Summer is a great time to visit the park—the weather is nice and warm, the wildflowers are still in bloom, and the park is bursting with life. There are so many things to do in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, you are bound to find something that sparks your interests. Below are the most popular activities in the summer:
Hiking: Summer is the ideal season to strap on your boots and go for a hike in the Smokies. The weather is near-perfect, and the trails are beckoning adventure. Don’t let the crowds scare you off, there are so many trails that are less travelled, and help you forget about the congestion at Clingman’s Dome. Read our trail descriptions below for more information.
Backpacking: Great Smoky Mountains National Park has over 100 backcountry campsites, making it easy to string together for a multi-night adventure in this world-renowned wilderness. Backpacking in the Smokies is the best way to fully immerse yourself in the beauty and joy of the park, and an activity you do not want to miss out on!
Bicycling: Cades Cove Loop Road is perfect for bicycling, and even more perfect when there is no traffic. Wednesdays and Saturdays, from early May to late September, the 11-mile loop is closed to vehicles in the morning until 10 am, giving bicyclists freedom to explore the area without traffic. Even if you arrive after 10 am, or on a different day of the week, biking this loop is a fantastic way to see wildlife, historic homesteads and the beauty of the valley. Bicycles are available for rental at Cades Cove Campground.
Kayaking: If paddling on a clear, blue lake under the shadows of the mighty Smoky Mountains, exploring places you can only get to by watercraft, sounds like a good time, you must try kayaking on Fontana Lake. It is also popular to run the heart-racing rapids on one of the many rapids in the park. Kayaks are available for rental in Gatlinburg, TN and Bryson City, NC.
Whitewater Rafting: Another popular activity in the surrounding area is whitewater rafting. Trips go out every day throughout the summer, and you can choose a scenic float along a calm part of the Pigeon River, or a bumpy ride along the rapids of the river.
Sightseeing: To make the most of a limited amount of time in the park, you may choose to hit the most popular attractions on a sightseeing self-tour. With numerous pullouts on Newfound Gap Road, Clingman’s Dome Road and Laurel Creek Road, you are sure to see some of the best landscape in the country. Check out the Park Service’s air quality webcams to determine where will give you the best vantage point.
Ziplining: A great way to appreciate the big and beautiful trees of the Smoky Mountains is to literally zip past them. Ziplining is an exhilarating activity for an afternoon in the Smokies. Tours are available each day throughout the summer, and vary in length.