Did you know that the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the most visited in the United States? Find out what to do in the park and the surrounding area, including Pigeon Forge, on this week’s podcast. We are chatting with Tennessee native Sarah Wilson from The Wandering Rumpus to get her take on visiting the Great Smoky Mountain National Park with kids.
ON THE PODCAST
00:30 – Talking with Kim and Tamara about summer travels
11:20 – Talking with Sarah Wilson
13:12 – Where is the Great Smoky Mountains National Park
15:15 – How long to spend
20:04 – Time of year to go
23:54 – Staying in the park
26:19 – Must dos for families
32:52 – Favorite place to take a family photo
33:55 – Sarah’s favorite travel gear
37:20 – Coming up for Vacation Mavens
ABOUT SARAH WILSON
Sarah is a Nashville-based freelance writer, editor and communications consultant. Sarah writes about kid-friendly Nashville and expanding her family’s worldview through travel, food, books, and engaging in our local and international communities at The Wandering Rumpus. Sarah, her husband Brad and their three girls have traveled extensively – both locally and internationally – and are making big plans to do much more wandering with their little brood – around the world and in their backyard – while sharing tips, encouragement, and laughter around travel and experiences with kids.
TIPS FOR VISITING THE GREAT SMOKY MOUNTAINS NATIONAL PARK
- Great Smoky Mountains National Park is located in East Tennessee but also spans into North Carolina.
- If you are just planning to visit the national park you could spend a long weekend and have a great time. Spending a full week you will be able to explore the park as well as some of the surrounding area.
- Dollywood is a theme park in Pigeon Forge started by Dolly Parton. You can actually learn quite a bit about the areas history when visiting the theme park. It is very well made and a great way to spend a day while you are in Tennessee.
- Summer is always fun but tends to be busier like a lot of places.
- During the fall you could see the changing of the leaves which is always beautiful along with festivals.
- There are two weeks in the spring/early summer when you can see the mating of fireflies in open fields. They actually get so busy that they open a lottery for parking in April.
- You can also see the migration of monarch butterflies that happens in late September early October.
- During the winter time they will close certain areas or trails of the park. But this usually just depends on the weather.
- Most of the National Park is meant for camping in a tent, but there are also places to rent cabins.
- You will want to make sure you are booking spots several months in advance to make sure you get a reservation.
- Laurel Falls Trail is a great hike for families. It is only about 2.6 miles to and from the waterfall. Most of the trail is paved so you could potentially bring a stroller.
- Clingmans Dome Trail is also another great hike for families. It will take you to a lookout point which is the highest point in Tennessee and has really beautiful views.
- If you and your family like to take bike rides, there is an eleven mile loop called Cades Cove Loop that is closed to all cars until 10am on Wednesdays and Saturdays starting in mid-May thru to mid-September.
- If it interests you, there are some great guided tours you can take on horseback along different trails in the Smoky Mountains.
- In the summer months there is an active black bear population, so be sure to practice bear safety if you are planning to go hiking.
BEST PLACE TO TAKE FAMILY PHOTO
Sarah suggest getting a photo in front of a wooden Smoky Mountain sign that you will find at the main entrances. Besides that you can get some great photos at any of the lookouts you visit or even just standing with a trail sign.
FAVORITE TRAVEL GEAR
Sarah recently has been wearing Prana pants that she has loved wearing whether she is at home or traveling.
MENTIONED ON THE PODCAST
FOLLOW US AND SPREAD THE WORD!
If you liked this show, please be sure to subscribe on iTunes, Stitcher, or Google Play and leave us a review! Have a question or comment? Send us an email or leave us a voicemail at +1.641.715.3900, ext. 926035#. You can also follow our travels on Stuffed Suitcase and We3Travel, or follow the Vacation Mavens on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter. Thanks for listening!