8 Things to do in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the most visited national park in the United States. Visitors from all over the world like to come to the area to take a look at the beautiful vegetation and great wildlife that fills the glorious mountains. In fact, the area has become quite the tourist attraction. All of the rides and attractions are great, but costs can get a little expensive for the budget traveler that doesn’t have the inside scoop.
That’s where I come in. I’ve put together a great list of things to do for budget travelers that want to visit the area but don’t want to spend all of their money doing so.
Get a Gatlinburg Area Guide- Gatlinburg is a town that is nestled in the Smoky Mountains. The area guides are free and will give you a good idea of what the typical Smoky Mountains visitor likes to do. While you’re at it, get the arts and crafts guide too. It’s on the same page and the arts and crafts community in Gatlinburg is amazing.
Take a hike- Since the Smoky Mountains are what the area is so famous for, it’s only natural that we include this on the list. There are many great hiking trails in the Smoky Mountains. The visitor’s center provides free maps and information about the park. Level of hikes are anywhere from easy to difficult and include amazing views and waterfalls.
- Endangered species in the Smoky Mountains include Indiana bat, Red-cockaded Woodpecker, Spotfin Chub, and the Spruce-fir moss spider.
- Animals in the Smoky Mountains include bears, bobcats, snakes (rattlesnakes and copperheads), and elk.
- Go to Dollywood…twice- If you decide to visit Dollywood (owned by the infamous Dolly Parton), go after three pm. If you go after three, you can go for the next day free. Tickets start at $55.90 for adults, $44.70 for children, and $52.50 for seniors. Dollywood is a very popular attraction for Gatlinburg lovers and it costs a bit of money but if you insist on going this is the way to do it.
- Stay in a cabin– I’m a little biased about this one because I work at a cabin company but hear me out. Staying at a cabin means having a lot more free entertainment. Many of them have pool tables, hot tubs, full kitchens, cable tv, and internet. If you’re looking for a deal Cabins For You has budget cabins in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge that start at under $100 a night.
- Eat-in – plan to splurge on lunch at Pancake Pantry in Gatlinburg. It’s the oldest pancake house in town. They’re famous for real butter, made from scratch pancakes, and fresh whipped cream. Other than that, plan to buy food at the local grocery store and eat in your hotel or cabin. Also, pack light snacks for trips into town and hikes in the mountains so you’re not tempted to buy food unnecessarily.
- Walk – Try to walk as much as possible. There are a few places in the Smoky Mountain area that have free parking but in downtown Gatlinburg, you may have to pay to park. So, find a free spot and walk everywhere you can.
- Karaoke– In Gatlinburg there are a couple of sports bars that have nightly karaoke. The time I went, it was a Tuesday night. They held a karaoke contest and gave away $400 in cash to the winner. Too bad it wasn’t me.
- Play outdoors – There are a lot of attractions in the area but I think if you’re in the SmokyEndangered species in the Smoky Mountains include: Indiana bat, Red-cockaded Woodpecker, Spotfin Chub, and the Spruce-fir moss spider.
Animals in the Smoky Mountains include bears, bobcats, snakes (rattlesnakes and copperheads), and elk. In the Mountains, you should be enjoying the outdoors. So, splurge on outdoor sports. The Smoky Mountains have a small ski resort open during the winter called Ober Gatlinburg. During the summer you can go white water rafting, canoeing, or tubing. Of course, if you bring your own equipment you can go canoeing, and tubing for free. I suggest paying for a local guide for white water rafting, and Ober Gatlinburg will cost you some money for lift tickets (bring your own equipment to save money on rentals.)
I hope this list has been helpful. We love the Smoky Mountains and hope that we’ve helped give you some great ideas for visiting here on a budget. Different seasons bring different temperatures and different amounts of visitors, but any time of year is a great time to visit.