Scenic view of Great Smoky Mountains National Park near Gatlinburg, TN
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Top 4 Things to Do in The Great Smoky Mountains

Visible from just about anywhere in East Tennessee, the Great Smoky Mountains rise above rolling hills and provide a stunning backdrop to the lights of nearby Pigeon Forge. The most popular entrance to Great Smoky Mountains National Park is at the Sugarlands Visitors Center, just 20 minutes from The Island in Pigeon Forge, providing the perfect opportunity to take a break from the attractions and enjoy nature at its finest. 

Although there are countless ways to experience the Smokies, these top four things to do are a great starting point!   

1. Hiking

Great Smoky Mountains National Park features over 150 official hiking trails in the park, so you can find the perfect trail. Take your pick from waterfall hikes, trails with sweeping mountain views, challenging uphill treks, or more leisurely strolls. For waterfalls, we suggest Grotto Falls, or the ever-popular, Laurel Falls. Hike to Andrews Bald or Chimney Tops for panoramic views along the way. And for something a little easier on the hiking boots, check out the Gatlinburg Trail or Porters Creek Trail. 

2. Whitewater Rafting

Whether you’re looking for a relaxing float downstream or an adrenaline-pumping trip traversing whitewater, you’ll discover plenty of rafting opportunities in the Smokies. With rushing mountain streams tumbling into the Pigeon and Ocoee Rivers, class III and IV rapids abound in the area. Take a guided excursion with Rafting in the Smokies or Nantahala Outdoor Center

3. Fishing

Anglers, at the ready! The Smoky Mountains are teeming with wild trout and bass, and several prime fishing spots. Head to the Horseshoe at Cades Cove or the Little River at Elkmont for rainbow trout, or LeConte Creek and Dudley Creek for rock and smallmouth bass. And if you’re in need of some fishing gear, be sure to check out The Smoky Mountain Angler in Gatlinburg for all of the necessary supplies. 

4. Scenic Drives (or Bike Rides)

Driving The Loop at Cades Cove puts you right in the middle of a mountain paradise. The route features rolling meadows, breathtaking mountain views, and historic structures from early settlers to explore. Drive the 11-mile road with your windows down to breathe in the sweet mountain air and hear trickling streams as they flow past. 

If you’re hoping to take it even slower, you can even bike The Loop. The park closes the road every Wednesday and Saturday morning from 7-10 a.m.for walkers and bikers. You can rent a bicycle from a local business near the entrance to The Loop or bring your own. 

At the end of a day exploring the Great Smoky Mountains, get into an island state of mind back at Margaritaville Island Inn in Pigeon Forge. Relax around one of our fire pits or cool off in our outdoor pool. Book your stay today with our Pigeon Forge vacation deals

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