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Top 4 Things to Do in the Great Smoky Mountains in Summer

Scenic spring photo of the Smoky Mountains.
July 16, 2020

Are you planning a trip to the Great Smoky Mountains in the summer but you aren’t sure what you should do while you’re visiting? There are a ton of fun things to do in the national park! You can spend some time outside when you go on a hike or enjoy the beauty of the area from the comfort of your car. Check out these top 4 things to do in the Great Smoky Mountains in summer:

1. Go Fishing

father and son trout fishing

A really popular activity people enjoy doing in the summer in the Smokies is fishing . While you must have a valid Tennessee or North Carolina fishing license to fish, it’s pretty simple to get. Even if you’re only going to be in town for a week, you can get a special license so you can fish anywhere in the park. You can fish in any creek, stream, river, or lake in the Great Smoky Mountains. You are allowed to fish 30 minutes before sunrise to 30 minutes after sundown. You’ll love being out in the water, especially on the hot summer days!

2. Go Hiking

The activity most people love to do during the summer is go hiking . There are hundreds of miles of hiking trails in the national park. You can pick trails based on what you would like to see as you go. There are several that just take you through the woods of the mountains and beside creeks so you can enjoy the sights and sounds. Some trails have incredible mountain views while others have cool geological features. Other trails have wildflowers or waterfalls. The trails in the Great Smoky Mountains are broken into three levels: easy, moderate, and difficult. There are short and easy trails, short and hard trails, long and easy trails, or long and hard trails. You have so much variety to choose from!

3. Go Driving

road running through cades cove

If you don’t want to get out in the heat to enjoy the mountains, you should take a scenic drive . You can stay close to Gatlinburg or drive all the way from Tennessee to North Carolina. There are short drives and long drives. You could go on a drive with several points where you can stop and get out to explore, or you could go on a drive where you stay in the car the entire time. The most popular scenic drive is Cades Cove, which is an 11-mile paved loop through a valley with several historic buildings you can explore. Foothills Parkway is another pretty popular drive that has incredible mountain views, a picnic area, and several overlooks. Newfound Gap Road has a ton of stops along the way, and it’s beautiful in the summer.

4. Go Picnicking

A great thing to do in the Smokies with your family is go for a picnic . You can choose one of the picnic areas in the park, which include picnic tables and charcoal grills if you want to cook. The Cades Cove picnic area is pretty popular and has 81 picnic sites, most of them alongside a creek where you can explore. Metcalf Bottoms is another pretty popular picnic spot with 122 sites. You don’t have to only stick to picnic areas though. You could pack a cooler and stop virtually anywhere in the park or along a hiking trail.

You have so many fun things to do in the Great Smoky Mountains this summer. Since you know what you want to do, you just need a place to stay! Look through our Smoky Mountain cabin rentals and pick one out for your summer trip!

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