Great Smoky Mountains

8 min read

Sugarlands Visitor Center
1420 Fighting Creek Gap Rd, Gatlinburg, TN 37738

Near Gatlinburg, TN, Sugarlands Visitor Center is an excellent starting point as you enter the park’s North District. Learn about the park’s plants and animals with natural history exhibits. Enjoy ranger-led programs conducted seasonally. Peruse the park bookstore and shop. Access public restrooms and drink vending machines. The Backcountry Permit Office is here, too.


Become A Junior Ranger
Same as Sugarlands Visitor Center

Junior Rangers are critical to the success of the National Park Service’s to protect special places and stories. Junior Rangers are learners and leaders. There’s a lot of ways to be a great Junior Ranger; whether you teach others about keeping a safe distance from wildlife, or by learning more and more about the world around you. ….However you want to be your best Junior Ranger, we have a variety of options to get you started.


Cataract Falls Trail
Cove Mountain Trail, Gatlinburg, TN 37738

If you’re looking for a short, simple hike, then you should go on the Cataract Falls Trail in the Smoky Mountains. The path is easily laid out, making it pretty simple to follow. It’s considered easy, so it is perfect for small children and older adults.


Laurel Falls Trail
No address, directions on website below:

As in decades past, you’ll still find a lot of families with young children on this extremely popular trail. […] Roundtrip, the hike to Laurel Falls and back is 2.3 miles in total length. Hikers will climb roughly 314 feet in elevation before arriving at the 80-foot waterfall. The hike is well worth it though – Laurel Falls is very photogenic, and is widely considered to be one of the best waterfall hikes in the Smokies. The waterfall consists of an upper and a lower section, divided by a walkway which crosses the stream (Laurel Branch) at the base of the upper falls. The falls receives its name from the mountain laurel that blooms along the trail and near the falls in May.


Cades Cove
No address, directions on website below:

Cades Cove is an isolated valley located within the Tennessee side of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Cades Cove sees about 2 million visitors each year and is the most visited area within the park. However, Cades Cove started out only as a seasonal hunting camp for the Cherokee Indians. The site later grew as settlers made their home in the area. The homes of many settlers are still located within Cades Cove and are open for visitors to explore. In 1934, Cades Cove along with the rest of the Smoky Mountains became protected the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Cades Cove is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. This is just a brief history of Cades Cove, but there are many more amazing things to learn about Cades Cove history.


Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail
No address, directions on website below:

No trip to Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail is complete without getting a history lesson by visiting the old cabins, barns and working tub mills that have been preserved and restored. See the early settlers’ ingenuity firsthand at the Noah “Bud” Ogle homestead. The one-time Ogle farm features a handcrafted wooden flume plumbing system as well as one of the few working tub mills still in existence. The historic district of Roaring Fork includes the Jim Bales place, the Ephraim Bales place, and the Alfred Reagan place.

Before you head back to town, remember to pull into Ely’s Mill to score a jar of delicious honey. You’ll also find locally-made antiques and crafts that make for fun keepsakes and presents, as well as cabins available for rent.


Smoky Mountain Outdoors Rafting
3299 Hartford Road
Hartford, TN 37753

Enjoy frothy waves and contagious laughter as you travel down the Pigeon River white water rafting and building memories your loved ones will cherish. Many families with small children wonder whether they can participate because of the rapids, but, here in the Smoky Mountains, you have no reason to wonder because we have safe options for all ages. You can take your vacation to the next level and experience Smoky Mountain white water rafting for kids like never before! Find out more about how Smoky Mountain white water rafting is great for kids of all ages.


Smoky Mountains Pink Jeep Tours
2611 Parkway
Pigeon Forge, TN 37863

See the Smokies like never before from the back of a custom, open-air Pink Jeep® Wrangler. Our local, certified adventure guides bring the history and magic of the mountains to life and our Smoky Mountain tours offer hidden gems around every bend. Several include a thrilling, 4×4 off-road adventure.


Gatlinburg SkyLift Park
765 Parkway, Gatlinburg, TN 37738

Ride the yellow chairlift to the best views in Gatlinburg and cross the record-breaking SkyBridge, the longest pedestrian cable bridge in North America. After your walk across SkyBridge, take a hike along the SkyTrail and climb Tulip Tower to the observation area. Relax and take in the view from the SkyDeck amphitheater. Shop in the SkyCenter for souvenirs and grab a meal. At Night, take the SkyLift to a unique nighttime experience in Gatlinburg. View the twinkling lights of downtown Gatlinburg from the SkyBridge and sit by the firepit.

CBS News reports that Gatlinburg SkyBridge made the 2022 Google “Year in Search” list as one of Top 10 Most Scenic Spots in U.S. Come discover the Best Views of the Great Smoky Mountains! SkyPark is a family tradition and the longest running attraction in Gatlinburg. Start your family tradition today.


Little River Railroad/Lumber Museum
7747 E Lamar Alexander Pkwy,
Townsend, TN 37882

The Little River Railroad and Lumber Company is a non-profit corporation founded in 1982 to preserve the heritage of the Little River Lumber Company and the Little River Railroad. We operate a museum in Townsend, Tennessee, collecting, preserving, and exhibiting the history of these companies, and of the people in this region.

Admission is FREE donations appreciated.


Townsend Heritage Center
123 Cromwell Dr,
Townsend, TN 37882

Connect with the spirit and history of Townsend, Cades Cove, and the Great Smoky Mountains. Our museum offers something for everyone, from hands-on activities to tours of original 19th-century buildings and our Cherokee Native American Collection. Our Educational Programming, Summer Concert Series, and Festivals & Special Events round out the rich cultural experience to be found at the GSM Heritage Center.


Douglas Dam
Douglas Dam Road Between Sevierville and Kodak, TN

Douglas Dam is on the French Broad River in East Tennessee. The reservoir extends 43 miles upriver from the dam through the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains. Set as it is against the backdrop of the Smokies, Douglas Reservoir is a popular recreation destination known for picnicking, camping, boating, and fishing. Douglas and other TVA dams built during World War II made a historical contribution by providing hydropower to drive the war effort. The reservoir remains an integral unit in the overall water control system in the Tennessee Valley.

Birdwatchers enjoy the fall migration of shore birds, wading birds, and other waterfowl flock to Douglas from late July to early October. The birds rest and feed on the muddy shoreline and in areas of shallow water exposed as the reservoir level is lowered to winter flood control levels.


Big Rock Dude Ranch at Ponderosa LLC
909 Little Cove Rd, Pigeon Forge, TN 37863

Looking for horseback riding in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge? Big Rock Dude Ranch at Ponderosa is the Gatlinburg / Pigeon Forge area’s premier horseback riding and outdoor adventure destination. Located just a short drive from Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg, enjoy horse back riding in the Smoky Mountains year round (weather permitting) seven days a week from 9:00 am until 5:00 pm.

If you are looking for an escape from the usual tourist traps, a family outing the kids won’t forget, a group or reunion activity, or just a chance to try horseback riding in the Smoky Mountains, Big Rock Dude Ranch at Ponderosa is the place to go.