A popular vacation destination worldwide, the five hundred thousand-acre Smoky Mountains gets more than 10 million visitors each year. Located in the south-east U.S., this mountain range is a picture-perfect terrain of dense valleys, panoramic lookouts, and abundant flora and fauna.
A natural fog appearing as a large mass of smoke from afar exists over the mountains, hence the name “Smoky”. This fog or vapor is the result of high pressures possessed by volatile chemicals exhaled by the region’s vegetation. Waking up early in the mornings here will reward you with a picturesque sight of the Smokies “smoking”, as the fog hangs low at this time.
Nicknamed “Smokies”, the Smoky Mountains feature a massive, protected forest known as the Smoky Mountains National Park. Full of Southern charm, this park offers high-altitude observation towers with breathtaking views of the Smokies.
Knowing beforehand certain aspects of traveling here and also what all fun you could look forward to will help you plan the perfect vacation in the Smoky Mountains.
Here is the ultimate travel guide to the Smoky Mountains:
- When to travel:
Although each season brings along advantages and constraints, springtime and autumn are the nicest times for traveling. During the spring, the melted snow gives way to blooming flowers, offering picturesque views of the landscape down from the Smokies.
What’s more, if you’re traveling here in April, you can participate in the national park’s time-honored Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage. Take guided walks along grounds blanketed with more than thirty varieties of wildflowers!
Traveling to the Smoky Mountains in autumn or fall offers the unique experience of sights of leaves changing colors. With cooler temperatures during autumn, you can view plenty of elks and bears in the region.
Summertime offers fun-filled outdoor activities like hiking and fishing. However, it’s also the wettest season with July receiving maximum rainfall. Furthermore, abrupt summer storms frequently result in flash floods, causing landslides and road closures.
Come winter and you’re assured of a rare solitude in the Smoky Mountains. Experience the breathtaking scenery from some of the Smokies’ highest viewpoints.
Nevertheless, you ought to know that winter months bring heavy precipitation, creating large amounts of ice. So, this perpetual culprit in the winter season causes sudden road closures.
- How to pack right:
If you’re traveling here in summer, particularly, in July, it only makes sense to bring a rain jacket. Knitted clothing is a must for a winter holiday in the Smoky Mountains.
It’s also worthwhile considering what you’d like to do while holidaying in the Mountains. For instance, if exploring is on your mind, go for lightweight, comfortable clothes and sturdy walking shoes. For winter adventures like ice climbing at great heights, it’s best to pack in a pair of crampons and mountaineering boots.
Know well that electronic navigation goes haywire in the mountains. Don’t forget to carry a physical map and a compass, which serve as wonderful aids, especially hiking.
While packing toiletries, include a sunscreen, chapstick, and an insect repellent with your dental kit and hair combs. Make sure to carry all your prescription drugs and a well-equipped first-aid kit.
Ensure to keep yourself hydrated throughout the trip. Carry bottled water or a hydration reservoir, whatever suits you. Last but not least, carry nutritious, protein-rich snacks like almonds, raisins, and pumpkin seeds.
- What kind of accommodation to select:
You can choose from several options, ranging from backcountry campsites to homelike cabins to luxury hotels and lodges. Also, make sure to avail of excellent accommodation deals as well as discounts in the Smoky Mountains.
Backcountry campgrounds offer seclusion, picturesque mountain views, and an opportunity to watch elk grazing at close quarters. What’s more, you can take several uncrowded trails leading from the backcountry through a hardwood jungle.
If you’re longing for homelike comforts while vacationing in the Smokies, stay over in a cozy cabin. The mountain cabins come with several amenities, including hot tubs, fire pits, and swimming pools.
Offering everybody the ideal pillow, luxury hotels in the Smoky Mountains include historic properties as well as stylish boutique hotels. So, look forward to returning to nature while also enjoying 21st-century amenities.
- What to do:
- Hiking – Hike some of the most popular trails here, like Welch Ridge, Big Creek, and Swallow Fork. Admire the misty mountains, scenic waterfalls, and wildflower fields as you move through thick forest.
- Fishing – With vast streams flowing in the Smoky Mountains, you’ll find ample scope for fishing here, particularly, trout-fishing. For the maximum catch, head straight to the Lynn Camp Prong stream, where brook trout thrive in large numbers. Also, don’t miss out on Hazel Creek, the local angler’s favored spot for catching brown trout.
- Rafting – Take an outfitter-led rafting trip in the Smokies’ dam-controlled Pigeon River. Whether you’re looking to raft high-energy rapids or the gentle ones, you’re sure to have a great time here.
- What to eat and drink:
Dine at some of the remarkable spots in the vicinity of the park. With delicious regional Smoky Mountains fare like collard greens, beef stew, and dried apple stack cake, you’re sure to swing into action!
Savor longstanding popular Southern dishes at eateries in some of the mountain towns. For instance, don’t miss out on family-style cured meats, seafood platters, bison burger, and banana splits. How about tasting specialty wines at several excellent wineries in the Smokies?
If you’re staying in a cabin, you can also cook your meals. Cabins include full-featured kitchens just like yours at home. How about preparing some of the traditional mountain dishes with maybe a bit of your own style?
Now you know how to plan your holiday in the Smoky Mountains. Follow this travel guide and choose when to travel, what to pack, where to stay over, which activities to do, and what to savor. Rest assured, you’ll have an amazing trip!