5 Popular Places to Visit in the Smoky Mountains

November 10, 2022

It’s no surprise that the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the most visited national park in the country. The number of visitors has steadily climbed over the years, and you may wonder where people go when they’re in the park. There are plenty of cool things to see, and we want to share some of the most visited spots with you! Check out these 5 popular places to visit in the Smoky Mountains.

1. Cades Cove

missionary baptist church in cades cove in the great smoky mountains national parkThe most-visited destination in the entire park is Cades Cove. This is a small valley surrounded by mountains, and it’s fairly popular because of the scenery, wildlife spotting opportunities, and historic spots along the drive. Visitors are able to stop anywhere along the 11-mile loop road, so you can get out and explore the buildings. There are old homesteads, barns, and churches that were built hundreds of years ago. People also like to stop and take photos of the scenery, their families, and wildlife, if they appear! While there’s no guarantee you’ll see any animals, Cades Cove is one of the best places to spot them because of the open fields.

2. Laurel Falls

One of the most popular places to visit in the Smoky Mountains is Laurel Falls. The waterfall is impressive, but it’s also well liked because the trail to get there is considered easy. Instead of tripping over rocks and roots, you get to follow a paved path up the side of the mountain. At the end of the trail, you’ll see the impressive waterfall. Laurel Falls stands at 80 feet tall, and it is separated into 2 tiers. Visitors can walk across a man made bridge and take pictures in front of the falls before they head back down.

3. Roaring Fork Motor Trail

roaring fork motor trail in the great smoky mountainsAnother scenic drive that’s favored in the Smokies is Roaring Fork Motor Trail. Located right outside of downtown Gatlinburg, this is a fantastic place to explore. You’ll be able to see a waterfall from your vehicle known as The Place of a Thousand Drips. There are also several trailheads off of this road, including Grotto Falls and Rainbow Falls. Near the end of the drive, you can stop and explore the Noah “Bud” Ogle property, which includes two cabins and a mill on the creek.

4. Clingmans Dome

Clingmans Dome is a pretty unique place to visit in the Smoky Mountains. This landmark is located near the Tennessee and North Carolina border, so visitors from both states enjoy seeing it. Clingmans Dome is an observation tower that was constructed years ago, and it is the tallest point in the national park. On a clear day, you can see over 100 miles away from the top of the tower. Even when you can’t, the views are breathtaking. The trail is paved, and it is 1 mile round trip. Some people consider the trail to the tower easy, but it is steep, making it unconducive for strollers and wheelchairs.

5. Newfound Gap

newfound gap in the smoky mountains
Scenic drives are pretty popular in the Smoky Mountains since many people aren’t able to hike the trails. Newfound Gap is another popular drive, and it runs from Gatlinburg, Tennessee to Cherokee, North Carolina. Along the way, you’ll take in incredible mountain views any time of the year. There are several places where you can get out to appreciate the view or hike one of the trails, if you want.

These popular places to visit in the Smoky Mountains are favored for good reason. They are absolutely beautiful and unique, so you won’t find anything quite like them anywhere else. We know you’ll have a blast exploring the national park when you stay with us, but what else will you do? Check out our Freedom Fun Pass to see what other attractions you want to do!