The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the most visited national park in the United States. Straddling the border of Tennessee and North Carolina, the Smokies offer some of the most breathtaking natural beauty in the world. When you stay at Black Bear Inn & Suites in Gatlinburg, TN, you will be just a short drive from all of the top places to see in the Smoky Mountains. To help you make the most of your next vacation, we have put together a guide to four can’t-miss spots in the national park
1. Cades Cove
Cades Cove is the most popular section of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park – and it’s easy to see why! This incredibly picturesque valley is famous for its gorgeous mountain views, well preserved historic cabins, and spectacular wildlife viewing. Cades Cove is an especially good place to spot black bears, wild turkey, and whitetail deer, because, unlike much of the park, it is not densely forested and has plenty of wide open spaces. The cove’s 11-mile loop road stops at all of the valley’s major landmarks, making Cades Cove very easy to navigate.
Laurel Falls is another one of the top places to see in the Smoky Mountains. This beautiful 80-foot high waterfall takes its name from the mountain laurel, an evergreen shrub that grows around the falls in May. Laurel Falls is accessible via a lovely 2.6-mile roundtrip hike that takes about 2 hours to complete. The Laurel Falls Trail is paved and well maintained by the National Park Service. If you are hiking with children, be sure to keep a close eye on them, as the trail features some steep drop-offs and can be slippery after rainfall.
3. Clingmans Dome
Clingmans Dome offers some of the most incredible views in the national park. At 6,643 feet tall, the Clingmans Dome observation tower is the highest point in the state of Tennessee and the highest point along the entire Appalachian Trail. From atop this tower, visitors will enjoy unparalleled mountain vistas that can extend for over 100 miles on a clear day. Please note that Clingmans Dome is often 10 – 20 degrees cooler than the lower elevations of the mountains, so you may want to bring a jacket with you when you visit!
The Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail is a wonderful scenic drive that is located just minutes away from downtown Gatlinburg. This 5.5-mile one-way loop road runs along a bubbling mountain stream and features homesteads from centuries gone by, stunning foliage (especially in the fall), great wildlife viewing, a wet weather waterfall, and the trailheads for some of the park’s best hikes. The Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail is closed during the winter, but it is definitely worth a visit during the rest of the year.
Guests at Black Bear Inn & Suites will love being near all of the best places to see in the Smoky Mountains. Our hotel is located right in downtown Gatlinburg, just minutes away from all of the fun on the Parkway and in the national park. With a complimentary breakfast buffet each morning, enclosed heated pool, high-speed wireless internet access, and beautiful balcony views, Black Bear Inn & Suites has everything you need for an unforgettable vacation. To start planning your getaway, browse our selection of Smoky Mountain hotel rooms!