RV Destination: Great Smoky Mountains National Park

An RVers Profile of Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Willard Clay/Photolibrary/Getty Images

Those in the eastern United States may feel like many of the great National Parks are on the other side of the Mississippi. There are plenty of great National Parks in the east including a park that sees more annual visitors than any other: Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Let’s look at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park including its history, things to do, places to go, and when the best to time to visit The Smokies is.

A Brief History of Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Great Smoky Mountains National Park is located in both Tennessee and North Carolina. The park is located among the Great Smoky Mountains. The Smokies are part of the Blue Ridge Mountains which is a part of the Appalachian Mountain range.

The creation of the Great Smokies came in part from residents tiring of their beautiful mountain views being clear cut by the timber industry. Tennessee and North Carolina residents, along with the US Government and millionaire John D. Rockefeller, began buying up portions of the land to be converted into a natural preserve. This patchwork finally came together when the US Congress chartered the land in 1934. President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the land into a National Park in 1940.

What to Do Once Your Arrive at Great Smoky Mountains National Park

This forested park covers more than half a million acres. There is a lot to see and do for every different type of visitor. Hiking is an old standby with any National Park and the Smokies are no different. If you’re one who likes a great view, we recommend hiking to some of the lookouts such as the Newfound Gap or Clingmans Dome.

If you are more of a wildlife lover you have your options for well, you can spot deer, turkey, birds and even black bears at several points including Cades Cove and the ever popular Cataloochee.

History buffs will enjoy exploring the different exhibits in the area including the Mountain Farm Museum. If you just want to hang out and be lazy, the Great Smoky Mountains has that too at Roaring Fork or Deep Creek.

At any moment at Great Smoky, you could be hiking, biking, swimming, kayaking, fishing, horseback riding, camping, viewing waterfalls or going on any number of ranger-guided tours and trips. If you have mobility issues no worries as you can access many portions of the Smokies by car, truck or RV.

If you want more than just the outdoors we suggest staying near the resort towns of Pigeon Forge or Gatlinburg. Not only are these areas close to the Smokies but they also have many other attractions including aquariums, museums, shopping, fine dining and even amusement parks. 

When to Go to Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Like we said before, Great Smoky Mountains National Park gets more annual visitors than any other National Park. If you want to beat the crowd, its best to try the shoulder seasons of Spring and Fall, especially Spring.

Why Spring and not Fall? Spring brings more than 1500 flowering plants into bloom at the park and the temperatures may be cool at times, but they are definitely manageable. Spring also brings the Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage, a week-long festival that highlights the diverse array of plants and animals at Great Smoky Mountains National Park. If you can’t get there in spring, fall brings some great autumnal foliage to drink in.

So to the RVers east of the Mississippi, you don’t have to travel out to Utah or Montana to enjoy some spectacular views and sights that are waiting right around the corner for you. Come on down, or up to Great Smoky Mountains National Park. And to our RVers out west, head east and enjoy all that this popular park has to offer.