Each season brings beauty and a change in the scenery, making them all great for sightseeing. Any time of year, you can expect to an abundance of wildflowers blooming in the park. There are over 1,500 different types of flowering plants in Great Smoky Mountain National Park—more than any other park. Spring ephemerals—the earliest wildflower—begin blooming in the lower elevations in February, and witch-hazel—the latest wildflower—continue blooming until January. The vibrant colors of wildflowers throughout the year make the landscape constantly remarkable.
In the spring, there are many trails that treat you to extraordinary wildflowers (you can read the full list here). Great Smoky Mountain Association hosts an annual Wildflower Pilgrimage, with seminars and guided wildflower walks. Another amazing sight in spring and summer is the Synchronous firefly. This is one of the 19 species of fireflies in the park, and the only species in the United States that synchronizes it’s flashing light pattern as part of a mating display. Their mating season lasts two weeks, and can occur from the middle of May to the middle of June.
Summer is a great time to sightsee in the park. The weather is typically warm, with clear blue skies, so you can see for miles and miles from certain viewpoints. When you get to higher elevations, like Newfound Gap, or Clingman’s Dome, you gets views for as far as the eye can see.
As early as mid-September the fall colors put on a fantastic show throughout the park. Because of the elevation and climate of the park, the colors displayed are similar to New England’s autumn spectacle. To take in the expansive views of red, orange and yellow trees, drive Clingmans Dome Road, the Blue Ridge Parkway or the Foothills Parkway.
Snow is likely to fall at higher elevations in January and February, covering the ground with up to two feet of snow at times. The scenery is magnificent and magical with snow-dusted trees, frozen waterfalls and creeks, snow-covered historic cabins and white ridgelines. Winter is perfect for sightseeing and photography because of it’s low lighting and ideal conditions.