top of page

Exploring the Most Popular Spots in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Updated: Dec 18, 2023

A black bear in the Smokey Mountains of Tennessee.

The most visited national park in the United States is home to gorgeous mountain scenery, hiking trails, wildlife, plants, historic buildings and so much more. Every place in the park has something incredible to offer visitors. It’s impossible to see everything the park has to offer in just one visit, but there are some can’t-miss destinations you have to see while you’re in town. Whether you’re hoping to spot wildlife like black bears and elk, or historic buildings and mountain views, these special places in the Smoky Mountains have a lot to offer:

Cades Cove This is the most visited area in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Visitors love driving along the 11-mile Cades Cove Loop Road and seeing historic structures, wildlife and more.

Clingmans Dome This is the highest point in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and offers incredible, panoramic views. It’s one of the best places in the park to watch a sunrise or sunset.

Elkmont Elkmont was once a logging community, then a popular vacation town, and now it’s considered a “ghost town” in the Smokies. The Elkmont area is home to Elkmont Campground, the most popular campground in the park, and abandoned buildings that have been restored.

Newfound Gap Newfound Gap is the lowest drivable pass that runs through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and travels 33 miles from Gatlinburg, TN to Cherokee, NC. It offers both mountain and forest views.

Cataloochee Cataloochee Valley is on the North Carolina side of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and is home to a number of historic structures, like the Palmer Chapel. It’s the best place to spot elk in the Smoky Mountains.


bottom of page