Attractions, Great Smoky Mountains, Hiking, Parks

Quieter areas of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park

The timing of your Great Smoky Vacations determines how many other visitors you will encounter.  Week days are always less crowded than the weekends.  January, February, May, Early November and Early December are also less traveled months in the Smokies.

However, there are many places in the National Park that you can still enjoy without encountering large groups of people.

Cades Cove is a very popular attraction in the Smokies.  If you get there early in the morning, you can avoid the crowds.  Many of the trails are not utilized.  Many travelers just stay in their car and only get out at the historic structures.  You can encounter the wildlife and not even have to get out of your vehicle.

Rich Mountain Road is a scenic drive located on the loop road at Cades Cove at the halfway point, across from the Cades Cove Missionary Baptist Church. You’ll pass by waterfalls, streams and cliff sides as you drive up Rich Mountain and down the other side toward Townsend. Rich Mountain Road is about 7 miles long — be prepared for a winding mountain drive with plenty of curves and turns!

Parsons Branch Road offers another way to leave Cades Cove. The entrance to this gravel road is located right at the halfway point of the Cades Cove Loop Road. Parsons Branch Road is an 8 mile, one-way road, along which you’ll cross 18 creeks and see plenty of beautiful scenery. This road ends at US 129, which is also known as the Tail of the Dragon, a popular motorcycle drive just outside of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Newfound Gap Road is surrounded by trails that are much less traveled.  Yet, just as beautiful as other trails.

To visit the Jump Off, hikers will follow the Appalachian Trail northbound from the Newfound Gap Parking area.  After a short hike on a gorgeous mountain ridge, you’ll be treated to a stunning drop-off with views of some of the most rugged parts of the mountains.

Charlies Bunion is another highlight on the Appalachian Trail near Newfound Gap. This challenging hike yields great rewards. The impressive mountain views and sense of seclusion are well worth some hard work on the trail.

Cataloochee Valley is another peaceful valley at the other end of the park that boasts historic sites, hiking trails, and wildlife. This peaceful mountain valley is famously home to a large elk herd and is one of the only places you can see wild elk in the Eastern US.  Warning, the road is quite squirley on the way in.  It is also a hike from the TN side of the Great Smoky Mountains.

Tremont is home to some of the most scenic sections of river in the national park. Tremont is a trout fisherman’s paradise and has some gorgeous waterfalls and hiking trails.

Upper Tremont Road is one of the best Smoky Mountain scenic drives that still remains a hidden gem. Located near Wears Valley, this drive is more popular in the fall and is perfect for those looking for a peaceful drive. It’s about 3 miles in length and follows a mountain stream with several waterfalls. At the end of the road, you’ll reach the Middle Prong Trailhead, which offers an easy waterfall hike. If you want to stretch your legs some more, hike to Spruce Flats Falls at the Tremont Institute while you’re in the area!

The Middle Prong Trail in Tremont is a waterfall hike that’s well-known for being quite easy. After only 1 mile of hiking, you’ll be treated to several cascading waterfalls.

The Greenbrier Road follows along a stretch of the Little Pigeon River. You can stop to fish or even go for a swim!  The scenic drive is about 6 miles long and offers views of large hemlock trees, maple trees and historic structures. Some of the structures you can see along the road are the John Messer Barn and the Tyson McCarter Place. The Greenbrier section is also home to Ramsey Cascades, the tallest waterfall in the Smoky Mountains!


Amusement, Attractions, Z00

RainForest Adventures Zoo

Home to hundreds of amazing and unique live animals from around the world. See leaping lemurs, giant porcupines, tropical animals and other creates from across the globe. Experience the beauty of the rainforest with your family. Witness species of mammals that most people have never heard of, including the genet and coatimundi.  Unique creatures from all of the major tropical and temperate forests of the world.

The zoo is locally owned.  A lot of the animals have been donated.  There will be some animals you can pick up and hold.  Allow at least 1.5 hours.  Every zoo I have ever been to with monkeys seems to have a strong urine smell.  This one is no exception.


Handicap Accessible

Rainforest Adventures, 109 Nascar Dr, Sevierville, TN 37862-6917


Amusement, Entertainment, Pigeon Forge, Show

“Moonshine Murders”

Take dinner and theater to the next level during an interactive play where you and fellow guests help solve the mystery at hand. No seat is a bad one in the small theater, which offers an intimate experience and plenty of opportunity to interact with the actors. During the show, enjoy a three–course meal complete with your choice of soup and dessert.

ticket-moonshine-2019 murder

2682 Teaster Ln. Pigeon Forge, TN. 37863

Amusement, Entertainment, Show

Conway Twitty Tribute by Travis James

  • Watch a live performance from Travis James, the top Conway Twitty tribute artist in the industry
  • Listen to live renditions of classic Conway Twitty songs, including “Tight Fitting Jeans” and other hits
  • (865) 366-5953
  • 2828 Parkway # 15  Just up the hill at the Red Roof Mall Stoplight # 4

Conway Twitty Tribute

Amusement, Attractions, Pigeon Forge, Staying Active


adventurepark-fun-smokies-upper-level Race across hanging bridges, fly on rope swings, and zip between the treetops on this Pigeon Forge obstacle course. Piece together your own adventure from any of the available activities, which range from easy, kid-friendly moves  just 15 feet (4.5 meters) off the ground to thrilling 40-foot tall (12 meter) obstacles.

Adventureworks Pigeon Forge

(865) 774-3296

Great Smoky Mountains, Parks

Smoky Mountain Monarch Migration

MonarchTaggingByWarrenBielenberg-e1509738109435-300x210Monarch butterflies migrate south each summer and spend their winter hibernating in parts of Southern California and Mexico where the climate is warm year-round. Monarchs living east of the Rocky Mountains migrate to Mexico overwintering in Oyamel Fir trees. Monarchs living west of the Rocky Mountains overwinter in Pacific Grove, California in eucalyptus trees. The butterflies return to the same trees each year which is unusual because the same butterfly never makes the trip twice and yet, somehow, the fourth generation of Monarchs find the right tree!  Amazingly this fourth generation migrates over 2,500 miles each year for the perfect hibernation climate and tree.

The Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont monarch butterfly tagging program is an effort to monitor the health of the Monarch population and to track the butterflies progress along their migration route. Each year in late summer and early fall volunteers flock to Cades Cove in the Great Smoky Mountains Tagging program. Part of the fun is discovering, months after the event, that the butterfly you tagged was located thousands of miles away.

Monarch Tagging and Butterfly/Moth Identification