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7 Ways to Enjoy the Great Smoky Mountains: Your Ultimate Summer Guide

The Great Smoky Mountains, straddling the border between North Carolina and Tennessee, are a natural wonder that draws millions of visitors each year. As summer begins, it's the perfect time to explore this breathtaking national park. From scenic hikes to vibrant wildlife, here’s your ultimate guide to experiencing the Great Smoky Mountains this summer.


Must-See Trails for Every Hiker


  • Alum Cave Trail - A moderate hike that rewards you with stunning views and the famous Alum Cave Bluffs. Perfect for both novice and experienced hikers.

  • Clingmans Dome - The highest point in the Smokies, offering panoramic views of the mountains. The half-mile hike to the observation tower is paved and suitable for all ages.

  • Charlies Bunion - For the more adventurous, this challenging hike along the Appalachian Trail offers breathtaking vistas and a sense of accomplishment.


💡 FUN FACT 💡

The Great Smoky Mountains provides a wide range of habitats that support an estimated 19,000 species of plants, animals, and fungi. Scientists believes that an additional 80,000 species may be found here!

Wildlife Watching

  • Cades Cove - This picturesque valley is a hotspot for wildlife viewing. Early mornings and late evenings are the best times to spot white-tailed deer, black bears, and wild turkeys.

  • Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail - A scenic drive that winds through dense forests and offers opportunities to see diverse flora and fauna. Keep your eyes peeled for black bears and colorful birds.

Source: Ron Durant Photography and Outdoors



Waterfalls and Swimming Holes

  • Laurel Falls - One of the most popular waterfalls in the park, this easy hike is perfect for families and offers a stunning view of the 80-foot cascade.

  • Midnight Hole - Located in Big Creek, this natural swimming hole with crystal-clear water is a refreshing spot to cool off on a hot summer day.



Cultural and Historical Sites

  • Mingus Mill - A historic grist mill that still operates today, offering a glimpse into the region’s past. Visitors can see the mill in action and purchase freshly ground cornmeal.

  • Elkmont Ghost Town - Explore the remnants of an early 20th-century logging town, with abandoned cabins and rich history nestled deep in the forest.



Camping Under the Stars

  • Backcountry Camping - For those seeking solitude, the park offers numerous backcountry campsites that require a permit. Enjoy the peace and beauty of nature with a night under the stars.

  • Frontcountry Campgrounds - Perfect for families and those new to camping, these campgrounds provide amenities like restrooms and fire pits, and are located near popular park attractions.


Seasonal Events and Activities

  • Synchronous Fireflies - A unique natural phenomenon where thousands of fireflies synchronize their flashing. The event occurs in late May to early June and requires planning ahead for access.

  • Ranger-Led Programs - Take advantage of the park’s educational programs, including guided hikes, wildlife talks, and evening campfire programs.


📣 HELPFUL TIPS from STAY CUSHY 📣


After a day full of adventures in the Great Smoky Mountains, you’ll want a comfortable and convenient place to unwind.


That's where our Cushy Cabin comes in! 🏡


Nestled just a short drive from the heart of the park, this cozy home offers all the amenities you need to relax and recharge. With its spacious interiors, modern conveniences, and serene surroundings, Cushy Cabin is the perfect home base for your Smoky Mountains getaway.


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