• Approximately 1,500 black bears live in the national park.

    Great Smoky Mountains

    National Park NC,TN

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  • Trail Advisory

    Several trails in the park are temporarily closed. Please check the "Backcountry Facilities" section of the Temporary Road and Facilities Closures page for further details. More »

Avoiding the Crowds

A white-tailed deer feed beside the road in Cades Cove.
Even in heavily-visited areas such as Cades Cove, you can sometimes beat the crowds by touring in the early morning on a weekday or during the "off season."
 
Great Smoky Mountains National Park is America’s most visited national park. The park receives approximately nine million visits per year. However, even in the Smokies it is possible to find solitude. Here are some practical tips for avoiding the crowds.

Visit during the "off season." There are two peak seasons in the Smokies, mid-summer (June 15-August 15) and the entire month of October. Weekends in October are especially crowded, and traffic delays should be expected.

Tour early in the day. Visitors can avoid the crowds by traveling early in the day. Most people tour the park from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

Visit an "off the beaten path" destination in the park. The Cades Cove Loop Road and Newfound Gap Road are the most heavily used areas of the park and are busy year-round. Many lesser-used places are waiting to be explored. These include Abrams Creek, Balsam Mountain, Cosby, Fontana Lake, Greenbrier Cove, Heintooga Ridge Road, and Foothills Parkway east and west.

Did You Know?

The park is named for the misty clouds that hang over the mountains.

The wispy, smoke-like fog that hangs over the Smoky Mountains comes from rain and evaporation from trees. On the high peaks of the Smokies, an average of 85 inches of rain falls each year, qualifying these upper elevation areas as temperate rain forests. More...