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Top 15 Things to See & Do in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

1. Cades Cove
A one-way, 11-mile loop takes visitors through 4,000-acre Cades Cove valley, the most visited area of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which boasts an abundance of wildlife (including black bears, deer, foxes, wild turkey and raccoons), as well as preserved pioneer homesteads, an old mill, hiking trails, a 161-site campground and Cades Cove Riding Stables.

2. Clingmans Dome
Named in honor of North Carolina Senator Thomas Lanier Clingman, who helped measure the 6,643-foot Clingmans Dome, is the highest point in the Great Smoky Mountains. Take a 0.5-mile hike along a paved walkway up to a 54-foot-tall observation tower for a spectacular view of the Great Smoky Mountains. Take a seven-mile road off Newfound Gap Road to reach Clingmans Dome, which is usually closed from December through March because of weather conditions.

3. Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail
The one-way, 6-mile-long Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail winds it way through forests and passes by overlooks, streams and waterfalls, as well as the Roaring Fork Historic District. Hiking trails off the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail include the Bullhead Trail, Grapeyard Ridge Trail, Old Sugarlands Trail, Rainbow Falls Trail, Trillium Gap Trail and Twin Creeks Trail.

4. Cataloochee Valley
The remote Cataloochee Valley section of Great Smoky Mountains National Park was once the site of a thriving farm community. It is now home to a variety of wildlife, including black bear, deer, wild turkeys and red wolves. In addition, Cataloochee Valley features historic structures, campsites and hiking trails, including the popular Boogerman Loop Trail.

5. Newfound Gap Road
A scenic, 32-mile stretch of road that winds through Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Newfound Gap Road boasts numerous scenic overlooks, mountain streams, picnic areas, and the Sugarlands and Oconaluftee visitor centers. Don't miss the Rockefeller Memorial, which marks the spot where President Franklin Delano Roosevelt dedicated Great Smoky Mountains National Park in 1940.

6. Laurel Falls
One of the most popular destinations in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, 80-foot-high Laurel Falls can be reached via a moderately difficult, paved hiking trail (2.6 miles round trip).

7. Mount LeConte
The third-tallest mountain in the Great Smoky Mountains, 6,593-foot Mt. LeConte can be reached by five hiking trails: Alum Cave Trail (11 miles round trip), Boulevard Trail (16 miles round trip), Bull Head Trail (14.4 miles round trip), Rainbow Falls Trail (13.4 miles round trip) and Trillium Gap Trail (13.4 miles round trip). Built in 1926, the remote and rustic LeConte Lodge has no electricity, telephones or running water (reservations are usually made up to a year in advance).

8. Alum Cave Trail
Take an incredible, 11-mile round trip hike on the Alum Cave Trail to reach the summit of 6,593-foot Mount LeConte, a great place to view beautiful Smoky Mountain sunrises and sunsets. Mount LeConte is the third-tallest mountain in the Smokies behind Clingmans Dome (6,643 feet) and Mount Guyot (6,621 feet).

9. Mountain Farm Museum
A 19th-century farmstead nestled along the banks of the Oconaluftee River, the Mountain Farm Museum features a farmhouse, barn, apple house, hen house, springhouse and blacksmith shop. During the summer, visitors to the Mountain Farm Museum can view demonstrations and live farm animals.

10. Grotto Falls
Take a three-mile round trip hike on the Trillium Gap Trail, which ascends Mount LeConte, through a hemlock forest to Grotto Falls, one of the most scenic waterfalls in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The Trillium Gap Trail, which can be accessed from the Roaring Form Motor Nature Trail, actually winds behind 25-foot Grotto Falls.

11. Charlies Bunion
A unique mountain characterized by a boulder-like protusion, 5,565-foot Charlies Bunion can be acccessed via the Appalachian Trail, which winds along its Northern face. The summit of Charlies Bunion provides a spectacular view of the Great Smoky Mountains.

12. Chimney Tops
An immensely popular hiking destination within Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Chimney Tops (elevation: 4,800 feet) is a bare rock summit that can be accessed via the Chimney Tops Trail, which lies off Newfound Gap Road.

13. Mingus Mill
Less than one mile down the road from the Oconaluftee Visitor Center lies Mingus Mill, a working grist mill that was built in 1886. Mingus Mill is open daily from 9 AM to 5 PM (mid-March through mid-November).

14. Road to Nowhere

A six-mile scenic drive that was planned in the early 1940s and never completed, the Road to Nowhere, which ends at the mouth of a tunnel, offers a wealth of scenic mountain views, wildlife and hiking trails.

15. Oconaluftee & Sugarlands Visitor Centers
If you are arriving to Great Smoky Mountains National Park via Cherokee, North Carolina, stop by the Oconaluftee Visitor Center, which features maps, brochures, exhibits, a gift shop and restrooms. Adjacent to the Oconaluftee Visitor Center lies the Mountain Farm Museum, a mid-19th-century farmstead. If you are arriving the Great Smoky Mountains National Park via Gatlinburg, Tennessee, stop by the Sugarlands Visitor Center, where you can pick up park maps, view an introductory video to the park and a natural history exhibit.

Westgate Smoky Mountain Resort provides the ideal locale for your Great Smoky Mountains getaway. Nestled on approximately 70 acres adjacent to Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Westgate Smoky Mountain Resort features the 60,000-square-foot Wild Bear Falls water park (the largest indoor water park in the South), two outdoor pools, two hot tubs, fitness facility and 24-hour marketplace. Enjoy award-winning barbecue at the casual Westgate Smokehouse Grill. The adjacent Mason Jar Lounge serves appetizers and snacks along with your favorite beverage. Escape to the new Serenity Spa by Westgate and indulge in a mountain hot stone massage, manicure, pedicure or facial. For more information about Westgate Smoky Mountain Resort, visit