Changing leaves displaying a vibrant color of red, orange, and purple accompanied by cooler days indicates that autumn has arrived. Autumn is also the season to get out and explore our natural environment, whether for a day or weekend. This autumn, treat yourself to a getaway to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and experience a display of color like no other on earth. The park features more than 100 different varieties of trees displaying billions of leaves with rich shades of color.
However, there’s so much more to do and see that makes the park a perfect weekend getaway for both couples and families. Some of the activities offered by the national park include hiking, bicycling, auto tours, wildlife viewing, fishing, camping, visiting historical buildings, horseback riding, viewing waterfalls, and picnicking.
The best way to explore the Smoky Mountains is on foot, allowing for stunning views of the great variety of wildlife featured within the park. With approximately 850 miles of hiking trails, visitors will find many to choose from such as Charlies Bunion, Alum Cave Bluffs, Andrews Bald, Rainbow Falls, and Chimney Tops.
Camping out in the Smoky Mountains is an affordable way to spend time with the family while having fun in the great outdoors. Visitors have several options to choose which area of the park they prefer to camp out in. If you prefer a taste of the wilderness, consider camping out in the backcountry. For those of us less eager doing without certain amenities might want to choose the front country having access to running water and toilets.
As a matter of fact, there are so many more attractions and things to do within the Great Smoky Mountain National Park than most of us can fit into a weekend. That being said; here are a few attractions that should be on your list when visiting the park.
The Mountain Farm Museum displays one of the greatest collections of significant wood-framed structures. These magnificent 19th-century buildings have been moved from neighboring mountains and coves to replicate a typical farm of that time period.
The Fontana Dam might not be as famous as the Hoover Dam, but nevertheless an impressive site worth a visit. At a height of 480 feet, it is the tallest concrete dam east of the Rocky Mountains. With a reservoir capacity of 11,700 acres, the dam forms Fontana Lake with a shoreline of approximately 240 miles providing access to boats to remote areas of the park that can’t be reached with other modes of transportation.
At 6,643 feet above sea level, Clingmans Dome is the highest point in Tennessee and the 3rd tallest mountain east of the Mississippi River. Clingmans Dome Road offers visitors to the incredible scenery along the 7-mile stretch to the Visitors Center. From there, visitors can hike the half-mile path up to the summit’s observation tower for some of the most spectacular views of the Smokies. On a typical day, you can usually see up to 20 miles away, but on a clear day as far as the eye can see.
Should you need a break from nature, consider a visit to Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg that are nearby for some additional family fun. Dollywood is one of the top amusement parks in the country providing endless entertainment to people no matter what age. Hotels and restaurants are plentiful in both cities with additional discounts offered to families. Be sure to check out Ripley’s Believe It or Not Museum in Gatlinburg.