When you visit the Smoky Mountains sightseeing is probably at the top of your agenda. Set at the entrance to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Gatlinburg is the perfect headquarters to start your outdoor exploration. Whether you prefer the challenge of a difficult hike to the top of a mountain peak or prefer to auto tour to see the sights, Gatlinburg can make your Smoky Mountain vacation dreams come true.
So grab your camera and take advantage of these sightseeing opportunities in Gatlinburg:
For a fantastic overview of the Smoky Mountains, you can’t beat auto touring. With over 800 square miles encompassing the national park, there is a lot to see. Get behind the wheel and drive your way through the scenic roads of this pristine landscape. There are 384 miles of roads to choose from, each offering a variety of experiences including historic sites, panoramic vistas, meandering mountain streams and endless forests. You may even see a bear or two! Some of the most popular auto touring roads including Cades Cove Loop Road, Cataloochee Valley, Newfound Gap Road and Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail. Be sure to stop by a visitor center, such as the Sugarlands Visitor Center, to pick up an inexpensive booklet that will serve as your personal travel guide as you navigate the roads.
To get an up-close look at the natural wonders of the Great Smoky Mountains, lace up your hiking boots and hit the trails. Visitors to Gatlinburg can enjoy hiking the Smokies throughout the year, with each season offering its own unique rewards. Summertime offers hidden hideaways under the canopy of the forest, while spring is alive with blooming trees and wildflowers. Autumn is one of the most lauded seasons in the Smokies as the mountains are painted with a beautiful palette of fall colors. As the leaves of autumn fall, the winter season takes over offering unencumbered views of the mountains. The mountains are true delight with a sprinkling of snow, too. Choosing which trails to trek can be daunting. Two main questions you should consider include what you would like to see and how far you would like to hike. If waterfalls appeal to you Laurel Falls and Abrams Falls are popular options. Seeking endless scenic vistas? Try Clingmans Dome or Andrews Bald. If you’re a novice hiker, don’t plan on hiking more than five miles. That amount is a good distance that will allow you to have plenty of energy for more exploring the next day.
Gatlinburg is a veritable outdoor playground, teeming with a variety of activities set in the heart of the mountains. Take part in any of the outdoor activities available to see the sights of the Smokies in an all new way. Ziplining in Gatlinburg is a favorite, as visitors can harness up and zip through lush foliage, pass flowing waterfalls and view vistas you won’t see anywhere else. Another option is white water rafting. Gatlinburg rafting lets you take to the water for epic thrills, while horseback riding allows vacationers to gallop through mountains and valleys just like the settlers did.
For a birds-eye-view of the Great Smoky Mountains, you can’t beat a Gatlinburg helicopter trip or biplane ride. Companies like Scenic Helicopter Tours let you choose from flight paths featuring mountain peaks, lush valleys and the foothills of Gatlinburg. For another unique sky high experience take fight in a biplane. Sky High Air Tours offers nostalgic rides in open cockpit biplanes, perfect for enjoying those endless Smoky Mountain views. It’s more affordable than most people think too. For example, eight-mile helicopter trips start at just $25 per person.
Many Gatlinburg attractions are centered on the gorgeous sights of the Smokies. Hop on the Gatlinburg Sky Lift for an open air excursion to the top of Crockett Mountain, rated Gatlinburg’s best scenic overlook. You can also ride Ober Gatlinburg’s Aerial Tramway for a comfortable, climate controlled viewing of the Smoky Mountains. The Gatlinburg Space Needle, on the other hand, offers an observation deck for a 360 degree view of the Mountains. Free view finders enhance the sights. Plus, you ride to the top in glass elevators so you can get a glimpse of the city of Gatlinburg along the way.