If you are planning a trip to the Smoky Mountains, this Smoky Mountains Vacation Guide will answer all your questions.
In this guide, we teach you how to plan the perfect trip to the Smokies, and give you pointers on transportation, lodging, and sightseeing.
If you really want more hands-on help, be sure to get our 7-day Scenic Tours Itinerary for the Smokies. It’s the perfect accompaniment to your research for planning a Smoky Mountains Vacation.
What Is The Best Month To Visit the Smoky Mountains?
The Great Smoky Mountains are the perfect destination for any outdoor enthusiast! While they can be enjoyed year-round, there is a certain charm that comes with visiting this picturesque region during certain times of the year.
With that in mind, the best month to visit the Smoky Mountains is during the Summer months(June & July) and Fall(October).
The summer months are some of the best times to visit the Smoky Mountains, as they offer a unique blend of outdoor activities and stunning natural beauty.
In October, the Great Smoky Mountains are blanketed in beautiful fall foliage.
Brilliant shades of yellow, orange, and red create a breathtaking backdrop during hikes or scenic drives.
While these months are the best times to travel, they can also be very crowded.
One f the best ways to avoid crowds in the Smokies is traveling during the off-season including the months of January, February, and March.
- Best of Summer: June
- Beat the Crowd: March
- Fall Foliage: October
- Spring Travel: April
- Cheapest time: January and February
- Celebrate the Holidays: December
- Quiet trip: November
How Many Days Do You Need For The Great Smoky Mountains?
In order to get a good overview of the Great Smoky Mountains, we recommend spending at least 4 days in the area. Four days gives you enough time to visit the main attractions and take shorter hikes and drives.
However, if you really want to “see it ALL”, I recommend you get my 7-day Smokies Scenic Tours Itinerary.
To Learn more information, head to our post on How Many Days Do You Need In The Smoky Mountains?
Packing For The Smoky Mountains
When planning for a trip to the Smoky Mountains, it is important to make sure you are packing all the essentials and staying prepared for any of the unpredictable weather or terrain.
- Comfortable walking shoes
- Sturdy Hiking shoes or boots
- Shirts, Pants or Shorts
- Water bottles or Hydration pack
- Layers of Clothing
In addition to these essential items, you’ll need additional things depending on the time of year. Seasonal changes can affect what you need to pack, so be sure to consult our comprehensive Seasonal Packing guide.
How To Get To The Smoky Mountains
The Knoxville McGee Tyson Airport is the closest airport(most convenient) to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The airport is located in Alcoa, TN and it services five commercial airlines including Allegiant, American, Delta, Frontier and United.
The easiest way to get from the airport to the Smokies is by renting a car.
People who visit the Smokies generally come from places like Nashville, Knoxville, and Asheville. However, if you’re not coming from Cherokee in North Carolina, it’s likely you’ll take Interstate 40 at some point during your trip.
Driving Direction to the Gatlinburg, TN entrance(From interstate highway I-40)
- Take Exit 407 for Sevierville. Once you’re on TN-66 South
- Stay straight at the Sevierville intersection onto US-441 South.
- You’ll follow this all the way through Sevierville and Pigeon Forge until you reach the park.
People planning to visit the Great Smoky Mountains National Park can also find entrance points in Townsend, TN, and Cherokee, NC. Our guide on How To Get To The Smoky Mountains gives full driving directions.
Best Things To Do In The Smoky Mountains
There’s always something to do when you’re visiting the Smoky Mountains. From town activities in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, to all the incredible outdoor things you can do in the park itself, your vacation will never be dull.
- Hiking – The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the most visited national park in the United States and for good reason. With over 800 miles of trails ranging from easy to strenuous, it’s no wonder why hiking is one of the most popular activities here.
- Camping – There are plenty of campgrounds in the area, with several located within the boundaries of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Depending on the season, visitors can camp in tents or RVs, and during the summer months there are several backcountry sites available for those looking for a more rustic experience.
- Wildlife Viewing – The Smoky Mountains are home to an incredible variety of wildlife, from black bears and white-tailed deer to elk and bobcats. Visitors should always keep their distance, but they can still enjoy the sights of these majestic creatures.
- Scenic Drives– There are numerous roads that wind their way through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, including roads like the Foothills Parkway and Newfound Gap Road. Each of these roads offer breathtaking views of the park’s lush forests and wildlife.
Smoky Mountains 7-Day Itinerary
I understand how difficult it can be to plan a trip, especially if it’s your first time going. That’s why I created this 7-day itinerary for the Smoky Mountains. It outlines all of the best places to go in the area and comes with insider tips that will save you a lot of stress–trust me, they saved me when I was planning my own trip!
- Our 7-day itinerary takes you to the best places in the Smoky Mountains.
- You’ll get to see all the best sights and attractions with driving directions
- The itinerary is designed to show you the most scenic routes.
- Packing Checklist for every season.
- You’ll have everything you need to make the most of your trip.
- Insider Tips!
Here’s a quick overview of our Smoky Mountains 7-Day Itinerary.
- Day 1: Cades Cove Loop
- Day 2: Rich Mountain Road
- Day 3: Cataloochee Valley
- Day 4: Newfound Gap Road
- Day 5: Roaring Fork Motor Trail
- Day 6: Little River Road
- Day6: Foothills Park Way
Where To Eat In the Smoky Mountains
The Smoky Mountains are known for their incredible cuisine, and the best places to eat in the region showcase local flavors and create dishes that will delight any palate.
Whether you’re looking for a casual lunch or a romantic dinner, there’s something for everyone in this beautiful mountain range.
- Classic Southern Cooking: The Old Mill Restaurant & Mama’s Farmhouse In Pigeon Forge
- Best Steakhouse: The Peddler Steakhouse
- Unique Dining Experience: The Old Mill Pottery House Cafe
- Best Breakfast: Crockett’s Breakfast Camp & Pancake Pantry
- Dollywood Restaurants
- Best Italian Restaurant In Pigeon Forge
Where To Stay In The Smoky Mountains
With plenty of options, it can be hard to decide the best place to stay in the Smoky Mountains. Here are some of the top picks when it comes to staying in the Smoky Mountains:
- GSM Family Vacations Cabin
- Great Smoky Mountains Family Resorts
- Smoky Mountains Campgrounds
- Luxury Cabins in Smoky Mountains
Download Our FREE Smoky Mountains Checklist Now!
Related Smoky Mountain Resources
- Pigeon Forge Vacation Guide
- Gatlinburg Vacation Guide
- 125+ Things to Do in the Smoky Mountains
- Great Smoky Mountains Family Vacations Facebook Group
More Related Resources
Looking for more things to do in the Smokies during your visit? Head on to our list of 125+ Amazing Things To Do in the Smoky Mountains! And to make your trip even more exciting, try this national park photo scavenger hunt idea from PhotoJeepers.