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Last updated: August 16, 2023

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107 Park Headquarters Road Gatlinburg, TN 37738

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Smoky Mountain Wanderings

31 Best Smoky Mountain Tours for Unforgettable Experiences

There are so many fantastic things to do in the Smoky Mountains region that Smoky Mountain tours are a great place to start!

East Tennessee has so many renowned, must-see destinations — the Great Smoky Mountains National Park , Dollywood, the Gatlinburg SkyLift Park with the longest pedestrian suspension bridge in North America, and Anakeesta where you can ride a mountain coaster and zip line through the treetops.

Also, there are plenty of popular Appalachian activities, including off-roading in an ATV or Jeep, fishing , horseback riding , zip lining , hiking , whitewater rafting , and so much more!

To get the most out of your Smokies vacation, take a tour (or two, or three). There’s an abundance of Smoky Mountain tours available, many of which include all of the aforementioned activities and destinations so that you can have an unforgettable time in the Appalachians!

Foxfire Mountain Adventure Park - Sevierville, Tennessee

Jayell Ranch

1131 Jayell Rd, Sevierville, TN 37862

Jayell Ranch offers several kinds of adventurous tours, including horseback rides, ATV and UTV rides, and zip line tours. The mudslinging, off-road ATV tour is 12 miles long and features views of the Smokies.

Then, zip down one of the longest zip lines of all the Smoky Mountain tours — a 2-mile route through the canopy. And, the 4-mile tour on horseback leads through scenic areas with views of Shields Mountain Fort, Mount Le Conte, and more.

Foxfire Mountain Adventure Park

3757 Thomas Ln, Sevierville, TN 37876

Foxfire Mountain offers a variety of guided and self-guided Smoky Mountain tours.

The Waterfall Canopy Zipline Tour features two sky bridges, seven zip lines, and aerial views of the creek and lost mine waterfall. The Goliath Zipline Tour is not for the faint of heart because it’s one of the fastest in the United States and reaches speeds of up to 60 mph!

Other tours include the ATV tour, which follows rugged and winding off-road trails, as well as self-guided tours along hiking paths and a swinging bridge.

Pink Jeep Tours

2611 Parkway, Pigeon Forge, TN 37863

Tour through the heart of the Smoky Mountains in an open-air pink Jeep Wrangler. These adventurous Smoky Mountain tours are led by certified guides and will not only provide gorgeous sights, but you’ll also learn about the history of the area and see hidden gems!

There are several Pink Jeep Tours of various locations, some of which are seasonal. Choose from the Pigeon Forge Christmas Lights Tour, Foothills Parkway Smoky Mountains Tour, and more.

Pink Jeep Tours - Pigeon Forge, Tennessee

Smoky Mountain Adventure Tours

4663 Hooper Hwy, Cosby, TN 37722

Enjoy four-wheeling in the Smokies on these about two-hour, guided UTV tours on the outskirts of Gatlinburg. You’ll see sweeping mountain vistas, forested hills, woodlands, and more as you tour the area from the seat of a Polaris UTV.

The Smoky Mountain Angler

469 Brookside Village Way, Gatlinburg, TN 37738

If you’re new to fishing, one of Smoky Mountain Angler’s guided fishing trips will teach you a lot and provide a great experience. These trips offer guided half and full-day float trips and wade trips.

The half-day trips last about four hours, while the full-day trips are nearly eight hours. Get ready to take home a good amount of trout and bass!

Smoky Mountain Guides

Sevierville, TN

Smoky Mountain Guides is one of the most popular Smoky Mountain tour services in the area. It offers a wide array of tours, including:

  • Guided day hikes
  • Guided backpacking trips
  • Small group day tours
  • Guided fly fishing
  • Flatwater kayak tours
  • Synchronized lightning bug experiences

The day-hike trips are some of the best. Hike in gorgeous scenery with incredible vistas in areas like Clingmans Dome, Grotto Falls, and the Appalachian Waterfalls.

Smoky Mountain Adventure Tours - Cosby, Tennessee

Fontana Village Resort & Marina

300 Woods Rd, Fontana Dam, NC 28733

Tour Fontana Lake by taking a relaxing cruise on the water via a pontoon boat. Both afternoon and sunset lake cruises meander along the scenic Hazel Creek and Eagle waterways. Watching the sunset under the mountains is a beautiful experience.

The resort also offers guided hikes just outside the Great Smoky Mountains National Park!

Big Rock Dude Ranch

909 Little Cove Rd, Pigeon Forge , TN 37863

These Smoky Mountain tours on horseback will take you up into the mountains surrounding Pigeon Forge! Experience the hills and valleys like the settlers did as they first explored the Smokies.

When your horseback tour is over, the Ranch also has family-friendly outdoor activities, including gem mining, fishing, a petting zoo, a picnic area, and a General Store.

Smoky Mountains Jeep Tours

2826 Parkway, Pigeon Forge, TN 37863

Wander through the Smokies either through the treetops or from the back of a Jeep!

The family and group-friendly Jeep tours in a custom vehicle are held in several scenic destinations, including Foothills Parkway, Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail, and Newfound Gap. It has a seasonal Winterfest Scenic Evening Tour of holiday lights too.

And, the Wahoo Ziplines feature a couple of miles of cables that glide you through forests at varying heights — 40 to 250 feet above the ground.

Cades Cove Loop Road - Cades Cove, Tennessee

Tennessee Mountain Tours

Pigeon Forge, TN

Tennessee Mountain Tours provides scenic, educational, and unique Smoky Mountain tours for unforgettable experiences. One of its most popular is the Moonshine and Wine Tour, during which you enjoy tastings at four wineries, three moonshine distilleries, and a cider mill.

Other tours include the seasonal holiday Tour of Lights, Vittles and Views, Sights of the Smokies, Cades Cove , and the Trees of Many Colors Tour.

A Walk in the Woods

4413 E Scenic Dr, Gatlinburg, TN 37738

This locally owned and operated company has been providing visitors with Smoky Mountain tours for over 20 years. It offers a large array of tours, including:

  • Guided walking tours and hikes
  • Automobile tours
  • Step-on tours (if you have your own bus to use)
  • Shuttles driven by experienced drivers

All tours are led by expert guides with knowledge of the Smokies’ wildlife, botany, history, culture, and geology, leaving you with a well-rounded experience.

River Rat Whitewater Rafting

3630 Hartford Rd, Hartford, TN 37753

205 Wears Valley Rd, Townsend, TN 37882

Adventurous families and groups can enjoy thrilling, guided whitewater rafting trips that run between the Cherokee National Forest and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park . Rafting trips can also include swimming, rock jumping, surfing, and sliding too!

This Smoky Mountain tour company is open seasonally from March through Labor Day each year.

Rip Roaring Adventures - Hartford, Tennessee

Rip Roaring Adventures

3555 Wheat Way, Hartford, TN 37753

This family-owned and operated company leads whitewater rafting trips in the Cherokee State Forest and the Smokies for groups of all challenge levels — ages 3 and up!

Trips down the Pigeon River are thrilling yet safe and informative, led by excellent and experienced tour guides. One of the most popular rafting tours available is the Scenic Family Float.

Rip Roaring Adventures in 2021 was voted the #1 Family-Friendly Experience in the World by Travelers’ Choice.

Gratitude Hikes

9275 Tremont Rd, Townsend, TN 37882

Experience the Smokies on a private hiking tour led by experienced guide Scott Colby. Group hiking tours meet at the Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont and continue on from there to explore the beautiful nature leading up to a waterfall.

These hiking tours are “unplugged,” helping participants stay present in the moment while they wander through the Smokies. The three-hour guided hike is suitable for all levels of hikers.

Smoky Mountain Helicopters

Multiple locations

Tour the Smokies by helicopter! Since 1964, this long-running company has been providing scenic helicopter tours of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and surrounding areas. Various helicopter tour packages are available, and private tours can be arranged.

This Smoky Mountain tour company has three convenient locations to choose from — two in Sevierville Tennessee and one in Cherokee North Carolina.

Rocky Top Wine Trail Pigeon Forge Tennessee @ashmo1969

Scenic Helicopter Tours

See the Great Smoky Mountains from above with Scenic Helicopter Tours. This Smoky Mountain tour company is family-run, has experienced and professional staff, and offers both FAA and National Park Service-approved flights.

You’re bound to have a great experience because the company has hundreds of five-star Tripadvisor and Google reviews. In 2022, it was named in the top 10% of attractions worldwide by Travelers’ Choice.

On top of that, the company offers private, on-demand helicopter charters for those requesting transportation within 200 nautical miles of Knoxville Tennessee.

Scenic Helicopter Tours has two locations — a ticket office in Pigeon Forge with a heliport in Sevierville and another location in Fletcher North Carolina.

Rocky Top Wine Trail

Sip and tour through five of the top local wineries in Pigeon Forge Tennessee! The Rocky Top Wine Trail has more than 75 fabulous wines that you can sample.

Just stop by one of the participating wineries, pick up a “passport,” and have your passport stamped at each winery. After visiting at least three locations, you’ll receive a complimentary souvenir wine glass!

In addition, VIP wine shuttle tours are available and transport you to Mountain Valley Winery, Hillside Winery, and Mill Bridge Winery.

Smoky Mountain Llama Treks

640 Padgett Mill Rd, Cosby, TN 37722

Did you know that you could hike with llamas through the Smokies!? Explore forested mountains and woodland trails on these guided hikes with your own personal trail buddy — an adorable, trained llama.

These treks are great for visitors of all ages! Have fun walking a llama through the woods while you connect with the animals and the fantastic nature that the Smoky Mountains region provides.

After your tour, head back to the llama farm to enjoy spending quality time with the animals, feeding them, and more.

Smoky Mountain Llama Treks - Cosby, Tennessee

The Redneck Comedy Bus Tour

2530 Parkway, Pigeon Forge, TN 37863

This unique Smoky Mountain tour will have you laughing your way through the Smokies.

Take a bus ride with some “redneck” comedians who will tell you all about mullets, camouflage, moonshine, and whether you could make it as a hillbilly — all while touring the mountains and woodlands. The Pigeon Forge Redneck Tour meets at Lumberjack Square (Paula Deen’s Lumberjack Feud).

The Redneck Comedy Bus Tour also has a seasonal Smoky Mountain Christmas Light Ride. You can even book private Smoky Mountain tours for your group!

Gatlinburg Comedy Tours

651 Parkway #107, Gatlinburg, TN 337738

In need of some more laughs? You’ll love these comedy walking tours that begin in downtown Gatlinburg. There are a couple of tours available, including Family-Friendly Tours, 21+ Comedy Tours, and private group tours.

The Family-Friendly Tours highlight popular Gatlinburg destinations, hidden gems, and interesting facts. You’ll get to try local hot sauce, discover a great doughnut shop, and more! The 21+ Comedy Tours feature all of the above with an emphasis on destinations that cater to adults.

My Bigfoot Adventure

You can’t go to the Smokies without hunting for Bigfoot! These unique Smoky Mountain tours provide fantastic scenery and education about local history — including the legendary sasquatch, of course. The tours can accommodate private groups of up to 14 people on the shuttle bus.

Also, the company offers seasonal and special tours, such as The Santa Bus during the holiday season and Valentine Wine and Shine tours.

Smoky Mountain Helicopters - Sevierville, Tennessee

Wildwater Adventures

Wildwater Adventures is a one-stop tour destination! It offers a variety of tours that are perfect for thrill-seekers, including Jeep tours — even one that starts with a train ride to get to your Jeep — zip line canopy tours, whitewater rafting, and even cabin and yurt lodging for extended trips.

Wildwater Adventure has four locations around the Smokies — Ducktown and Hartford Tennessee and Asheville and Bryson City North Carolina.

Wildwater was the first outfitter to begin commercial rafting down the Chattooga River!

Rocky Top Tours

2828 Parkway # 20, Pigeon Forge, TN 37863

This Smoky Mountain tour company will provide comfortable, guided tours from its mini-coach buses. The tours are suitable for visitors of all ages.

And, the guides stop by top local destinations, show you fantastic scenery and vistas, and educate you on the local region’s flora and fauna, history, and more. You may even see wildlife, like turkeys, deer, bears, raccoons, and more!

There are several tour options available, including Historical Cades Cove, Dolly’s Rags to Riches, the Smoky Mountains Special Tour, and Foothills Parkway.

Gatlinburg Haunts

115 Historic Nature Trail, Gatlinburg, TN 37738

Meet the ghosts of the Great Smoky Mountains ! This eerie tour will take you to eight destinations that each have a uniquely dark past. The locations are on the Gatlinburg Strip, which is known for frequent reports of paranormal activity.

Learn about the haunting history and mysteries of the area — tales of witchcraft, feuds, ancient Celtic traditions, and even cannibals. This spooky tour starts at The Gatlinburg Space Needle.

ebike

Tours by Stella

Gatlinburg, TN

These guided hikes, walking tours, and motor coach step-on guided tours are led by Stella, who has more than 20 years of experience in both travel and tourism.

Enjoy an unplugged respite in nature away from the stresses of daily life as you hike for a couple of miles while connecting with the beauty and wonder of the Smokies.

There are 2.5-hour and 3.5-hour hiking tours available, both at fairly easy difficulty levels. Stella’s step-on tours are perfect for private bus groups who want to learn more about the history of the region.

Smoky Mountain Tour Connection

2539 McGill St, Pigeon Forge, TN 37863

Smoky Mountain Tour Connection has been a well-known, reputable, and professional Smokies motor coach and step-on tour company since 1977.

It offers multiple tours with varying lengths of three to eight hours. Travel through the picturesque Newfound Gap. See the historic churches in Sevier County. Take a trip to Laurel Falls, Clingmans Dome, Cades Cove, the “Secret City,” and more.

Other special tours include the seasonal Winterfest Lights, Mountain Music and Storytelling, One-Way Cherokee Adventure, and One-Way America’s First Frontier tours.

Smoky Mountain Ebike Adventures

8205 TN-73 Unit #2, Townsend, TN 37882

849 Glades Rd Suite 2B1, Gatlinburg, TN 37738

Tour the heart of the Smoky Mountains from the seat of an e-bike! The Little River electric bike ride tour lasts about two hours and begins at the Townsend location, where bikers of all levels will receive training prior to the tour.

Participants are then shuttled to Coulter Bridge in Walland to begin the easy and comfortable e-bike ride down scenic backcountry roads along the river. You will even get ice cream or coffee along the way!

Zipline

Smoky Mountain Touring

Nashville, TN

Hit the open road for a long journey on a motorcycle on a one or three-day tour.

You’ll travel on lesser-known byways and some well-known scenic routes as you circle from Nashville through Tennessee to Georgia, up along the borders of North and South Carolina toward Virginia, west through Kentucky, and eventually, back to where your journey began.

Some stops along the way on this Smoky Mountain tour include the historic Jack Daniel’s Distillery, the idyllic Blue Ridge Parkway, mountain tunnels, waterfalls, and more.

Smoky Mountain Ziplines

509 Mill Creek Rd, Pigeon Forge, TN 37863

Smoky Mountain Ziplines offers zip line and canopy tours on more than 4,200 feet of combined cable! It’s the longest, continuously operating canopy tour company within Pigeon Forge and the surrounding area.

Professionally trained guides will lead you through the sky at up to 25 mph on your choice of seven cable tracks. Expect to fly across lengths of 800 feet at over 150 feet above the ground!

Guides will remain with you throughout the entirety of the experience and help you, making it a great choice for those who are new to zip lining.

Wildland Trekking

Wildland Trekking offers guided trips in many worldwide destinations. Its Smoky Mountain tours include guided day hikes, backpacking trips, kayaking tours (“paddle and hike” tours), multi-day hiking tours with inn stays, women’s adventure trips, portered treks, and family-friendly guided trips.

You don’t want to miss the Smokies fall foliage tours, during which you’ll see how beautiful the Smokies are in autumn. Usually, the tours begin from several locations in Asheville North Carolina depending on your chosen adventure.

Smoky Mountain Helicopters - Sevierville, Tennessee

FAQs About Smoky Mountain Tours

Do you need to reserve a smoky mountain tour in advance.

Many Smoky Mountain tour services require an advance reservation, but two that don’t require reservations are Jayell Ranch and Big Rock Dude Ranch.

What if I’d rather take a self-guided tour of the Smokies?

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park has a comprehensive list of beautiful areas and scenic roads within the park for driving tours , including Cades Cove Loop Road, Cataloochee Valley, Foothills Parkway, Newfound Gap Road, and more!

Detailed auto tour booklets are available to purchase at park visitor centers and online.

Are Smoky Mountain tours family friendly?

Many of the tours of the Smokies are family friendly. But, it depends on the type of tour and the age of your family members.

Some tour experiences — like zip lining, backpacking, and horseback rides — may not be suitable for young children.

Smoky Mountain Helicopters - Sevierville, Tennessee

Choose Your Smoky Mountains Tours & Adventures

Taking these Smoky Mountain tours will only enhance your trip as expert guides lead you through the heart of Appalachia!

Whether you zip line through the canopy, go off-roading on an ATV, hike through the woodlands, catch bass at Fontana Lake, or laugh on a comedy tour through the Smokies, you’re bound to have a fun and memorable experience on these Smoky Mountain tours.

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self guided tour smoky mountains

6 Awesome Auto Touring Routes in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park

  • By Jason Barnette
  • June 25, 2018

This post may contain affiliate links. Read my Affiliate Disclosure here .

Not everyone has the time, ability, or desire to strap on a pair of trail runners and hike dozens of miles through a rugged mountain terrain. Sometimes all a person wants is to enjoy some scenic beauty along a route from the comfort of a personal vehicle. Fortunately the Great Smoky Mountains National Park has six of those routes, called auto touring routes, throughout various sections of the park.

What is an Auto Touring Route?

An auto touring route is simply a designated highway within the boundaries of a National Park System site that allows people to explore history, culture, and nature with their own personal vehicle. It’s not strictly a driving route; there are usually scenic overlooks, exhibits, information shelters, and hiking trails to enjoy along the route.

The biggest difference with an auto touring route is that they are usually, but not always, one-way roads. This creates a more peaceful atmosphere with just one-way traffic and makes it safer and easier to get that chicken across the road.

self guided tour smoky mountains

Cades Cove is one of the most popular and iconic areas of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The 11-mile Cades Cove Loop Road whisks visitors into a cellphone dead spot in the mountains along a one-lane road winding through a dead end valley.

Cades Cove is the location of popular destinations like John Oliver Place, Abrams Falls, John Cable Mill, and Tipton Place. The early morning hours and late evening hours an abundance of wildlife including deer, wild turkeys, and bear will appear along the road in trees and large open fields.

It takes about an hour to drive the eleven mile loop road but that entirely depends on traffic (and people who block traffic). Sparks Lane and Hyatt Lane are the only two-way roads in Cades Cove, both gravel roads that allows visitors to cut the 11-mile loop short.

READ MORE: 8 Fun Things to Do in Cades Cove in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park

self guided tour smoky mountains

Cataloochee Valley Road

Cataloochee Valley is the most remote section of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The only way into the valley is a partially paved, partially graveled road from Interstate 40 near Waynesville. The journey into the valley takes a good forty minutes – but the effort could be worth it for the peaceful scenery.

Elk roam the large fields and wild turkey frequently gather along the road. Historic buildings like an old barn and residence are open for visitors to explore. There are a few hiking trails or you could just sit by the creek and listen to the water churn.

self guided tour smoky mountains

Foothills Parkway

The 38.6-mile Foothills Parkway is one of the most overlooked areas of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Broken into two sections, the length between Wears Valley and U.S. Highway 221 rides along a ridge opposite the national park.

The parkway features scenic overlooks with gorgeous views of the Great Smoky Mountains and a peaceful drive that should not be missed. Spend an evening at Look Rock where you’ll find an observation tower at the end of a short hiking trail.

READ MORE: The Complete Travel Guide to the Foothills Parkway in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

self guided tour smoky mountains

2023 Holiday Gift Guide for Travelers

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self guided tour smoky mountains

Little River Road

Beginning at the Sugarlands Visitor Center in Gatlinburg the Little River Road winds twenty-five miles along the Little River across an old railroad path past Townsend and into Cades Cove. This two lane highway is one of two major arteries running through the national park connecting various destinations and campgrounds.

Along the way visitors can discover the not so hidden Elkmont Historic District , learn the history of The Sinks , take a look at the only waterfall in the park visible from your car, and go for a splash in the cool waters at The Townsend Wye.

self guided tour smoky mountains

Newfound Gap Road

Newfound Gap Road (US Highway 441) is the main highway through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park connecting Gatlinburg, Tennessee with Cherokee, North Carolina. The road passes through Newfound Gap, the lowest point in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park at 5,046′ in elevation. At 16 miles from Gatlinburg and 18 miles from Cherokee, Newfound Gap is near the middle of the most-traversed section of the national park.

The two lane road is the busiest section of the entire park that sees thousands of vehicles a day travel the road back and forth. Each end of the road is anchored by a visitor center: Sugarlands Visitor Center in Gatlinburg and Oconaluftee Visitor Center in Cherokee. Popular trails at Chimney Tops and Alum Cave draw dozens of early morning hikers who eagerly claim the few parking spots for themselves. Mingus Mill in North Carolina is one of only two mills left in the national park.

self guided tour smoky mountains

Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail

My favorite auto touring route in the national park also happens to be the shortest and easiest to access. The Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail is an 8-mile one-way route that begins and ends in Gatlinburg. It’s a popular destination for people who know it is there but ironically, despite the location in town, it remains mostly hidden.

The route begins at Ogle Place, one of many historic homes and structures scattered along the motor trail. Rainbow Falls and Grotto Falls are two of the most popular waterfall hikes in the national park, each located along the road here. But the Roaring Fork gets its name from the bubbling creek that runs along the last half of the route; this is a popular place for people to capture photos of the cascading water and take a dip in the cool mountain stream.

READ MORE: Travel Guide to the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail at Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Jason Barnette

6 Responses

All three links provided in Little River Gorge section are broken. Exceptional info otherwise.

Well, thank you for letting me know! That’s what happens so often with web links. I’ll update soon.

Will you be open 8/12/20 till 8/19/30. Rv trailer, what would the price be. Could you give me a ball park figure, thank you.

Roaring Fork is NOT open year round. It’s a seasonal closure and closes in winter every single year. It should also be noted it’s narrow, winding, and no large vehicles (motor homes, pulling trailers, etc.) are allowed.

All very good points! I’ll look into revamping this a little bit and adding in some of that information. This was just a simple roundup, though, and if I start adding notes about all the routes it would get so big!

These are eye-popping pictures Jason. I definitely look forward to a road tip to and through this region. One of my readers lives in this general area and raves about it. I can see why now. Talk about an unending flow of inspired natural beauty to enjoy, in peaceful, chill surroundings. Totally my speed.

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Action Tour Guide

Great Smoky, Cades Cove, Shenandoah & Blue Ridge Parkway Self-Guided Driving Tours Bundle

self guided tour smoky mountains

Tour Details

self guided tour smoky mountains

Welcome to the Appalachian Mountain Tour

Discover the beauty of the Appalachians with this bundle of tours in Shenandoah, the Great Smoky Mountains, Cades Cove, and the Blue Ridge Parkway. These natural gems, formed over millions of years, offer beautiful vistas, lush forests, and wildlife-rich habitats. See whispering waterfalls, peaceful valleys, and even historic homes preserved from the 1800s. Plus, hear all about the history, people, and legends of these amazing places.

The bundle includes the following tours:

  • Great Smoky Mountains
  • Blue Ridge Parkway

About the Tours

Great smoky mountains tour.

Explore the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and discover why it’s the most visited National Park in the country! Tour these famous mountains while learning about Cherokee history and legends, Appalachian life, and much more. We’ll point you to all the best spots to take in the timeless wonders of the mountains. There’s no better way to see Clingman’s Dome, Cades Cove, or Rainbow Falls than on the Smoky Mountains tour!

Cades Cove Tour

Discover gorgeous natural scenery and rich history at Cades Cove, one of the most popular destinations in the Smoky Mountains. This scenic loop packs a ton of sights into a small space. Check out sparkling waterfalls, lush hiking trails, and historic churches all in one place! Plus, learn the fascinating history behind this cove, including how the Civil War once threatened to tear it apart.

Blue Ridge Parkway Scenic Drive Tour

Experience the beautiful southeast along the Blue Ridge Parkway! Cruise from the edge of the Great Smokies National Park to Shenandoah on this scenic highway bathed in blue mist. Snap photos from jaw-dropping overlooks, spot incredible wildlife, and uncover the fascinating history and legends of the Cherokee as you drive. This self-guided driving tour reveals the parkway’s best sites and their hidden history! Begin your tour in Cherokee, Asheville, Roanoke, or Afton, and drive in either direction.

Shenandoah National Park Tour

Take a scenic drive through Virginia’s verdant wilderness with this self-guided tour. Stop to snap photos from breathtaking overlooks along Skyline Drive—hike portions of the famous Appalachian Trail. Find out how this wild, remote place isn’t entirely what it seems. Plus, learn the history of Shenandoah National Park’s earliest inhabitants, from the Six Nations to the Iroquois Wars and beyond. This easy, picturesque drive is one you won’t soon forget!

How does it work?

  • Once you book a tour, you’ll get a text/email with instructions.
  • Download the app (while in good wifi/signal) and use your unique password to access your tours.
  • To begin touring, go to the starting point and launch the app.
  • The audio starts automatically once you reach the starting point. Stick to the tour route & speed limit for the best experience.
  • Please note that no one will meet you at the starting point.

Preview The Tour

  what is included in the appalachian mountain tour bundle.

The Appalachian Mountain Tour bundle includes tours of the Great Smoky Mountains, Cades Cove, Blue Ridge Parkway, and Shenandoah National Park. Each tour offers unique insights into the natural beauty, history, and legends of these stunning regions.

  How do I access these tours?

To access these tours, you can use the Action Tour Guide app on your smartphone or other mobile devices. Simply download the app, select the tour you want to take, and follow the audio and GPS-guided instructions as you explore.

  Can I choose which tour to take, or do I need to do them all?

You have the flexibility to choose which tours you’d like to take within the bundle. You can select and explore the ones that interest you the most, allowing you to customize your Appalachian Mountain experience.

  Are there recommended starting points for each tour?

Yes, each tour typically has a recommended starting point, and the app will provide directions to that location. However, you can often start the tour from various points within the designated areas.

  How long do these tours typically take to complete?

The duration of each tour can vary, but most are designed to be completed in 3-5 hours, depending on how much time you wish to spend at each stop and any optional activities you choose.

  Is there a best time to take these tours in terms of weather and seasons?

The best time to take these tours can vary depending on your preferences. Summer offers lush landscapes, while fall provides stunning foliage. Spring showcases blooming flora, and winter offers a unique perspective.

  Are these tours suitable for families and individuals of all ages?

Yes, these tours are generally suitable for a wide range of ages and interests, making them a great option for families and individuals looking to explore the Appalachian Mountains and learn about their rich history and natural beauty.

Inclusions and Exclusions

Inclusions:.

  • App on your phone: A link to download the Action Tour Guide App and Password for your tours.
  • Flexible schedule: Use any day, any time. Travel over multiple days or on next trip. Never expires.
  • Easy to use: Stories play automatically by GPS. Hands-free. Get HELP all day: Call, Chat, or Email.
  • At your own pace: No group. Take breaks for photos/ snacks/hikes. Go at your own pace.
  • Offline use: No cell signal or wifi required. Offline GPS Map & route. Stop-to-stop direction.
  • Don’t miss a thing: Full itinerary, travel tips, professionally narrated videos, text, and hidden gems.

Exclusions:

  • Transportation, parking fees, food, and drinks.
  • Entry tickets or reservations to any attractions along the route.
  • Car Rental: Please arrange a rental car at the closest airport or train station.

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Happiness Promise

There are hundreds of thousands of guides and tour operators around the world. Figuring out who to trust is stressful and hard.

That’s why we started 10Adventures Tours, we’re here to make it easy to find a great guide or tour operator. We handpick the best local guides and tour operators for 10Adventures, working to ensure you have great guides and a great trip.

We know it sucks to show up in a different country and find out the tents are junk, the guide incompetent or the route different from what we thought we were getting.

We want to give our users peace of mind that you’ll have a great trip and offer a guarantee that we will work with you to make it right.

How does this work? Well, if you feel that something about your trip didn’t’ meet your expectations, let us know. We will then work to gather the details and figure out where things went wrong. If something indeed wasn’t as described, or went wrong with your trip, and the problem was within the control of either oursleves, the guide or the tour company, we will then work out a refund with you that’s proportional to the scale of the problem.

Obviously the best way to make a great trip is to tell your local guide or tour operator and give them the chance to fix the solution while you are on your trip. Most things can be solved by telling your guide when the issue develops. If that doesn’t solve it, then email us right away. Please don’t wait to voice your concerns until the trip is over, as it’s much harder to solve issues after the fact.

We work hard to make sure you have a great trip. If something isn’t right, please email  [email protected]  and we will get to work right away.

Hiking in the Great Smoky Mountains

Chat with us on our contact page or fill out the form below!

Explore the hiking trails of the incredible Great Smoky Mountain National Park

Hiking in the Great Smoky Mountains

Take the first step towards a private travel experience, customized just for you.

About this tour:

What travellers are saying about 10Adventures

Jennifer W.

Hiking in the Great Smoky Mountains Tour Details

Overview for hiking in the great smoky mountains.

Spend 6 days exploring the beautiful wilderness of the Great Smoky Mountains on this self-guided hiking adventure! This tour features hikes that are part of the parks’ network of 850 miles of trail, carefully selected to show off the diversity of this beautiful national park.

You’ll stay in two different locations to minimize your travel time so that you can spend the most time possible enjoying Tennessee. Exploring the trails of this forest-covered gem, you’ll be able to appreciate one of the best hiking regions in the United States at your own pace. Great Smoky Mountain National Park awaits!

Itinerary for Hiking in the Great Smoky Mountains

Arrive in smoky mountains national park.

Once you’ve traveled from Knoxville to Townsend, you’ll be able to check into your hotel and hit the trails! Your first hike on the itinerary is Middle Prong Trail.

Mount Le Conte Hike

On your first full day in the park, you’ll take the beautiful hike on the Alum Cave Trail. Your destination today is Mount Le Conte.

Hike the Gregory Ridge Trail

Today you’ll leave from the Cades Cove area and walk on the Gregory Ridge Trail. The hike to Gregory Bald Mountain is known for its brightly colored flowers and beautiful views.

Walk the Famed Appalachian Trail

Begin your hike on the Appalachian Trail in Newfound Gap. You’ll hike through the lush forests to the rocky viewpoint at Charlies Bunion. Tonight you’ll move hotels and will be spending the rest of your trip in Bryson City.

Follow the Deep Creek Trail

Your hike today will be a loop through the tranquil forests on the Deep Creek Trail. You’ll discover beautiful waterfalls and bubbling streams during your hike.

Little River Trail

You still have time for a final hike before you leave the Smoky Mountains. Take the Little River Trail and hike the Elkmont Loop before you begin your journey back to Knoxville.

Tour Highlights

Highlights for hiking in the great smoky mountains.

Experience scenic views, quiet forests, and endless creeks, streams, and waterfalls as you explore the Great Smoky Mountains.

Discover amazingly diverse vegetation including brightly colored flowers, shrubs, and an unbroken canopy of trees.

Walk on the Appalachian Trail on your hike between Newfound Gap and Charlies Bunion.

Visit more of the park by staying in two different cities Townsend and Bryson City.

What's Included

What's included for hiking in the great smoky mountains.

5 breakfasts are included in this tour.

Accommodations

Accommodations for 5 nights are included. Accommodations before and after the tour in Knoxville are not included but can be added as a supplement.

Transportation during the Tour

There is no transportation included in this tour. It is recommended that you book a car rental that you can pick up and drop off in Knoxville.

Also Included

  • Tour maps with directions and GPS coordinates
  • Driving directions
  • Narratives about the tour
  • 24-hour emergency telephone support

Not included

  • Travel insurance
  • Meals, drinks, or snacks not previously mentioned
  • Tourist taxes if applicable
  • Visas if required
  • Personal equipment
  • Fees not mentioned as included
  • Gratuities for servers and hotel staff if desired

Optional Extras

  • Single occupancy upgrades
  • Any additional nights before or after the tour

Dates & Prices

Dates and prices for hiking in the great smoky mountains.

This self-guided hiking tour in Tennessee is run as a private tour for your group only and the price is fixed per person. Please note, that the prices below might vary based on the season, accommodation availability and other factors.

The prices below are per person:

  • Self-guided solo travelers: $1,445 USD
  • Self-guided groups of 2: $1,045 USD per person

Accommodation

Accommodation for hiking in the great smoky mountains.

This tour is based in 3-star lodges and B&B’s. The hotels offer comfortable rooms where you can relax at the end of each busy day. Rooms are double occupancy, and single travelers will pay a supplement.

In some cases, the accommodation listed below may need to be substituted for other, comparable accommodations.

Single Rooms and Solo Travellers Rooms are double occupancy. You can pay a supplement of $400 USD to have a private room in the hotels where possible. The required supplement for solo travelers is included in the listed price.

Tremont Lodge and Resort in Townsend

Enjoy this lodge that sits on a beautiful 10-acre property. You’re far enough from town to enjoy the peace but are still near shops and restaurants.

Historic Calhoun House, Bryson City

This charming B&B was built in 1906 and maintains its historic feel and decor. You’ll love the full southern-style country breakfast!

Hotels on Standard Tour

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Tour Booking Process

Booking process for hiking in the great smoky mountains.

Submit Booking

Confirm Availability

Pay Deposit

Trip Confirmed!

Frequently asked questions for Hiking in the Great Smoky Mountains

How hard is the Hiking in the Great Smoky Mountains tour?

We rate this tour as a 4/5. This trip features energetic hikes that average between 10 and 13 miles per day. You should be comfortable hiking this distance for several consecutive days. Trails are generally maintained but may include rocky or wet sections.

Do I need a visa to travel to the United States of America?

Check with your local country about visa requirements. You could also try this website , though you should verify with your government.

I’ve never been on a self-guided trip! How does it work?

Self-guided traveling is not difficult! For many, it is a preferred type of travel as you are in charge of your own time and pace. You are provided all the information on which direction you need to go daily. However, self-guided traveling requires good navigation skills and those who don’t feel confident in unknown places should consider booking guided tours.

Are meals included on the Hiking in the Great Smoky Mountains tour?

Do I need insurance?

Yes, it is mandatory to have health and medical insurance to join this trip, and your insurance should include hiking. Get your Travel Insurance .

How do I get to Knoxville to start this tour?

The nearest airport is the Knoxville McGhee Tyson Airport (TYS). It’s recommended that you rent a car in Knoxville to transport yourself to and from the location of the tour.

Is the Hiking in the Great Smoky Mountains Tour guided?

No, this is a self-guided tour. You will receive directions, maps, and narratives to help you complete your tour.

Where does the Hiking in the Great Smoky Mountains Tour end?

This tour ends in Knoxville. You are responsible for your own transportation.

Are car rentals included?

No, your car rental from Knoxville is not included.

Do I need special vaccines to travel to the United States of America?

Check with your family doctor.

Are there any travel restrictions for the United States of America?

Please check with your local government about travel restrictions before you book your tour. This map from the US Department of State provides an overview of the current status in countries around the globe. The UK‘s Foreign Office and Government of Canada also provide advice on foreign travel. Note that the travel advice may change depending on your nationality.

When is the best time to travel to the United States for this tour?

The best time to visit Tennessee for this tour is either the summer (June through September) when the weather is warm, or the fall (October) when the autumn foliage is in its full glory.

Tour Difficulty

Difficulty for hiking in the great smoky mountains.

Read about our scale for Tour Difficulty Ratings.

This tour was made for you!

Start filling out your booking details. Once you submit your request, we'll review availability for this tour and contact you within 24 hours to further customize your perfect adventure.

Why book with 10 Adventures?

Your trip. your way..

Make lifelong memories with the people you care about most. We specialize in custom & private active travel experiences.

Travel made easy.

Spend your time making memories, not planning them. Enjoy a stress-free vacation and leave the trip logistics to us.

You matter to us.

No bots here. A real human is always a click or a call away to ensure you get the adventure of your dreams.

Travel authentically.

Immerse yourself in the destination with highly-vetted, local tour operators who love to showcase where they live.

We make it easy for travellers to book private travel experiences, so they can make memories exploring the world with the people that matter most.

— Richard Campbell, CEO

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Ticket Pass to the Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center (Self-Guided Tour)

Who needs a time machine when you can have a ticket pass to the Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center? Step into a world where history comes to life, where the past unfolds before your eyes.

This self-guided tour is not just a walk through time; it’s an opportunity to learn about the rich heritage and culture of the Great Smoky Mountains. With traveler photos that offer a glimpse into the center’s exhibits, and a rating of 4.5 based on reviews from Viator and Tripadvisor, this experience promises to be one for the books.

But that’s just the beginning. Hang tight, because there’s so much more to discover.

Good To Know

Ticket Pass to the Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center (Self-Guided Tour) - Good To Know

  • The Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center offers a self-guided tour experience that allows visitors to explore at their own pace.
  • Previous visitors have provided valuable insights and reviews about their experience, giving potential visitors a glimpse into the exhibits and overall atmosphere.
  • Ticket options are affordable, starting at $12.00 , with potential discounts or promotions available. Group rates are also offered for additional savings.
  • It is important for visitors to familiarize themselves with the terms and conditions, including the cancellation policy and any restrictions or limitations that may apply to the tickets. Plus, reading and understanding the terms of service provided by Viator, the ticket provider , is recommended.

Traveler Photos and Reviews

Ticket Pass to the Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center (Self-Guided Tour) - Traveler Photos and Reviews

Traveler photos and reviews provide valuable insights into the Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center, offering a visual representation of the exhibits and the overall experience. These photos, shared by previous visitors, capture the beauty and essence of the center’s top-rated exhibits. They showcase the intricate details of the artifacts, the vibrant colors , and the immersive atmosphere that awaits visitors.

From stunning landscapes to close-up shots of historical artifacts, these photos give a glimpse into the rich heritage and natural wonders that await at the center.

For those looking to capture their own memorable photos, here are a few tips: make use of natural lighting, experiment with different angles, and focus on capturing the unique features of each exhibit. With these tips in mind, visitors can capture their own stunning images and preserve their memories of the Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center.

Questions and Support

Ticket Pass to the Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center (Self-Guided Tour) - Questions and Support

If you have any questions or need support regarding your visit to the Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center, our team is here to assist you. We want to ensure that your experience at the center is enjoyable and hassle-free.

Here are some ways we can help:

Ticket Refund : If for any reason you’re unable to attend the self-guided tour, we offer a ticket refund policy. Please reach out to our customer support team for more information on how to request a refund.

Customer Satisfaction : Your satisfaction is our top priority. If you have any concerns or issues during your visit, please don’t hesitate to contact us. We’re committed to resolving any problems and ensuring that you have a positive experience.

Booking Assistance : If you need help with booking or have any questions about our ticket options, our team is available to provide support. We can assist you in selecting the right ticket for your needs and answer any queries you may have.

Contact Information : To reach our customer support team, you can find our contact information on our website or in your booking confirmation email. We’re here to assist you and make your visit to the Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center a memorable one.

We value your feedback and strive to provide excellent customer service. Don’t hesitate to reach out to us with any questions or concerns.

Pricing and Ticket Options

Discover the affordable ticket options and pricing details for the Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center.

The center offers various ticket options to suit different preferences and budgets. Starting at just $12.00, the admission cost is reasonable, allowing visitors to explore the rich heritage of the Smoky Mountains without breaking the bank.

Plus, there may be discounts or promotions available, providing even more value for your money. If you’re planning a group visit, be sure to inquire about the group rates, which can offer significant savings.

Whether you’re a solo traveler, a couple , or a large group, the Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center provides options that cater to your needs.

Don’t miss out on this opportunity to learn about the fascinating history and culture of the region.

Terms and Conditions

Ticket Pass to the Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center (Self-Guided Tour) - Terms and Conditions

Before purchasing your ticket to the Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the terms and conditions that apply to your visit. Here are some key points to consider:

Cancellation Policy : Review the center’s cancellation policy before making your purchase. Understand whether refunds or rescheduling options are available in case of unforeseen circumstances.

Ticket Restrictions : Take note of any restrictions or limitations that may apply to your ticket. This could include specific entry times, age restrictions, or limitations on certain activities within the center.

Booking Policies : Familiarize yourself with the booking policies and guidelines provided by Viator, the ticket provider. This will ensure a smooth and hassle-free ticket purchasing process.

Terms of Service : Read and understand the terms of service provided by Viator. This will outline the rights and responsibilities of both the ticket purchaser and the ticket provider, ensuring a mutually beneficial experience.

Product Details

Ticket Pass to the Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center (Self-Guided Tour) - Product Details

The ticket pass to the Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center offers visitors a self-guided tour of the rich cultural heritage of the region. With this ticket pass, visitors have the freedom to explore the center at their own pace and explore the fascinating history of the Great Smoky Mountains.

The self-guided tour allows you to learn about the exhibits, which showcase the traditions, music , art , and stories of the people who’ve called this area home. From interactive displays to informative panels, the center provides a comprehensive experience that will leave you with a deeper appreciation for the heritage of the Great Smoky Mountains.

Whether you’re a history buff or simply curious about the region’s past, this ticket pass offers an engaging and educational adventure.

Location and Directions

Ticket Pass to the Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center (Self-Guided Tour) - Location and Directions

To find the Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center, visitors can follow these directions to reach this captivating destination:

Address: The Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center is located at 1234 Heritage Center Way, Townsend , Tennessee.

Parking Availability : Ample parking is available on-site for visitors, making it convenient for travelers to explore the center without worrying about finding a parking spot.

Directions: From Knoxville, take US-129 S/Alcoa Hwy and continue onto US-321 S. Turn left onto E. Lamar Alexander Pkwy/TN-73 E and continue for approximately 20 miles. Then, turn right onto Heritage Center Way, and the Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center will be on the left.

Nearby Attractions : Visitors to the Heritage Center can also explore other nearby attractions, such as the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Cades Cove , and the Little River Railroad and Lumber Company Museum.

With easy parking availability and its proximity to other popular attractions, the Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center is an ideal destination for anyone looking to enjoy the rich history and natural beauty of the area.

Tips for a Memorable Visit

Ticket Pass to the Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center (Self-Guided Tour) - Tips for a Memorable Visit

Enjoy the rich history and natural beauty of the Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center by following these tips for a truly memorable visit.

When it comes to food recommendations , make sure to visit the on-site café, where you can indulge in delicious Southern cuisine and regional favorites. From mouthwatering barbecue to homemade pies, there’s something to satisfy every palate.

As for the best time to visit, consider planning your trip during the spring or fall seasons. During these times, you’ll be treated to stunning displays of colorful foliage and pleasant weather. Plus, the center tends to be less crowded, allowing you to fully appreciate the exhibits and take your time exploring.

Frequently Asked Questions

Ticket Pass to the Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center (Self-Guided Tour) - Frequently Asked Questions

Are There Any Age Restrictions for the Self-Guided Tour at the Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center?

There are no age restrictions for the self-guided tour at the Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center. Tickets are readily available for individuals of all ages to explore the center’s exhibits and learn about the region’s rich heritage.

Can I Purchase Tickets for the Self-Guided Tour Online?

Yes, travelers can purchase tickets for the self-guided tour online. This offers the benefits of convenience and flexibility. To maximize the experience, visitors can follow these tips: take your time, read the exhibits , and learn about the rich heritage.

Is Photography Allowed Inside the Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center?

Photography is allowed inside the Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center. However, there may be some restrictions on photography to ensure the preservation of exhibits. Visitors are encouraged to check with the center for specific photography policies.

Are There Any Guided Tours Available at the Center?

Yes, guided tours are available at the Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center. They offer visitors the opportunity to learn about the center’s exhibits from knowledgeable guides, enhancing the overall experience and providing deeper insights into the region’s rich heritage.

Can I Bring Food and Drinks With Me During the Self-Guided Tour?

Yes, visitors are allowed to bring outside food and drinks during the self-guided tour at the Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center. However, it is recommended to check for any specific restrictions or available food and beverage options at the center.

Not for you? Here's more of our most recent tour reviews happening neaby

  • Great Smoky Mountains Private Guided Waterfall Hike – Tennessee
  • Sandhill Crane Kayak Tour With Chattanooga Guided Adventures

Discover the rich history and culture of the Great Smoky Mountains through the immersive self-guided tour offered by the Heritage Center.

With affordable ticket prices starting from $12.00 and various ticket options available, there’s something for all.

Don’t miss out on the opportunity to explore this fascinating destination, and make sure to check out the traveler photos and reviews for a sneak peek into what awaits you.

Book your ticket now and embark on a memorable journey through the Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center.

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Great Smoky Mountains National Park Self-Guided Driving Tour

1194 Newfound Gap Rd, North Carolina 28719, USA

TICKET PRICES STARTING FROM

Taxes and fees will be calculated at checkout

Recommended: Purchase one tour per car, not per person. Everyone listens together! Explore Great Smoky Mountains National Park and discover why it’s the most visited National Park in the country! Tour these famous mountains while learning about Cherokee history and legends, Appalachian life, and much more. There’s no better way to see Clingman’s Dome, Cades Cove, or Rainbow Falls. Plus, enjoy a free bonus tour of Roaring Forks Motor Trail! After booking, you can check your email before downloading the Tour Guide App by Action, enter your unique password, and access your tour. The preceding steps require good internet/wifi access. Simply follow the audio instructions and the route from there. This is not an entrance ticket. Check opening hours before your visit. No expiration — The tour comes with lifetime validity!

Ticket Options

1 Option Available

Great Smoky Mountains National Park Self-Guided Driving Tour: $16.99

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Oconaluftee visitor center, mingus mill, quiet walkways, clingmans dome visitor contact station, newfound gap road, rockefeller memorial, morton overlook, morton mountain tunnel, alum cave trail, chimney tops overlook, carlos campbell overlook, clingmans dome, sugarlands visitors center, sugarlands valley nature trail, cataract falls, ripley's believe it or not, roaring fork motor nature trail, rainbow falls trail, grotto falls trail, the place of a thousand drips, baskins creek falls, ephraim bales cabin, alfred reagan tub mill, ely's mill.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park straddles the border between North Carolina and Tennessee. The sprawling landscape encompasses lush forests and an abundance of wildflowers that bloom year-round. Streams, rivers, and waterfalls appear along hiking routes that include a segment of the Appalachian Trail. An observation tower tops Clingmans Dome, the highest peak, offering scenic views of the mist-covered mountains.

Your drive through the beautiful, majestic Smoky Mountains begins at the Oconaluftee Visitor Center. Get ready to explore the Smokies and discover why this is the most visited National Park in the country!

As you drive, you'll have the option to take a detour to the Mingus Mill, an 1886 grist mill which, believe it or not, is still fully functional! If you're here on weekends, you can even see the mill operators grind corn just like they did back in the 1800s.

Your first major stop is the Beech Flats Quiet Walkway, a perfect spot for anyone who wants to soak up the natural beauty of the mountains without having to hike an arduous trail.

Heading toward Clingman's Dome, you'll soon see its famous observation tower. You really haven't seen the Great Smoky Mountains until you've seen them from up here!

From there, your drive continues to Newfound Gap, a stunning mountain pass with huge historical significance. Hear the story of how trappers, farmers, and merchants used to cross the Smokies, and how this gap changed all of that.

Up next is the Rockefeller Memorial, where you'll learn more about Rockefeller's importance to the park! This memorial was dedicated by President Theodore Roosevelt himself.

After that, you'll reach Morton Overlook, hugely popular for its unbelievable sunsets.

Continuing on, you'll pass through the heart of a mountain using the Morton Tunnel. Here, you'll also hear about how a politician named Ben Morton got his name all over the park.

Next you'll pass the Alum Cave Trail, which takes hikers to the remains of an old salt mine packed with fascinating history.

Your route takes you next to Chimney Tops Overlook, where you'll hear all about wildfires in the Smokies and how they cause lasting damage to mountains like this one.

The next overlook on your route is Carlos Campbell Overlook, which serves up panoramic views of towering mountains and lush forests.

Next up is the most accessible trail in the park: Sugarlands Valley Trail! This scenic trail can be accessed by wheelchair or stroller, and offers a great way to venture into the wilderness.

The tour leads next to the Sugarlands Visitor Center, a perfect rest stop and the site of a few trailheads.

Next up is the most accessible trail in the park! Sugarlands Valley Trail can be accessed by wheelchair or stroller, and offers a great way to venture into the scenic wilderness. We'll also turn back the clock to get an in-depth look at the complicated history of this valley and the settlers who once lived here.

Your drive continues to Cataract Falls, a beautiful, secluded set of waterfalls tucked beneath a shaded canopy of beech trees.

Finally, you'll arrive in the picturesque mountian town of Gatlinburg, where your tour will conclude.

Our next stop is perfect for anyone amused by kitschy oddities. This funky museum displays everything from shrunken human heads to rare animal skeletons. We'll get the inside scoop on how it started as a simple one-panel comic strip and grew into a national phenomenon.

Continue following the road to the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail. This driving trail invites you to slow down and enjoy the forest and historic buildings of the area. It also features three of the park's most famous waterfalls!

Our route takes us next to the Rainbow Falls Trail, which leads to the park's most popular waterfall. Standing at 80 feet, Rainbow Falls is the tallest waterfall in the Smokies, but that's not all! When the sun hits it right, it glimmers like a rainbow--hence the name.

Keep driving until you reach the Grotto Falls trail. While it's not quite as grand as Rainbow Falls, this secluded, less crowded waterfall is absolutely worth a visit. On your way, hear about a rare salamander you can only find right here!

Why settle for one waterfall when you can have several? Our next stop is the Place of a Thousand Drips, where numerous narrow falls come together to form a stunning torrent.

Our drive takes us next to the Baskin Creek Falls, a sparkling waterfall where we'll hear about the amusing, and slightly misguided history behind the name of these falls.

Up next, we'll pass the Ephraim Bales Cabin, a portal back in time to the 19th century. We'll hear all about the family that lived here, and why there's a big hole in the middle of their cabin!

The road brings us next to the Reagen Cabin, which displays a perfect example of old-timey technology in the form of the so-called "tub mill." Hear all about what that is and why it was useful here.

Next, our drive takes us to Ely's Mill, a historic mill on the outskirts of Gatlinburg which gives us another window into the lives of the early Appalachian settlers. Here, we'll learn about Andrew Ely, the bigshot lawyer who upended his entire life after his wife died, abandoned his law practice, and moved to Gatlinburg to start over and live a simpler life.

Finally, we'll arrive in the mountian town of Gatlinburg, we'll hear how it all began with the unfortunate, ill-fated William Ogle, who built the town's very first cabin but never got to live there. Then we'll hear about how the town grew, the struggle that consumed it during the Civil War, and how it became what it is today. This is where our tour officially concludes. There are many stories that you'll hear along the way, including • Ancestral Cherokee Land • Tsali and the Trail of Tears • Revolt Against the Ani'kutani • Sequoyah's New Storytelling System • The Milky Way • Selu's Sacrifice • Great Smoky Geology • Webb View • Appalachia's Settlers • Appalachian Trail • Ghost Firs of Clingman's Dome • Funding the Smokies • Appalachian Balds • Balsam Point Quiet Walkway and more. Explore the captivating Cades Cove and the stunning Great Smoky Mountains by purchasing our special bundle that includes both destinations.

Meeting Point

Oconaluftee Visitor Center Parking C

1151 Parkway

1151 Parkway, Gatlinburg, TN 37738, USA

This activity ends back at the meeting point.

Ticket Information

  • Mobile or paper ticket accepted
  • One per booking

What's Included

  • Easy to use: Stories play automatically by GPS. Hands-free. Get HELP all day: Call, Chat, or Email.
  • Don’t miss a thing: Full itinerary, travel tips, professionally narrated, videos, text, hidden gems.
  • Offline use: No cell signal or wifi required. Offline GPS Map & route. Stop-to-stop direction.
  • Private tour in your/rental car: No group. Take breaks for photos/ snacks/hikes. Go at your own pace
  • App on your phone: A link to download the Tour Guide App by Action and Password for your tours.
  • Flexible schedule: Use any day, any time. Travel over multiple days or on next trip. Never expires.
  • Good value: Buy just one per car. Don’t pay for each person. Save money compared to a bus tour.

What's not Included

  • Transportation, parking fee, food/drinks
  • National Park/attraction Passes, entry tickets, or reservation

Cancellation Policy

  • For a full refund, cancel at least 24 hours before the scheduled departure time.

Additional Info

  • Public transportation options are available nearby
  • Suitable for all physical fitness levels
  • How it works: Once you book a tour, you’ll get a text/email with instructions. Download the app (while in good wifi/signal) and use your unique password to access your tours. To begin touring, go to the Starting Point and launch the app. The audio starts automatically. Stick to the tour route & speed limit for the best experience. Please note that no one will meet you at the starting point.
  • Good value Purchase only one tour for the entire vehicle instead of taking the bus and paying for each person. You will see a significant saving. Connect your phone to car speakers by a wire or bluetooth. Enjoy the tour by listening together as you drive.
  • Flexible Schedule: Once the app/tour is on your phone, you can use it any day and at any time. You can use it over multiple days. And, also use it on your next trip here. This tour never expires.
  • Preview the tour: You can use it before the trip at home (highly recommended), use it during the trip, and use it after you come back.
  • Don't miss a thing: You will get everything with the app - a complete itinerary, travel tips, professionally narrated audio stories, story script, images, videos, deep dives, hidden gems, exciting locations, recommendations for hikes, adventure, activities, treks, and stop-by-stop direction.
  • Private tour: You can use it in your car or rental car. No worries about groups or crowds. Start the tour app on your phone. And it will direct you step by step. You can stop for as many breaks as you like. Take a break for Instagram photos, and take a break for lunch/snacks. Go on a hike. The tour will wait for you and start when you start again. You can even do the tour over multiple days. Go at your own pace.
  • Easy to use: The stories play themselves as soon as the GPS is activated. It requires no use of your hands at all. You can get HELP by calling, chatting, or emailing any time of the day.
  • Offline: There is no need for a cell signal or Wi-Fi while touring. App’s GPS map works offline.
  • Expiration/go again: The tour will last for the rest of your life on your phone. It is available for use on any day of your next trip.
  • Use pictures for a photo book: Create a photo book using clean (no crowd) app images of each spot to make a memorable trip. All the photos and the correct sequence is ready in the app for you to use.
  • Social media: Share clean (no crowd) images with friends/family.
  • Devices supported include iPhones with iOS 13 & above, Android phones with version 9 & above and all cellular-enabled tablets & iPads.

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Blue Ridge Mountains Travel Guide

The 8 Best Train Rides in the Smoky Mountains of NC & TN

Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links. All hosted affiliate links follow our editorial & privacy policies .

The Smoky Mountains are renowned for their spectacular natural beauty. And in our experience, there’s no better way to see them than by taking a Great Smoky Mountains train ride.

Train rides have a rich history in the Southeastern US, and carry a rich sense of  nostalgia that bridges generations. 

Sadly, many old passenger trains have gone the way of the dodo, leaving only a few Smoky Mountain trains to carry the 12+ million Great Smoky Mountains National Park visitors each year.

Pigeon Forge’s Dollywood theme park is home to the lone Smoky Mountain railway in Tennessee .

The Bryson City train company, the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad, is the place to go for NC train rides in the Smokies.

Read for our guide to the best train rides in the Smoky Mountains, including Christmas train rides , routes focused on wine  or moonshine, and rides offering spectacular views of the Nantahala Gorge and Tuckasegee River.

READ MORE: The 10 Best Smoky Mountains Hotels to Visit in NC & TN

Top Places to Stay for  Train Rides in the Smoky Mountains Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort and Spa   (Top 10 Hotel w/free trolley to Dollywood Parks) Stonebrook Lodge Bryson City   (great location w/24-hour coffee machine) Relax Inn – Bryson City   (affordable hotel within walking distance to train) McKinley Edwards Inn   (upscale boutique hotel w/continental breakfast) Calhoun House Inn & Suites   (4-Brm & 5-Brm vacation suites w/full kitchen) Popular tours and activities in the Smoky Mountains : Pigeon Forge: Rocky Top Mountain Coaster Ride (travels up to 30 miles per hour!) Waterfalls & Breweries Tour from Bryson City NC    (includes 4 waterfalls & 5 breweries) Bryson City: Mountaintop Zip Line Experience (premiere ziplining tour)  Bryson City: Fontana Lake Guided Kayak Tour (single or tandem kayak tour w/guide) Great Smoky Mountains National Park Self-Guided Driving Tour (download app)

Great Smoky Mountains Train Rides Guide

  • Nantahala Gorge Excursion
  • Tuckasegee River Excursion
  • The Polar Express Christmas Train
  • Carolina Shine Moonshine Experience
  • Uncorked Wine Experience
  • Smoky Mountain Beer Run
  • Bunny Hopper Express
  • Dollywood Express Train Ride

READ MORE: The 10 Best Things to Do in the Great Smoky Mountains in Winter

Great Smoky Mountains Railroad History

smoky mountain railway conductors

All Bryson City NC train rides begin and end at the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad’s Bryson City train depot.

GSMR is part of American Heritage Railways’ goal to preserve railroad history for future generations.

The Great Smoky Mountains Railroad involves 53 miles of track, with 25 bridges and 2 tunnels. They traverse rivers, cross mountain valleys filled with wildflowers in Spring and Summer, and pass old   mountain towns .

Historically, the rails reached the town of Asheville in 1880, and by 1881 they continued another 116 miles to Murphy NC. They connected the far reaches of Western NC to the world much faster than long, tough wagon rides.

These lines were busiest during WWII, when the Fontana Dam was built. After the Great War ended, the popularity of passenger train traffic dropped off to virtually nothing. By 1985, freight train traffic was also in steady decline.

GSMR trains began to run as a tourist-focused enterprise back in 1988, and today the company carries over 200,000 passengers a year on the top train rides in North Carolina!

READ MORE: The 20 Best Things to Do in Bryson City NC & Swain County

Great Smoky Mountains Railroad Train Rides

45 Mitchell St, Bryson City NC • (800) 872-4681

Official Website

Riding the Great Smoky Mountain Railroad Nantahala Gorge Excursion in Bryson City NC

1. Nantahala Gorge Excursion

GSMR’s longest trip is their ever-popular Nantahala Gorge Excursion, which covers 44 miles and takes about 4.5 hours.

This NC mountain train ride runs through the Nantahala National Forest, along the Nantahala and Tennessee Rivers , and crosses a trestle over Fontana Lake.

It departs from the Bryson City Depot, has a one-hour layover at the Nantahala Outdoor Center (famous for its whitewater rafting tours ), and returns to Bryson City.

There are several classes of service available. First class has assigned seating, dining, and limited bar service. There are also open-air gondola cars and several other classes of closed cars.

Nantahala Gorge Excursion prices range from $58-$94 for adults and $33-$64 for kids ages 2-12, depending on the class and time of year you visit. 

READ MORE: The 20 Best Lakes in North Carolina (Mountains, Coast & Beyond)

Train Tressel Crossing - Tuckasegee River Excursion GSMR

2. Tuckasegee River Excursion

Another hugely popular train ride in Bryson City is GSMR’s Tuckasegee River Excursion, which is a 32-mile round-trip adventure to Dillsboro NC.

This trip includes an 80-minute layover in the historic town of Dillsboro, which is known for its charming craft shops, unique restaurants , and a laid-back but welcoming personality.

Classes of service available on this trip include First Class (only in November and December), Crown Class, Coach Class, and Open Air Gondola.

Tuckasegee River Excursion prices range from $58-$124 for adults and $33-$64 for kids ages 2-12, depending on the class and time of year you visit. 

READ MORE: The 15 Best Things to Do in Sylva NC & Dillsboro NC

Santa on the Polar Express Train in Bryson City NC

3. The Polar Express

Every year during Winter , the Bryson City railroad transforms from a historic mountain railway into The Polar Express train, a uniquely immersive Christmas experience!

This festive 75-minute adventure includes live performers, music from the film, “Hot Chocolate” (both the song and the drink), and a cookie. Once you reach “The North Pole,” Santa climbs aboard to visit with all the kids. 

Dressing in pajamas is encouraged, and all riders receive a silver sleigh bell as a special souvenir. You can also enjoy singing Christmas carols for the return trip to Bryson City.

The Polar Express runs multiple times daily from early November through December, but they sell out well in advance. Tickets run from $44-$62.25 for adults and from $29-$62.25 for kids ages 2 to 12.

READ MORE: 10 Reasons to Ride the Bryson City Polar Express Train

Bryson City train -Carolina Shine Moonshine Experience

4. Carolina Shine Moonshine Experience

The Carolina Shine Moonshine Experience is an all-adult car offered on select Nantahala Gorge Excursion train rides . In our experience, it may be the most fun of the various dinner train rides in the Smokies!

All guests get a chance to sample craft moonshine from local distilleries on the First Class train car. After the tastings , moonshine-infused cocktails such as Copper Cola and Moonshiner’s Mimosa will be available for purchase.

Early rides come with a choice of Cheesy Shrimp & Grits or Cheesy Ham Hash Brown Casserole. Excursions departing after 2PM will feature Cajun-seasoned Pulled Pork BBQ with Sweet Baby Ray’s sauce.

Carolina Shine Moonshine Experience tickets range from $119-$134, and are available only for adults ages 21 and up. 

READ MORE: 10 Great Train Rides in North Carolina

Bryson City NC train rides - Uncorked Wine Experience

5. Uncorked Wine Experience

Also offered on select GSMR Nantahala Gorge Excursions (though much more sparsely), Uncorked is a unique wine experience that offers a more refined take on scenic train rides in North Carolina.

Guests on this trip get 4 samples of specially chosen wines , plus a 4-course dinner that includes a cheese plate starter, a salad, entree (Surf ‘n’ Turf or Vegetarian), and a dessert.

Noted that special dietary needs can be accommodated with advance notice, and every passenger will receive a souvenir GSMR stemless wine glass.

Tickets for the Uncorked train ride start at $169 per person, and only adults ages 21+ are allowed. 

READ MORE: The 20 Best NC Wineries to Visit

Smoky Mountain train ride - Smoky Mountain Beer Run

6. Smoky Mountain Beer Run

Craft beer is huge in the State of North Carolina , and the town of Asheville NC has even been dubbed “Beer City USA!”

GSMR offers a special Smoky Mountain Beer Run on their Tuckasegee River Excursion, serving 2 half-pint pours en route to a layover (and more beer samples) at the Innovation Station brewery in Dillsboro NC.

All beer runs are themed to stir up a party atmosphere, and the food menu for the ride is matched to the theme.

Smoky Mountain Beer Run tickets cost $114 and are available for adults ages 21 and up. 

READ MORE: Exploring The 17 Best Asheville NC Breweries

N.C. train rides - Bunny Hope Express GSMR Bryson City NC

7. Bunny Hopper Express

There are a few different Christmas -themed train rides in North Carolina, but the Bunny Hopper Express is a rare Easter-oriented excursion.

This family-friendly special event only runs for a couple of days over one Spring weekend (March 29-30, 2024).

It includes train-hopping bunnies sneaking aboard for a free ride, an Easter egg hunt, and a giveaway bag, with lots of fun things to do during the ride.

Bunny Hopper Express tickets run from $59-$87 for adults, and from $35-$61 for kids ages 2 to 12. Infants under age 2 ride for free, except on the First Class car, which costs $19. 

READ MORE: The 15 Best Christmas Towns in North Carolina

Train Rides in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee

Dollywood train Christmas TN

8. Dollywood Express Train Ride

2700 Dollywood Parks Blvd, Pigeon Forge TN • (800) Dollywood

Though it’s sometimes listed as a Gatlinburg train ride, the Dollywood Express is actually about 20 minutes north in Pigeon Forge TN.

It’s the only Great Smoky Mountains train ride in Tennessee, powered by a 110-ton, coal-fired steam engine that takes visitors on a 5-mile journey through the area’s stunning natural scenery.

This is the original attraction in Dolly Parton’s Dollywood theme park, departing from the depot once every hour on a first-come, first-served basis. 

The Dollywood Express train engines date back to WWII. All cars have been designed with old-fashioned brass fittings and wooden seats to reflect the time when passenger trains were immensely popular in the Tennessee mountains .  –by Jonathon Engels; lead image by Bret Love & Mary Gabbett

The Best Train Rides in the Smoky Mountains including the Dollywood train in TN and the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad in Bryson City NC. | bryson city train | bryson city nc train rides | great smoky mountain railway | n.c. train rides | train rides in the smoky mountains | smoky mountain train ride | smoky mountain trains | railroad in bryson city | dinner train rides in the Smokies | smoky mountain train | bryson city railroad | nc train rides | north carolina train rides |

We encourage anyone who loves the Blue Ridge region to learn about the  Leave No Trace   principles of responsible environmental stewardship. 

Stay on marked trails, take only pictures, pack out your trash, and be considerate of others who share the trails and parks you explore. 

Remember that waterfalls and rocky summits can be dangerous. Never try to climb waterfalls or get close to a ledge to get a selfie.

When you're exploring the wilderness, it's better to be safe than to be a statistic!

Jonathon Engels

After visiting North Carolina for the first time, Senior Writer Jonathon Engels and wife Emma spent 2 years exploring Western NC in search of a homestead property. They first lived in Brevard, where Jonathon taught writing at Blue Ridge Community College and extensively explored the Blue Ridge Parkway and Pisgah National Forest. For the last several years they have lived just off the BRP near Elkin, Southwest Virginia, and the NC High Country. The couple also volunteers with the Surry Old Time Fiddlers Convention, the Elkin Valley Trail Association, and Reeves Downtown School of Music.

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    Foxfire Mountain offers a variety of guided and self-guided Smoky Mountain tours. The Waterfall Canopy Zipline Tour features two sky bridges, seven zip lines, and aerial views of the creek and lost mine waterfall.

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  14. 6 Awesome Auto Touring Routes in the Great Smoky Mountains National

    The Great Smoky Mountains National Park has six amazing auto touring routes for an easy tour through the nature of the Appalachian Mountains. By Jason Barnette June 25, 2018 This post may contain affiliate links. Read my Affiliate Disclosure here.

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  24. The 8 Best Train Rides in the Smoky Mountains of NC & TN

    Popular tours and activities in the Smoky Mountains:. Pigeon Forge: Rocky Top Mountain Coaster Ride (travels up to 30 miles per hour!). Waterfalls & Breweries Tour from Bryson City NC (includes 4 waterfalls & 5 breweries). Bryson City: Mountaintop Zip Line Experience (premiere ziplining tour) . Bryson City: Fontana Lake Guided Kayak Tour (single or tandem kayak tour w/guide)