Guided Excursions in the National Park
Once you’re settled into your Gatlinburg cabin or motel room at Carr’s Northside, that home-away-from-home you choose for your Smoky Mountain getaway, it will be time to turn to the local experts for ways to maximize fun in these hills! Thousands of people take guided tours through the National Park every year because it’s the best way to experience the joys of this one-of-a-kind place.
Cades Cove Heritage Tours
A visitor making a very casual drive through Cades Cove in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park will understand immediately that the place is teeming with reminders of its rich cultural history. From old-fashioned churches and decades-old graveyards to log cabin home sites, the Cove is a trip back in time. If you’d like to get the full flavor of the extensive and very interesting history of the area, which served as a hunting ground for the Cherokee and was settled in the early 1800s, as well as information about the abundant wildlife and other natural wonders in Cades Cove, it might be a good idea to sign on for a tour guided by Cades Cove Heritage Tours. Tours depart from the Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center, located on Cromwell Drive, just off of East Lamar Alexander Parkway (the main thoroughfare in Townsend, Tennessee, a popular entrance to the GSMNP). You can buy tickets there or online at cadescoveheritagetours.org for $15 just the Cades Cove Tour or $18 for the Cades Cove Tour + Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Museum. There is no charge for children ages five and under. Call (865) 448-8838 for more information. Find out what all of the fuss is about surrounding the beautiful mountain valley known as Cades Cove TN. Be sure to bring your camera and a good set of binoculars if you can, though wildlife is often spotted very close to the eleven-mile scenic loop road. Bears, deer and wild turkey are abundant.
Rocky Top Tours
If you’d like to see some of the best views in the park, get some great photos and make new friends all while learning the history and ecology of the area, take the approximately four-hour tour by Rocky Top Tours known as the “Smoky Mountain Special Tour.” Ditch the anxiety of driving unfamiliar mountain roads and let Rocky Top do the heavy lifting while you relax and soak in the sights. This tour features the Sugarlands Visitor Center — where you can browse an interesting gift shop, walk a short hike to see abundant wildflowers in certain seasons, or watch a short film about the GSMNP — plenty of stops at mountain overlooks featuring sweeping vistas, and stops at Newfound Gap and Clingman’s Dome. Newfound Gap is where the park was dedicated by President Roosevelt and Clingman’s Dome is the highest point in the park! On this tour, you’ll feel like you’ve fully experienced this beautiful place! Tickets are $30/adults, $13/children ages 7-15. Children 6 and under are free. Visit rockytoptours.com or call (865) 429-8687 or toll free at 877-315-8687 to learn more about this and other wonderful, comprehensive and educational tours they have to offer.
Smoky Mountain Guides
Moonshine is synonymous with mountain life, it seems, at least in the lore surrounding these hills. Make your trip to the Smokies complete with your own set of tales to take home after a three-hour “Mountains and Moonshine” guided tour by Smoky Mountain Guides ($45/person). Leave the driving to them and learn all you can about the moonshine culture of the Smokies back in the days of prohibition while enjoying the beauty and serenity of the mountains that cloaked the stills so many decades ago. The tour is capped by a stop at Sugarlands Distilling Company, where you’ll get a taste of the firewater that sparked many a chase through the hills of Tennessee and points beyond! Go to smokymountainguides.com where you may book online or call (865) 654-4545 for more information about this unique opportunity and other comprehensive guided tours by Smoky Mountain Guides.