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A Guide Through the Great Smoky Mountains

This summer, I spent a week around the Great Smoky Mountains in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. I spent time around natural wonders that could take your breath away. As I looked down to see water streaming through my toes and searched the never-ending mountain tops, each glance into mother nature provided a sense of inner peace. Adventures filled the whole week. Hiking, waterfalls, wildlife, rivers, and unforgettable views each left me in awe. Here are some of nature’s blessings and attractions that you must do when visiting the Smoky Mountains. 

Nature’s greatest gifts can be found everywhere you look while in this area, but don’t be afraid of a little distance to get where you want to go. Personally, I stayed in a cabin in the mountains in a town outside of Pigeon Forge. The majority of my choice destinations were fifteen minutes to an hour away. Don’t be afraid of the distance. Remember- you are in the mountains and it takes longer to get where you’re going. Trust me, the destination is definitely worth the wait. 

Hiking is an absolute must when you’re in these beautiful mountains. There are more hiking trails in the area than you could imagine. The Smoky Mountains have a little bit of everything- with easy to strenuous hiking options. If you’ve never hiked before, start with an easy trail and see how it goes, but don’t forget, “the harder the hike, the more rewarding the view.”  To get an idea of which trails are the right length and level for you, search “hiking in the Smokys” to get all information on specific trails. Abrams Falls, Laurel Falls, Ozone Falls, and Chimney Tops Trail are just a few of the hiking trails my family and I did throughout the week.

For more information on hiking, visit: https://www.hikinginthesmokys.com/

At Cades Cove, you can sightsee all from the comfort of your car. During the drive, you can see wildlife and an awe-inspiring view of the Smoky Mountains. You can even stop at designated spots to get amazing photos. If you’re wanting to see a lot of wildlife, early mornings and late evenings are the best times to go. I’ve seen deer, turkey, and even a mama bear and her cubs while enjoying the drive. There are also a few hiking trails that are a part of Cades Cove, where you can take a slight detour and see a waterfall or a historic site. Going on this nature drive-through is a great way to take it all in. 

To plan a trip to Cades Cove, visit: https://smokymountains.com/park/cades-cove/scenic-drive/

Tubing down the river was a fun and exciting experience that I would highly recommend to anyone planning a trip over the summer.  It’s a great way to enjoy the water while staying cool and relaxed. There are multiple different companies with varying prices and aspects so pick what’s best for you. For my family and me, River Rat was perfect.  Both the rapids and the lazy river had gorgeous waters. There was even a rock you could jump off of into the water. The experience was totally worth the price.

To find tubing prices, visit: https://smokymtnriverrat.com/

SkyLift is one of the last things we did before heading back home, and I’m glad we did.  This attraction is in Gatlinburg and is a fun thing to do if you decide to spend the day in the city to shop and eat. SkyLift takes you up the side of a mountain in a ski lift. At the top, there is the longest bridge in North America, and at the highest spot, there is a glass bottom.  At night the bridge even lights up, which is a beautiful sight. It’s exciting, as long as you’re not afraid of heights. This attraction gives you a perfect view of the city of Gatlinburg and the Smoky Mountains taking over the horizon. 

For SkyLift information, visit: https://www.gatlinburgskylift.com/

Though the SkyLift and tubing come at a price, Cades Cove and the hiking trails are completely free. I highly suggest visiting all of these attractions to get the full experience of the Great Smoky Mountains. Incredible is an understatement when it comes to a vacation like this.

 

Alexis McClain

Louisiana Tech '23

As a little girl, I spent hours writing stories. Obviously they weren't exactly bestsellers, but it was my passion nevertheless. I would fill up my notebooks with everything I didn't know how to say out loud, and anything I could imagine. Now, as a college student, I'm chasing my dream one word at a time. I'm currently studying English and Marketing, with the intention of becoming an editor.
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