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Explore the Great Smoky Mountains

Untapped adventure awaits in the Great Smoky Mountains. Home to the nation’s most popular national park, this mountain paradise provides visitors with dramatic vistas, endless hiking trails, adrenaline-inducing whitewater rafting, and more. 

An escape to the Great Smoky Mountains is more than just a chance to get outside—it’s an invitation to escape and explore a wilderness like no other.

History of the Great Smoky Mountains

History buffs will find no shortage of interesting facts about the Great Smoky Mountains, especially because they’re known as the oldest mountains in the world. Over their long lifespan, the Great Smoky Mountains have been home to many different groups, including the prehistoric Paleo Indians, European settlers, and loggers. Historic structures dating back to hundreds of years ago are dotted throughout the area, preserved by the National Park Service.

In fact, President Franklin D. Roosevelt first dedicated the area as a national park in 1940, ensuring that all cultural and environmental aspects of the park be protected for future generations. It has since become the most visited national park in the country, and for good reason.

Plants and Animals of the Great Smoky Mountains

The Great Smoky Mountains get their name from a fascinating natural phenomenon. Known by the Cherokee as “Shaconge'' (“Land of Blue Smoke”), vegetation covering the mountains and valleys emit vapors that give the mountains their iconic appearance. 

During a trip to the Smokies, you can explore hundreds of thousands of acres consisting of old growth forests like hemlock and pine, rolling highland meadows, and rushing streams and waterfalls.  Some of the area’s most famous inhabitants are its dense population of black bears, which can often be seen from roads and trails through the park.  One even came by to check out the lobby of our Margaritaville Resort when it first opened!  Visitors will often come across other wildlife like white-tailed deer or bobcats as well. The Smokies are even home to a specific species of firefly that synchronize during their summer mating season, creating a spectacular and one-of-a-kind light show. 

Best Time to Visit the Great Smoky Mountains

A trip to the Smokies is a bucket list adventure and must-visit attraction when in Gatlinburg. And because this mountain range experiences all four seasons, there is no bad time to visit! 

Summer

During the summer, the mountains are covered in greenery, and temperatures beneath the canopy are warm, making it the perfect time to cool off with some whitewater rafting or river tubing. Check out our list of top places for whitewater rafting near Gatlinburg.

Where to Go Whitewater Rafting

Fall

Fall in the Smokies brings about an explosion of brilliant colors. With cooler temperatures, hiking and horseback riding are some of the top activities during the season and a great way to view the fall foliage. This is undoubtedly one of the most popular times to visit, and we recommend exploring during the week to avoid the crowds.

Winter

When visiting the Great Smoky Mountains in winter, roads typically stay clear enough for scenic drives beneath evergreens or walks through the charming, Bavarian-inspired Gatlinburg downtown. The town is alight with Gatlinburg Winterfest, highlighted by the historic Christmas Parade. Keep an eye on the forecast and don’t miss the opportunity to go snow tubing or skiing at Ober Gatlinburg, just minutes from the Resort.

Explore Winter Activities

Spring

Spring is temperate and resplendent in new life with swaths of azaleas, dogwood trees, and mountain laurel in bloom – the perfect time to explore the mountain trails.

Located less than a mile from the iconic Great Smoky Mountains National Park sign, Margaritaville Gatlinburg Resort is the perfect base for your adventure. And after a day exploring the Smokies, our mountain resort offers plenty of ways to unwind, be it an indulgent spa treatment or the perfect margarita!

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