Hidden Smoky Mountains Attractions

Check out some of the best hidden Smoky Mountain attractions

If you think about the Great Smoky Mountains you probably immediately think of Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge and Dollywood. You probably even know about the Titanic Museum or Ripley’s Believe it or Not. But if that is the extent of your Smoky Mountain fun, then you are missing out on some of the best hidden Smoky Mountains attractions the area has to offer.

Smoky Mountains Attractions: Cades Cove

Cades Cove is a step back in time. There is a campground, picnic areas and a small visitors store, but the main attraction is the 11 mile one way loop that goes through the valley. Expect to spend between 1-2 hours driving at a very slow speed as you watch for bear, turkeys, deer and other wildlife. There are historic homes, churches and even a mill where you can stop, park and tour along the way. Plan for some extra time to hike back in to see one of the area’s most popular waterfalls, Abrams Falls.

If you are interested in getting a little closer to the Cove, there are designated times where only bikers and walkers can tour the loop. Located in the heart of the Smokies outside Townsend, Cades Cove is only about an hour from the Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg area.

Smoky Mountains Attractions: Clingmans Dome

At 6,643 feet, Clingmans Dome is the highest point in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. There is a 7 mile road that leads you to the base of the hike. Once you get there, you can climb a monument that gives you an amazing view of the Smoky Mountains (which is stroller friendly). Be prepared to be amazed. Just to warn you, because of the altitude, this hike may be more strenuous than you expect. There are pull off points along the drive and benches along the final hike to give you a place to catch your breath and experience the awesome views of the surrounding areas. It is typically 10-20 degrees colder at the top, so keep that in mind.

Smoky Mountains Attractions: Sugarland Visitor Center

If you’re heading toward Clingmans Dome or over to Cherokee, NC, the Sugarlands Visitor Center is worth a visit. There you can get an up close view of the animals that have been found in the Smokies. There are interactive maps, working grist mills as well as periodic programs presented by the Park Rangers. Not only is this a great stretch break, but a great stopping point as well.

Have You Visited The Great Smoky Mountains? We Would Love To Hear About It!

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37 Comments

  1. Looks like a fun and adventurous place to go. I’ve never been to the Smokey Mountains before so I’ll need to add it on my list of places to go to.

  2. I visited the Smoky Mountains YEARS ago. I went along on a friend’s family vacation and we were staying in North Carolina. We did a lot of sight seeing throughout the area. I remember there being so much to do there. We were busy every single day and I was exhausted by the end of the trip!

    1. I have left the Smoky Mountains exhausted on several occasions. There is just so much to see and do there.

  3. Oh my goodness! My family always camped at Cades Cove every summer. I actually broke my wrist riding my bike on the loop- age 12! Sure a beautiful place:)

    1. Oh no! I hate that you broke your wrist!

      It is a fabulous area and camping there sounds really fun. πŸ™‚

  4. Haven’t been to Great Smoky Mountains but I would love to visit one day! And make sure to keep these in mind (bookmarking for later). Thanks for the great tips Dawn.

  5. This is one area of the country that my husband and I have not traveled. We are planning on doing so within the next year. We have pretty much been to every other state. The pictures are fabulous and I would love to visit all of these attractions.

    1. We still have a lot more of the country to see, but this part is definitely one of our favorites of what we have seen. πŸ™‚

  6. I have never been, but it is on my list of places that I absolutely want to go to! I had a family member get married in the Smokey Mountains a few years back and was super bummed that we couldn’t make the trip then.

  7. I love hearing about the less commercialized places like these. I hope to visit the Smoky Mountains in the near future. I am heading to the Ozark Mountains in Branson, MO next month though!

  8. Heading there in just a couple of days!! Cannot wait! The Smokey Mountains have been my favorite vacation spot for as long as I can remember. My parents always took us on the way to Florida every year and I would beg to stay longer. Now whenever I can steal away it is my destination of choice. I cannot count how many times we have gone! I agree with you about al, if the sites you have mentioned. Love them all! Thank you for the teaser. Blessings!

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