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  • Writer's pictureAnne Dat

5 Must See Spots in the Great Smoky Mountains

Updated: Jan 5, 2023

The first park Stan and I visited during our roadtrip was the Great Smoky Mountains.

Although the month of May usually isn't the best time to visit this park, we managed to get some amazing views. We had three days in this park, for us this was enough time to see some gems. In this post you can read about our top 5 Must See Spots!

Number 5: Alum Cave Trail

This hike is relatively easy, only the last part is high up. This hike is 2.3 miles (3.7 km) and starts by crossing Walker Camp Prong and Alum Cave Creek on log bridges, leading you through an old-growth hardwood forest. Along the way you'll get to a tunnel made of Arch Rock. Climbing through this was a highlight of this hike. Eventually you'll get to a great look out point!

Starting point of this hike: N35 37.748 W83 27.056

Number 4: Laurel Falls

We asked the ranger at the visitor center about his favorite place in the park. And yes, you guessed it! His answer was Laurel Falls. After hearing this we simply had to go an visit this spot!

The walk up to Laurel Falls is one of the most popular ones in the park. So, if you want to do this one, I suggest doing it on an early morning or late afternoon. This way you'll avoid the crowds. For me Laurel Falls was a chill little hike upwards to a stunning waterfall. It's 2.3 miles (3.7 km) out and back.

The route upwards was amazing! Supposedly the month of May isn't the best time to visit. But I think that for this little hike it is, the whole park was covered in bright greens!

Starting point of this hike: N35 40.319 W83 34.833

Number 3: Breakfast in Gatlinburg

While visiting The Great Smoky Mountains, Gatlinburg is a town you really don't want to miss. Even if you prefer spending time in nature, is suggest you either have breakfast, lunch or dinner in Gatlinburg. Just to experience this crazy little town. For me and Stan it felt like an amusement park. For breakfast we would advise you to go to Crockett's Breakfast Camp,

here you can enjoy an authentic American breakfast. Feel like exploring Gatlinburg a little more? Then try playing a game, walking through the mirror maze or step foot in their aquarium.

Number 2: Cades Cove Loop Road

Stan and I almost missed out on this incredible part of the park. While planning we didn't check the opening times of the road. So, if you're interested in driving through Cades Cove Loop, be sure to check the parks website in advance! Although May isn't one of the best months to visit the Smokies, it is a good month to spot some wildlife. The beers are getting out of their hibernation and spend their time looking for something to eat. The birds are chirping and allot of beautiful insects are flying all around you! Cades Cove is an active bear area in the park, Stan and I managed to spot 5 bears while driving through it! The great part about this park is the knowledge the park rangers have, the guy in the photo's explained allot about why the bears were in this part of the park specifically. But I'm not going to give away all the facts! If you ever visit this park, make sure to engage in conversation!

Starting point of Cades Cove drive:

Cades Cove Loop Road

Townsend, TN 37882

Number 1: Clingmans Dome!

Oh boy, this was a magical morning. Although I had serious doubts about getting up at 04:30 a.m. The views from the top of this tower were more than worth it! It's only half a mile up, but damn, this was a steep climb. Keep in mind that pets and bicycles are not permitted on the paved trail to the observation tower. At 6,643 feet (2,023 meter), the Clingmans Dome is the highest viewpoint of the park. If you want to go here, we highly suggest you go for sunrise! That's what we did, we only had to share the views with three other people. If this text doesn't win you over, I hope the foto's below will.

Starting point to Clingmans Dome: 35°33′46″N 83°29′55″W

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