that few get to experience.

Lets deep dive into a few we have been on and our recommendations! 

Self-Drive and Audio Tours

Self-Drive and Audio Tours are designed for travelers who prefer the freedom to explore at their own pace while still benefiting from guided insights. 

Instead of following a group or guide, visitors drive themselves through designated routes, often equipped with audio recordings or apps that provide detailed commentary about various points of interest. 

This type of tour merges the independence of solo exploration with the knowledge of a guided experience. 

As travelers reach specific landmarks or sites, the audio guide offers stories, historical context, and interesting facts, ensuring an enriching journey without the constraints of a scheduled group tour.

Here are 7 we recommend from our partners!

Guided Jeep and Van Tours

Guided Jeep and Van Tours offer travelers an immersive adventure through rugged terrains and scenic landscapes, all under the expert guidance of seasoned tour operators. 

These vehicles, designed for both comfort and capability, allow guests to access off-the-beaten-path locations that regular cars can’t reach. 

Accompanied by knowledgeable guides, participants learn about the region’s history, ecology, and unique features as they traverse diverse environments. 

Jeep tours often add an element of thrill, navigating rocky trails and steep inclines, while van tours provide a more communal experience, perfect for groups or families. 

Both options deliver a mix of education, exploration, and exhilaration, making them popular choices for many adventurers.

Guided Rafting Tours

Rafting on the Pigeon River offers a thrilling aquatic adventure set against the backdrop of the majestic Smoky Mountains. 

The river, with its varied rapids, caters to both adrenaline junkies and those seeking a more relaxed float. 

Participants navigate a series of rapids, ranging from calm waters suitable for families to challenging white-water sections that test the skills of even seasoned rafters. 

Guided by experienced instructors, rafters learn to maneuver the currents, ensuring a safe and exhilarating experience. 

Beyond the adrenaline rush, the journey also provides breathtaking views of the surrounding forested landscapes and opportunities to spot local wildlife, making it a must-do activity in the region.

We recommend the following starting from Hartford! 

Helicopter Tours 

Helicopter tours provide an unparalleled aerial perspective of landscapes, allowing guests to soar above scenic vistas and iconic landmarks. 

These tours offer a unique vantage point, revealing the breathtaking beauty of regions often inaccessible or less appreciated from the ground. 

With the gentle hum of rotors, passengers experience the thrill of flight while safely secured in modern aircraft piloted by trained professionals. 

As landscapes unfurl below, guides often provide insightful commentary on the geography, history, and significance of the areas being observed. 

Perfect for photographers, adventure seekers, or anyone wishing to witness a destination’s grandeur from a bird’s-eye view, helicopter tours are a memorable and exhilarating experience.

Guided Hiking Tours

Guided hiking tours are an immersive way to explore natural landscapes, led by knowledgeable guides familiar with the trails, flora, fauna, and local lore. 

These tours cater to varying fitness levels, from leisurely walks to challenging treks, ensuring everyone can participate. 

As hikers traverse diverse terrains, guides provide insights into the ecosystem, point out native plants, and share stories about the region’s history and culture. 

Often, these tours grant access to hidden gems: secluded waterfalls, panoramic viewpoints, or ancient ruins, which might be easily overlooked when hiking alone. 

Guided hikes not only ensure safety but also enrich the experience through education and genuine connection to the environment.



Selecting the right tour means merging one’s passion with the essence of a destination, ensuring memories that linger. As you embark on your next adventure, let the essence of the experience resonate, and savor each moment to its fullest.

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