We love the Smoky Mountains. Everything about them from the way they make you feel when you can see them on the horizon driving into town, to the experiences they provide for those who enjoy nature’s playground. Here are our top 5 outdoor activities that our family has come to enjoy over the years.
1. Cades Cove | https://www.nps.gov/grsm/planyourvisit/cadescove.htm
What is there not to like about Cades Cove in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. It has a bit of everything for everyone. From historic settlements to amazing hiking trails. Breath taking views to the possibility of seeing a momma bear and cubs. This 11-mile, one-way loop captures the soul of the Smoky Mountains and is a sight not to be missed when visiting the area. Our favorite hike is the Abram Falls trial. A 5-mile in and out trail that takes you along a fast flowing river and up bit of elevation. It’s shaded for most of the way and the reward after a 2.5-mile walk into the forest is the beautiful Abram Falls. Pack a lunch and enjoy. You can even take a quick dip if the water level isn’t running too high.
2. Tuckaleechee Caverns | https://tuckaleecheecaverns.com/
The Tuckaleechee Caverns is one of the more interesting natural places to experience in the Smoky Mountains. Located in Townsend on the “Quiet side of the Smokies”. You enter the gift shop/registration area and once the tour begins you quickly realize that the gift shop is the entrance to the caverns. After descending into the depths, you arrive in the caverns that feature a series of lighted walkways. Stalagmite and Stalactite formations are everywhere, along with the flow of an underground river, and the tallest subterranean waterfall in the Easter United States. The highlight of the tour is what they call the “Big Room”, a cavern that could almost fit a small football stadium. It’s massive and beautiful, and the staff will go you a glimpse of the darkness by turning the lights off.
3. Smoky Mountain Ziplines | https://smokymountainziplines.com/
The Smoky Mountain Ziplines offers one of the best ziplining experiences in the area. Centrally located less than 2-miles from the Parkway (Hwy 441) in a beautiful setting adjacent to Mill Creek surrounded by rolling hills, horse pastures, and off course mountain terrain. Zip through one of the largest canopy tours in Pigeon Forge, offering seven lines and amazing views of the Smoky Mountains. The staff is friendly, humorous and makes you feel safe throughout the entire experience. We took our 8- and 11-year-old daughters, and after some initial hesitation they took to it without a worry in the world. You may even catch a glimpse of one of our cabins, Off The Ridge, while flying through the tree tops.
4. Smoky Mountain River Rat | https://smokymtnriverrat.com/
If you’re looking for a relaxing float down the river, look no further then Smoky Mountain River Rat in Townsend. There are a couple different outpost locations depending on how adventurous you are feeling. Outpost A is the mellow option offering a series of relaxing rapids and swimming holes. Outpost B is a bit more exciting featuring adrenaline-pumping rapids for those that seek a more action-packed run down the river. We went with Outpost A since we have younger children but could have tackled Outpost B since our girls both loved the rapid sections of the river. Next time for sure! And water shoes will help for those parts of the river where you need to walk a bit to keep your momentum going.
5. Big Rock Dude Ranch at Ponderosa | https://horseridingbigrock.com/
What better way to spend time with the family than a horseback ride in the Smokies? The Big Dude Ranch offers a safe and memorable horseback experience through well-developed mountain trails. The cowboys are charismatic, funny and experts in riding safety. The ride is beautiful as you zig zag through forest. The horses are well accustom to the trail, allowing you to relax and enjoy the sights and sounds of the mountains. If horseback riding isn’t your thing, the ranch also has a petting zoo, stocked fishing pond and gem mining area. The Big Rock Dude Ranch is a great option to break away from hustle and crowds of the tourist stops off the parkway.
We would love to host you and your families! Check out our cabins for availability.