aerial view of treetops
Area Information

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

river surrounded by autumn colors

America’s Most-Visited National Park

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the largest federally protected land area east of the Mississippi River. With over 500,000 acres of forest, this national park contains an enormous variety of plants and animals.

Families and individuals enjoy hiking on the more than 800 miles of trails that guide hikers to cascading waterfalls, beautiful vistas, and quiet meadows. These trails wind through deep forests, on high ridges, and along rushing streams. Quiet walkways serve as the perfect avenue for you to get out into the wilderness on an easy stroll. You can also take in some of Mother Nature’s best work from the comfort of your car. There are so many scenic drives you can explore to see the majestic mountain views and immerse yourself in nature. Many of these roads have spots where you can pull off to capture the moment in a photograph.

No trip to the Smoky Mountains is complete without a picnic in the woods. Some of the national park’s official picnic areas can be found at Chimney Tops, Cades Cove, Cosby, Greenbrier, Look Rock, and Metcalf Bottoms, all of which are open year round. These locations typically have outdoor grills for charcoal cooking as well as plenty of picnic tables. All have outdoor pavilions (which must be reserved in advance for a fee) except Chimney Tops and Cades Cove.

Although Cades Cove’s official picnic area is located near the entrance to the 11-mile one-way loop, you may also enjoy finding a scenic spot somewhere along the drive to spread out a blanket on the ground for a leisurely meal. In these cases, no cooking of any kind is allowed. Regardless of where you picnic in the park, you need to observe all posted rules about garbage disposal and extinguishing cooking fires. And, as always, never feed the wildlife or leave any food supplies where the bears can get to them.

Don't miss your chance to explore this beautiful park while you're in the area!