Tennessee K-5th Grade Ranger-Led Field Trips

The following field trips are offered in the park in the spring and in the fall for elementary students. These free cirriculum-based programs provide hands-on learning experiences using the park's cultural and natural resources as teaching tools.

  • To request an Education Program in TN, email us or call 865-436-1258

Ranger and students in front of talking chimney
Ranger Jessie introducing students to the "Talking Chimney", fall 2019

Kindergarten: Explore with Your Senses

Students use their senses to learn about this special protected national park. Students learn about the history and wildlife of Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Location Options: 1/4 mile from Sugarlands Visitor Center, Cades Cove near the campground
Tennessee State Standards: K.LS1.3
Program Time: 9:30AM - 11:30AM (Program ends before lunch)
Special Notes: The bus will meet the ranger at Sugarlands Visitor Center to use bathrooms. The bus will then reload and follow the ranger to the Sugarlands Valley Nature Trail, an easy 1/2 mile hike.

Student hugging a tree while classmates watch
Students exploring the texture of tree bark, fall 2021

First Grade: The TREE-mendous Smokies

Students discover the amazing trees of the Smokies through hands-on activities while identifying parts of a plant and plant life-cycles.
Locations: Twin Creeks Science Center, Cades Cove near campground.
Tennessee State Standards: 1.LS1.1, 1.LS1.2
Program Time: 9:30AM - 1:30PM (Program includes time for lunch)

Students looking at animal pelts in forest
Students looking at Ranger Alex holding animal pelts, fall 2021

Second Grade: Animal Groups

Students explore animal group characteristics during a hike in the forest, animal relay, and the "pelt game".
Location Options: Cades Cove near the campground, Sugarlands Visitor Center
Tennessee State Standards: 2.LS1.1, 2.LS1.2, 2.LS2.2
Program Time: 9:30AM - 1:30PM (Program includes time for lunch)
Special Notes: Easy hike less than 1-mile total. Students eat lunch on the grass, teachers are welcome to have them bring blankets to sit on.

Ranger showing students an animal skull
Ranger Nicole working with students to identify a skull during "bone detective", fall 2021

Third Grade: Plant and Animal Adaptations

Students take a hike to explore plant adaptations, and learn about animal animal adaptations by becoming "skull detectives".
Locations: Metcalf Bottoms Picnic Area
Tennessee State Standards: 3.LS1.1, 3.LS4.1, 3.LS4.2
Program Time: 9:30AM - 1:30PM (Program includes time for lunch)
Special Notes: The bus must enter the park through Cades Cove or Gatlinburg for this program. They cannot enter through Wears Valley. This includes a 1-mile moderate hike.

Students looking at plants on hike, 2021
Students looking at plants on hike, 2021

Fourth Grade: Mountain Food Webs

Students investigate the relationships between species and the role they all play in a complex forest food web during a mountain hike.
Location: Cades Cove near the campground
Tennessee State Standards: 4.LS2.2, 4.LS2.3, 4.ESS3.2
Program Time: 9:30AM - 1:30PM (Program includes time for lunch)
Special Notes: Students lunches should be packed individually in backpacks for students to carry, they will be eatting half-way through the 1.5 mile, moderate hike.

Student and Ranger looking at a piece of pottery made by the student.
Student working with Ranger Beth to learn about Cherokee pottery and create their own piece, fall 2021.

Fifth Grade: Cherokee Culture

Students learn about the indigenous people of the Smokies and their customs and culture during a hike. Students learn about technological development while throwing atlatls and creating their own pottery.
Location: Cosby Ampitheater near picnic area
Tennessee State Standards: SSP.05.02
Program Time:
9:30AM - 1:30PM (Program includes time for lunch)
Special Notes: This program includes a moderate 1-mile hike.

To request a program, please contact the TN Education Office by email or phone (865-436-1258).

Last updated: January 30, 2024

Park footer

Contact Info

Mailing Address:

107 Park Headquarters Road
Gatlinburg, TN 37738



Contact Us