1. Ober Gatlinburg
From downtown Gatlinburg, hop on to the 120 passenger aerial tramway for a ride to this ski area with a 600-foot vertical drop, nine beautiful trails and an amusement park complete with indoor ice skating, wildlife encounter, Alpine Slide, water rides and more.
One of the world’s best theme parks, known for its award-winning shows, rides and special events. Impressive 11 thrilling attractions in newly opened Wildwood Grove. Worldwide entertainers and artists visit each spring during Festival of Nations. BBQ & Bluegrass carries the park toward summer with mouth-watering meals and free celeb concerts. Summer Celebration means extended hours and nightly fireworks. Fall brings glowing pumpkins, the sweet sounds of gospel music and amazing crafts during Harvest Festival. Smoky Mountain Christmas is a must-see with more than five million sparkling lights, and delightful holiday shows.
3. Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies
This aquarium is a popular tourist attraction, featuring a variety of aquatic exhibits including sharks, rays, and tropical fish. Visitors can walk through underwater tunnels and view the marine life up close, as well as attend live shows and interactive experiences. The aquarium is known for its impressive collection of penguins and its unique glass-bottom boat tours.
At 6,643 feet, Clingmans Dome, the highest point in the Park, features an observation tower that offers spectacular 360° views of the Smokies and all 7 states. 7-mile long Clingmans Dome Road offers scenic pullouts with endless views of ridges and valleys along the way. It ends in a large parking area from which a 0.5-mile, paved, steep trail leads to the observation tower on top.
The lowest drivable pass in the Park, Newfound Gap Road (US 441) has an elevation of 5,046 feet. The scenic roadway travels between the Sugarlands Visitor Center near Gatlinburg, TN, up and over the mountains and into Cherokee, NC. The 31-mile stretch of mountain road is the only fully paved road in the park and the only one that travels through the park’s center. About 0.1 mile south of Newfound Gap is the turn-off for Clingman’s Dome.
6. Mount LeConte Lodge
Bag one of the Smokies' most thrilling peaks on this 12.6-mile shuttle hike that takes in ridgetop views before tackling a rocky, high exposure descent. The best spot to watch the sunrise on Mt. Leconte is Myrtle Point, while Cliff Top is perfect for sunset. Both vista points are just short hike from the backcountry shelter or Leconte Lodge.
7. Look Rock
Located on the scenic, 18-mile long Foothills Parkway, Look Rock is a natural observation ledge overlooking the park. An easy 1/2 mile hike leads to the observation tower which provides a spectacular 360-degree panoramic view of the mountains, with spectacular fall foliage during Oct. The National Park Service maintains a picnic area and a campground at Look Rock.
8. Cades Cove
The Cades Cove Loop winds for 11 miles through the Park, a picturesque drive with a backdrop of the mountain peaks and its lush, rolling greens. You can enjoy the largest variety of historic buildings built by Europeans from 1800s. When traveling the scenic loop road, plan to get out and visit the restored buildings that include three churches, log homes, cantilevered barns and a working mill. During your drive, keep an eye out for white tail deer, coyote, elk, fox and black bears.
9. Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail
Roaring Fork features the most popular waterfalls in the Park, the massive 80ft tall Rainbow Falls through a 5.4 round trip hike, and the 25ft high Grotto Falls accessible from the Trillium Gap Trail. It’s breathtakingly beautiful to walk behind Grotto Falls and it's the only spot in the Smokies where you can do this. The Place of a Thousand Drips is another spectacular falls that will bring you serenity.
10. Laurel Falls Trail
Laurel Falls Trail is a 2.4 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Gatlinburg, TN that features a waterfall and is good for all skill levels. The trail is primarily used for hiking, nature trips, and bird watching and is accessible year-round.
11. Abrams Falls Trail
Abrams Falls is located in the popular Cades Cove region. This waterfall is the largest volume waterfall in the Smokies. Although there is a large pool at the base of the falls and lots of rocks to climb around on, this area is notoriously dangerous. It is best enjoyed from the safety of the designated hiking trail. The hike to the falls is just under a 5-mile round-trip.