You only have three days to spend in the Smoky Mountains. Is it enough? We’ll show you how to maximize your time for a short stay in the mountains. Be prepared, though: You can never spend enough time in the Smokies!
We’ll start with more information on the region and the best time to go. Then, we give you tips for adventures and entertainment for a three-day visit. Let’s get started!
About the Smoky Mountains
The Great Smoky Mountains span the Tenessee and North Carolina border. They are part of the Appalachian Mountain range, and they also border the Blue Ridge Mountains.
The Great Smoky Mountains are known for their diverse ecosystem and wildlife. There are over 65 species of mammals, over 200 types of birds, 67 fish species, and more than 80 variations of reptiles and amphibians in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
The American Black Bear symbolizes the region, and there are an estimated 1,500 bears in the park.
The national park is the most visited in the United States. Approximately 12 million people enter the park every year. Its beautiful landscapes and awe-inspiring mountains bring travelers from near and far.
What Is the Best Time Of Year to Visit the Smoky Mountains?
The best time to visit the Smoky Mountains is from June to October. Summer brings the highest temperatures, and you can experience outdoor adventures in the mountains. With hiking, paddling, bird watching, and more, you’ll find plenty to do in the summer.
The fall is also a great time to visit, as the crowds are fewer, but the temperatures are still warm. The bonus of going during October is that you will see the leaves change color. Autumn is the perfect time for a scenic drive tour through the Smoky Mountains.
Can You Drive Through the Smoky Mountains?
There are about 400 miles of road in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Taking a scenic drive through the park is one of the most popular ways to see the Smokies. You’ll want to arrive early in the day if you’re visiting during the summer. Traffic can be pretty heavy during mid-day.
You’ll want to plan on a slow pace to stop at overlooks and take it all in. It’s a delight to experience the changing landscapes when you drive over a peak or around a bend.
How Many Days Do You Need to See the Smoky Mountains?
We recommend spending a week in the Smokies. There’s so much to see and do that a week will allow you to pace yourself and get the most out of your time there. If you can stay for two weeks, that’s all the more opportunity for exploring the national park and experiencing small mountain towns.
If three days is all you have to visit the Smoky Mountains, we have you covered. It’s a manageable time to get to the highlights. However, be aware that after you spend three days in the Smokies, you may plan your next visit before you leave.
How Do You Spend 3 Days in the Great Smoky Mountains?
Driving through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park will give you much to soak in during a three-day stay. Be sure to drive around. We’ve also highlighted things you’ll want to experience during your short stay.
Stay in Gatlinburg
Stay in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, to get the most out of your three days. It’s the perfect mountain town and gateway to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. There’s plenty to do in downtown Gatlinburg and many places to stay, including hotels, campgrounds, and vacation rentals. You’ll find entertainment like Ripley’s Aquarium or the longest pedestrian Skybridge in North America. There’s also a 2.1-mile cable car Sky Lift that takes you from downtown to the Ober Gatlinburg ski resort and amusement park.
Go Zip Lining At Legacy Mountain
Legacy Mountain zip lines are close to Pigeon Forge and about 10 minutes off the Smoky Mountains parkway. You’ll soar across the trees with epic views of the mountains. There are seven zip lines at 500’ and speeds up to 50 mph. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime adventure that creates lasting memories. This activity is for ages seven and older, and they offer group reservations.
Dolly Parton is a national icon, and you may be surprised at how incredible her amusement park is. Dollywood is a family park with something for everyone. You’ll find rides, music, food, water slides, and more. Dollywood has a theme park, waterpark, and dinner theater. There are also resorts and cabins for lodging. Since it’s in the Smokies, the nature surrounding you never gets old.
Have Dinner At the Hatfield and McCoy Dinner Show
The Hatfield and McCoy Dinner Show in Pigeon Forge is a hoot. During your three-day visit, it’s the perfect dinner stop for good food and a fun show. You’ll get to help the Hatfields, and McCoys try to settle their long-running feud with humor, stunts, and some singing and dancing. You’ll leave full from the all-you-can-eat family-style southern meal.
Explore Cades Cove
Cades Cove is one of the most beautiful valleys in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Wildlife is often found here, including white-tailed deer, black bear, coyote, turkey, groundhogs, and more. You can drive the 11-mile loop through the cove and stop for photos or walk the trails. On Wednesdays during the summer, it closes to vehicles so that you can walk or bike the loop.
Hike in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Hiking is one of the most popular activities in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. You can find over 300 trails on AllTrails, along with their location, length, and skill level. The foot trails in the Smokies get you access to some of the best, unspoiled places. There are plenty of short hikes and day-long hikes. You could get in two to four trails if you stay in the region for three days.
Are the Smoky Mountains Worth Visiting?
The Smoky Mountains are worth visiting more than once. They’re beautiful year-round, and because they’re so expansive, you can keep going back to see something new. The national park also provides an education on the region, wildlife, plants, geography, and history. You can learn and experience a lot on a visit. There’s no shortage of adventure and entertainment, from Gatlinburg to Pigeon Forge and throughout the national park.
We hope you visit the Smoky Mountains soon. Be sure to tag us in some of your photos. We would love to hear about your experience!
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