A Traveler’s Guidebook to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park: Part 1

Jun 02, 2015

Get away for a while, and stay with Heartland Cabin Rentals! There are so many different things to do in Gatlinburg, but try breaking away from downtown and exploring the hills, trails and waters of the Smoky Mountains. Listen closely, and the Smokies will whisper her secrets to you. Retreat in one of our Gatlinburg cabin rentals and explore the Smokies at your pace. Our cabins in Gatlinburg are quietly nestled in the hills and valleys of the Smoky Mountains, offering our guests an incredible, first-hand experience of life in these hills. Have your fill of all things "Smoky Mountains" with our helpful National Park Guide. We will present our National Park Guide to you in two parts. Stay tuned for part 2!Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Experience the Smokies on Two Wheels: Biking

Take yourself for a spin in the Smoky Mountains and glide by beautiful foliage, mountain views, and wildlife. The Cades Cove Loop opens up to cyclists on Wednesday and Saturday mornings until 10 A.M. now through late September, so cyclists can enjoy the free and open road without the worries of visitors partaking in auto touring. Take your time as you pedal through the 11-mile Cades Cove Loop and listen to nature, passing 19th-century structures. There are no mountain biking trails as the terrain is too rough. Besides Cades Cove Loop, cyclists can enjoy riding along the Gatlinburg Trail. Other areas suitable for biking are Greenbrier Trail and the Tremont areas of the park.

Waterfalls, Streams and Cascades 101

The waterfalls of the Smoky Mountains are majestic in nature. There are over 200,000 visitors that walk the trail of the Smokies to witness their cascading beauty. The Smoky Mountains are home to over 2,000 miles of natural springs that make up these beautiful waterfalls, streams, and cascades. The waterfalls gain on the upwards of 100 feet in height and can be quite small, yet forceful. It is important to practice safety precautions when visiting any of the water areas of the Smoky Mountains. Please refrain from climbing falls as the rocks are slippery with moss and mist.

Witness the Magic of the Synchronous Fireflies

The Smoky Mountains are proud to be the American home of the synchronous fireflies. Fireflies, also known as lightning bugs, are a species of beetle that produce bioluminescence from the abdomen. The synchrony performed by the fireflies is a mating ritual. The only two places known for the synchronous flow are in Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Southeast Asia. Many scientists believe their synchrony is a type of competition to win over the females. You will experience a wave or a well-grouped glow followed by a period of darkness.

The Famous Smoky Mountain Black Bear

Great Smoky Mountains National Park allows black bears to roam freely in a natural habitat. Black bears vary in size, but usually are about three feet tall when on all fours, stretching over 6 feet in length and can average around 250 pounds. Practice safety if you encounter a black bear. Do not approach or feed the bears, mothers are always a few steps behind their cubs. Bears are omnivores, and about 85 percent of their diet is plant and nut based.

Boastful Blooms of the Smokies: Unique, Rare Wildflowers

Great Smoky Mountains National Park is well known for its diverse union of wildflowers in the hills and valleys of Appalachia. The Smokies carry over 1,500 different types of wildflowers, lending to its nickname "Wildflower National Park". The Smoky Mountains have wildflowers in bloom year-round for our viewing pleasure.

Auto Touring Is A Leisurely Way To View the Smoky Mountains

Auto touring in the Smoky Mountains has been all the rage for many years. Great Smoky Mountain National Park offer over 800 miles of utterly picturesque terrain. The mountains are preserved and offer the most beautiful scenes and experiences while traveling through. There are about 384 different roads to choose from, ranging in mostly paved roads and some made of gravel. Always check for weather related closings and any construction for preservation going on in the park prior to traveling. Always be prepared with a travel map and a full tank of gas.

Spend the Afternoon Picnicking in Mountain Splendor

There are several picnic area to choose from in the area. Areas include Chimneys, Cades Cove, Collins Creek, Big Creek, Deep Creek, Greenbrier, Metcalf Bottoms and others. Most picnic areas will have picnic pavilions available for rent and freestanding grills. For your safety, do not under any circumstances feed wildlife of any kind, especially bears.

How To Beat The Crowd

Avoid the crowd while traveling in the Smoky Mountains by visiting during the off season. If you decide to travel during peak season, such as leaf season, try to begin your day early and beat the traffic while the visitor areas are quiet and less congested.

Hiking in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

There are over 800 glorious miles of hiking options in the Smokies. All hiking options are based on duration and skill level. Be aware of your surroundings and pack accordingly. Bring any tools for emergency situations to be well prepared for your safety. Hike in pairs or groups, keep a trail map and a flashlight on you at all times. Bring nonperishable foods to nourish and sustain you on your hike and clean drinking water.

All the beauty and splendor of the Smokies can be yours. Spend your next getaway with Heartland Cabin Rentals at one of our premier cabins in Gatlinburg. Stay tuned for National Park Guide Part 2.

Category: Area Information

Doug Shanks


By Doug Shanks a Smoky Mountain blogger and writes about things to do in Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, Wears Valley, and Sevierville, Tennessee. Area interests include hiking, fishing, whitewater rafting, shopping, and family fun.

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