Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Great Smoky Mountain National Park Sunset at Climgmans Dome #vezzaniphotographySunset at Clingmans Dome, Great Smoky Mountains

Great Smoky Mountains National Park can be summed up in three words:  “It’s worth it!”  If you love nature, hiking, and photography, then this National Park has it all!  With over 11 million visitors last year, according to National Geographic, Great Smoky Mountains National Park has ranked #1 as the most widely visited US National Park year after year.  It’s no wonder why!  Minutes from Dollywood and Gatlinburg, Tennessee, the park quickly transports you into another world.  Upon entering the National Park, dense forests surround you.  Scenic byways take you atop stunning mountain vistas.  Hidden hiking trails lead you past cascading waterfalls deep within black bear country.  All in all, this park does not disappoint!

Great Smoky Mountain National Park Hike to Grotto Falls #vezzaniphotographyGrotto Falls, Great Smoky Mountains National Park

In addition to beautiful mountain vistas and waterfalls, Great Smoky Mountains National Park also contains amazing biodiversity.

The National Park Service claims that with its “over 800 square miles in the Southern Appalachian Mountains, no other area of equal size in a temperate climate can match the park’s amazing diversityOver 19,000 species have been documented in the park and scientists believe an additional 80,000-100,000 species may live here.”  About 1,000 of these documented species have only been found in this National Park and nowhere else in the world.  That’s pretty amazing!

Great Smoky Mountain National Park Hike to Grotto Falls #vezzaniphotographyMisty Morning on the Trillium Gap Trail, Great Smoky Mountains

As with all the National Parks, you could spend a lifetime in Great Smoky Mountains National Park and still not see it all.  That said, there is plenty that can be done!  No matter how much time you have, Great Smoky Mountains National Park is sure to capture your heart.  Here are some tips to help make your visit to Great Smoky Mountains National Park a good one!

Great Smoky Mountains National Park Details & Location

Location: Tennessee & North Carolina | Area: 816.28 mi²| Established: June 15, 1934 | Visitors: 11,338,894 (in 2017)

Directions:  Great Smoky Mountains National Park is located in Tennessee and North Carolina.  While there are several entrances, the main attractions are located along the Newfound Gap Road.  I would enter Great Smoky Mountains National Park via Gatlinburg, TN from the north or via Cherokee, NC from the south, along US-441.  As both Tennessee and North Carolina share this National Park, there is no fee to enter.  Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, and Sevierville, TN all offer plenty of sleeping accommodations and eating establishments.

I only have a few hours to visit Great Smoky Mountains National Park:

If you only have a few hours to visit Great Smoky Mountains National Park, here are my top recommendations for must-see attractions:

I have a day to visit Great Smoky Mountains National Park:

If you have a full day to visit Great Smoky Mountains National Park, then I recommend the following:

I want to live at Great Smoky Mountains National Park:

If you have more than a day at Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the opportunities are countless!  Here are some options for things you can do:

Best Sunrise Locations along Newfound Gap Road at Great Smoky Mountains National Park

If you can wake up early enough, catching the sunrise at Great Smoky Mountains National Park is worth it! But it only lasts for a short amount of time, so you want to choose your location ahead of time. I did my research and asked about sunrise locations at the Sugarlands Visitor Center. According to a park ranger there, the best sunrise locations at Great Smoky Mountains National Park along Newfound Gap road are the following:

Best Sunset Locations along Newfound Gap Road at Great Smoky Mountains National Park

In addition to amazing sunrises, sunsets at Great Smoky Mountains National Park are spectacular! I spoke with a park ranger to get the inside scoop, and he told me that the best sunset locations at Great Smoky Mountains National Park along Newfound Gap road are the following:

I hope you get the opportunity to visit Great Smoky Mountains National Park for yourself.  If not, at least you can see it through my photos!  Thanks for reading and sharing my adventures with me!

Happy travels!

Juventa Vezzani

One of my bucket list items is to visit all 60 National Parks!  For detailed posts about my adventures, click here!

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Want to see more?  Here is a list of articles that I have written to help you further explore Great Smoky Mountains National Park: