When you come to the Great Smoky Mountains, you probably want to spend some time outdoors. The national park doesn’t have an entrance fee, and the scenery is absolutely breathtaking. We want to share some of the top things you can enjoy in the Smokies out in nature! Check out these top 3 things to enjoy in nature in the Great Smoky Mountains:
1. Waterfalls, Creeks, and Rivers
One of the top things people love seeing in the mountains are creeks, rivers, and waterfalls. There aren’t many like the ones we have in the Smokies, so they are worth seeing when you are visiting! There are several areas when you can enjoy exploring creeks, such as Cades Cove picnic area and Metcalf Bottoms picnic area. After you eat a picnic lunch, the kids can play in the water! There are several creeks that are along hiking trails as well. The Gatlinburg Trail follows along a river, and you actually have to use a footbridge to cross the river to continue along the trail. Many trails that have creeks and rivers eventually lead to waterfalls, such as Grotto Falls, Rainbow Falls, and Cataract Falls. If you just want to enjoy seeing the river but don’t want to hike, you can drive along Little River Road since it follows a mountain river!
2. Native Plants
Native plants bring people to the Great Smoky Mountains several times throughout the year. In the spring and summer, wildflowers are in full bloom. There’s even a whole event dedicated to seeing the wildflowers! Some of the most popular include rhododendron, mountain laurel, and flame azaleas. If you are out hiking, you might see all kinds of native plants, from shrubs to fungi. You never know what you might spot while you’re out on the trails! And, of course, we can’t forget the biggest draw in the fall: the changing colors of the leaves! The fall is a busy time in the Smokies because leaves are going from green to red, orange, and yellow.
Another popular thing people want to enjoy in nature in the Smokies is wildlife. There’s no guarantee you will see animals when you’re in the national park, but there’s a pretty good chance if you know where and when to go. Black bears are the park’s most popular wildlife. If you’re hoping to see these creatures, you should head to Cades Cove, Roaring Fork Motor Trail, or along hiking trails. White tailed deer are most likely to be seen early in the morning or before the sun sets. Cades Cove and other empty fields are a good place to look for these creatures. Reptiles and amphibians such as turtles and salamanders will most likely be near water sources since they are damp and cool. Birds and squirrels are virtually everywhere throughout the park all throughout the day.
There are several things you can enjoy in nature when you visit the Great Smoky Mountains. Since you already know you want to visit the national park, you may be wondering what else you can do when you stay with us. Look at these top Smoky Mountain attractions for more ideas of what you can do when you’re in town!