The Great Smoky Mountains is one of America’s greatest treasures. Rising along the borders of North Carolina and Tennessee, it’s known for the diversity of its fauna and flora and remnants of original Native American culture. Over 12 million people visited the area in 2020.
There’s a good chance this number of visitors is going to increase. Thus, you want to start working on your trip plan now to maximize your fun. Here are 5 tips for planning your next smoky mountain adventure.
Get Away From The Hotel
A natural treasure like the Great Smoky Mountains requires more than a few nights in a hotel. You want to immerse yourself in its lush, cool environment. To do this, consider alternatives to chain accommodations.
Camping is a great idea, as there are thousands of available sites in and around the mountains. If that’s too rustic look at cabins. In Tennessee, there are Gatlinburg cabins for rent in places like Elk Springs Resort. You can also rent an RV and explore the world of luxury camping, otherwise known as glamping.
Decide The Means Of Exploration
Driving through the Great Smoky Mountains is one way to explore this area. A 32-mile road that traverses North Carolina and Tennessee journeys through various passes. The Newfound Gap Road takes drivers through picnic areas, streams, and scenic overlooks.
However, it’s better to step into the fresh air and explore the area through sight and smell. Hiking across the national park’s 400 miles of roads and trails is the best way to immerse yourself in the environment. Bicycling or horseback riding are also fine ways to see the mountain range from a different perspective.
Determine The Weather Conditions
Weather plays an important part to determine when you should travel to the Great Smoky Mountains. The best time to visit is from the late spring to the early summer. Temperatures in higher elevations range from the 50s to the 70s while lower elevations experience the 60s to the 90s.
Late fall and winter are unpredictable. Though the lower elevations feature milder temperatures, the mountains experience sub-freezing conditions with a great deal of snow. Overall, the area receives nearly 90 inches of rain during the warmer months.
Choose What Towns To Visit
There’s more to the Smoky Mountains than the peaks and valleys. The range is home to several towns that cater to the millions of people who traverse the area. Therefore, you might want to visit some or all of them.
The most well-known of these towns are Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. The former still retains a quirky small-town vibe despite being a tourist attraction. The latter is a more popular location thanks to historic places and the Dollywood amusement park.
Sevierville, Tennessee is an overlooked gem of a town. The original home to Dolly Parton has a life-size bronze statue of the singer-songwriter on the lawn of the courthouse. Those in search of a quieter experience should visit the smaller burgs of Crosby and Wears Valley in Tennessee and Bryson City in North Carolina.
Determine Your Budget
Nothing dampers a trip more than running out of money. It prevents you from doing things and possibly ending your vacation early. Prevent this by planning your budget ahead of time.
Of course, you want to prepare accordingly for accommodations, transportation, and food. Then, add entries for attraction costs and other sundries. Most likely, what you estimate might be too low, so up each amount about 10%. Additionally, include emergency funds to cover unforeseen issues.
As you see from the list above, there are several things required to plan your next Smoky Mountain adventure. Since it covers a vast expanse and contains dozens of attractions, this can’t be done on the fly. You might end up missing some excellent sites and food if you do.
Start planning now if you want to take a trip to this southeastern mountain range. Accommodations, including campsites, fill up fast. The quicker you take action the better your experience will be.
Finally, plan accordingly for the weather. You’ll pass through extremes no matter the season. Packing water-resistant clothing and shoes and dressing in layers helps avoid discomfort should the climate change without warning.