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Great Smoky Mountains

A Wondrous Diversity of Life

Ridge upon ridge of forest straddles the border between North Carolina and Tennessee in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. World renowned for its diversity of plant and animal life, the beauty of its ancient mountains, and the quality of its remnants of Southern Appalachian mountain culture, this is America's most visited national park. Plan your visit today!

This tip guides you to the Gatlinburg, Tennessee entrance.

Here are some things you should know before visiting:

1. Plan ahead: The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a large area, and there are many things to see and do. Be sure to plan ahead and research what you would like to see and do during your visit.
2. Weather: The weather in the Great Smoky Mountains can be unpredictable, so make sure to check the weather forecast before your visit. Temperatures can vary widely depending on the time of year, so be prepared for changing weather conditions.
3. Hiking: The park has more than 850 miles of hiking trails, so make sure to bring appropriate hiking gear and clothing. Be sure to follow all posted signs and stay on designated trails.
4. Wildlife: The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is home to a variety of wildlife, including black bears, elk, and deer. Do not approach or feed any wildlife.
5. Camping: The park has several campgrounds available for visitors. Make sure to reserve your campsite in advance, especially during peak season.
6. Scenic Drives: The park has several scenic drives, including Newfound Gap Road and Cades Cove Loop Road. Be sure to plan enough time to stop and enjoy the views.
7. Leave No Trace: When visiting the park, be sure to follow the Leave No Trace principles to help protect the natural environment. Pack out all trash and do not disturb or remove any plants or wildlife.
8. Visitor Centers: The Great Smoky Mountains National Park has several visitor centers, which offer exhibits, educational programs, and information about the park. Stop by a visitor center to learn more about the park and plan your visit.
9. Entrance Fees: There is no entrance fee for the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, but there are fees for camping and some other activities.
10. Have Fun: The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a beautiful place to visit, with plenty of opportunities for hiking, wildlife viewing, and scenic drives. Enjoy your visit and take the time to appreciate the natural beauty of the park.
11. Best time to visit: The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is open year-round, but the best time to visit depends on what you want to see and do. Spring and fall are great for hiking and wildflower viewing, while summer is popular for camping and water activities. Winter offers beautiful snowscapes and less-crowded trails.
12. Accommodations: There are several lodging options available in and around the park, including campgrounds, cabins, and hotels. Some of the most popular accommodations are located in the towns of Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge in Tennessee.
13. Bear safety: The park is home to a large population of black bears, and visitors should take precautions to avoid conflicts. Follow posted signs, store food and garbage in bear-proof containers or lockers, and do not approach or feed bears.
14. Waterfalls: The Great Smoky Mountains are home to numerous waterfalls, including Laurel Falls, Abrams Falls, and Grotto Falls. Make sure to stay on designated trails and follow all safety guidelines when viewing waterfalls.
15. Cultural heritage: The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is also home to several historic structures and cultural sites, including the Mountain Farm Museum and the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail. Take time to explore these areas and learn about the history of the park.
16. Photography: The Great Smoky Mountains offer many opportunities for photography, from scenic vistas to wildlife and wildflowers. Make sure to bring your camera and plan for the best times of day for lighting.
17. Accessibility: The park has several wheelchair-accessible trails and facilities, including restrooms and visitor centers. Check the park's website or contact a visitor center for more information.
18. Ranger-led programs: The park offers a variety of ranger-led programs, including guided hikes, campfire talks, and educational programs for kids. Check the park's website or contact a visitor center for more information and schedules.
19. Rules and regulations: Make sure to familiarize yourself with the park's rules and regulations before visiting. These include restrictions on pets, off-trail hiking, and use of drones.
20. Respect the environment: Finally, make sure to respect the natural environment of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. This includes following Leave No Trace principles, staying on designated trails, and avoiding unnecessary disturbances to wildlife and plants.

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