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3 Day Smoky Mountain Itinerary for Your Next Trip

Great Smoky Mountains National Park
September 14, 2022

Everyone should visit the Great Smoky Mountains National Park at least once. While you could spend months here trying to do everything there is to do and see in the park, we know you just have a short trip planned. So what can you pack into 3 days? Keep reading our Smoky Mountain itinerary to see what kind of fun you can have on your next 3-day trip to the Smokies.

Day One

1. Take a Photo With the Park Sign

great smoky mountains national park sign

Your first stop in the national park should be at the national park sign. If you take the Gatlinburg entrance into the Great Smoky Mountains, you’ll spot the park sign not too far down the road. Many people get out and take a photo with the sign to commemorate their trip, and you should too!

2. Hike Laurel Falls Trail

After you get your photo, keep driving to get to one of the most popular hiking trails in the area. Laurel Falls Trail is an easy trail since it is paved and has a round trip length of 2.3 miles. At the end of your hike, you’ll come up on the gorgeous, 80-foot-tall Laurel Falls!

3. Drive Roaring Fork Motor Trail

roaring fork motor trail next to a river

The next stop on your Smoky Mountain itinerary should be Roaring Fork Motor Trail. Just a short drive outside of downtown Gatlinburg, this scenic drive is one you don’t want to miss. It’s a 5.5-mile loop road that features historic buildings you can walk through, several hiking trails, a waterfall you can see from the car, and so much more!

Want to spend even more time in the Smokies? Check out our Gatlinburg itinerary!

Day Two

1. Explore the Cades Cove Loop

One of the most popular places to visit in the Great Smoky Mountains is Cades Cove . You definitely can’t miss seeing this incredible valley hidden in the midst of the mountains. This scenic drive is 11 miles, and you can even cut the ride short if you don’t want to travel the entire loop. Along the way, you can stop anywhere to take photos, look at wildlife, and explore historic areas.

2. Enjoy Lunch at the Picnic Area

charcoal grill at a picnic area in cades cove

After you explore this stop along your Smoky Mountain itinerary, stop at the Cades Cove Picnic Area and enjoy your picnic lunch you packed that morning! Your whole crew will have a blast making burgers and hot dogs on the charcoal grills at the picnic sites, or you can just enjoy a sandwich or any other food you like! After you eat, let the kids play in the creek and explore the area on foot. Oh, and be sure to use the restroom before you head out!

3. Drive By Miegs Falls

As you make your way back to town, you’ll drive through the mountains and have gorgeous views all along the ride. Located about 18 miles after you leave Cades Cove, you might just spot a waterfall between the trees. This is Miegs Falls, and you can actually park the car and snap a photo!

4. Stop and See The Sinks

the sinks in the great smoky mountains national park

Right after Miegs Falls is another spot you’ll want to stop at. The small parking lot area leads to a beautiful view of The Sinks, a huge cascade located on the Little Pigeon River. People love taking photos of the area, and you might see people hiking trails nearby. This is a spot you’ll definitely want to see before you head back to your cabin.

Day Three

1. Drive Along Newfound Gap

For your final day of the Smoky Mountain itinerary, you’ll be headed towards the Tennessee and North Carolina border. A popular pastime when people visit the park is to take a drive along Newfound Gap . It is beautiful any time of year because of the sweeping mountain views and plenty of places to stop and stretch your legs.

2. Eat Lunch at Chimneys Picnic Area

chimneys picnic area sign in the great smoky mountains

You’ll want to pack another picnic lunch for your third day in the park, and the place you’ll want to stop and enjoy it is Chimneys Picnic Area. This area is shaded by huge trees, and everyone will love to get out and explore after driving along Newfound Gap.

3. Hike to Clingmans Dome

Once you’re done with lunch, you’ll hop back in the car to your final destination: Clingmans Dome . This is a huge observation tower that was built in the park many years ago, and people come from all over the country to see the breathtaking sights from the top. It is one of the tallest points in the park at over 6,000 feet in elevation. To get to the top, you’ll hike a steep paved trail that’s about 1 mile round trip. Once you’re at the top, you’ll be able to see for over 100 miles!

There’s no place quite like the Smokies. This Smoky Mountain itinerary will help you make the most of your short trip. You’ll have a blast exploring the area, and we know you’ll want a comfy place to come back to after your busy days. We have several cabins that would accommodate everyone in your group and meet all of your needs. Look through our Smoky Mountain cabin rentals, and book one for your trip now!

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