The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is considered to be a major tourist attraction of the regions, with the number of visits exceeding greatly those of other national parks. Tourism has long ago become a significant portion of income of the surrounding towns, including Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg, Townsend, Sevierville, Cherokee and Maggie Valley. The park has two major visitors' centers: the Oconluftee Visitors Center, located not far from Cherokee, North Carolina, and the Sugarlands Visitors Center, which lies near the Gatlinburg entrance. Both of them feature exhibits on wildlife, history and geology of the park. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is famous for its historical sites, with Cades Cove being the largest of these, boasting its barns, churches, log cabins and other historic buildings. Apart from the Appalachian Trail, the park has a great variety of trails and unpaved roads, used for hiking. The scenic views of Mount Le Conte, recognized as the third highest mountain of the park, are available from the Alum Cave Bluffs trail, while an eighty-foot waterfall can be observed from the Laurel Falls trail.
There are a great number of things to do and sites to observe while enjoying the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Plentiful activities include camping, birding, photography, hiking, wildlife watching, trail rides, star gazing and much more. Auto tours of the park offer panoramic views of historic buildings, mountain streams and extensive forest, stretching to the line of horizon.
The best way to start your day in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is to head to Cades Cove to admire the wildlife, proceeding then to Abraham Falls, Newfound Gap, and one of the park's most prominent destinations - Clingmans Dome. A 6,780-acre valley, located near Townsend, Cades Cove provides deep insight into cultural and natural history of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, as well as its recreational facilities. With more than 2 million visitors each year, coming to enjoy a wide diversity of animals and plants, the valley is considered to be the most popular destination of the park.
Clingmans Dome is regarded as the highest point of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the second highest point after North Carolina's Mt. Mitchell east of the Mississippi. On a clear day it is possible to see seven states, expanding over 100 miles. However, because of the air pollution viewing distances are limited to 22 miles. Clingmans Dome is characterized by rapidly changing weather conditions with snowfalls anytime during the period of September through May. Thus, the road leading to it may be closed when the weather is not suitable for excursions. Hiking is one of the greatest experiences here. There are a number of trails, starting on Clingmans Dome Road and park's area. Situated near Fontana Village, the Fontana Dam is seen as the tallest of its type east of the Rocky Mountains. The 240-mile shoreline offers splendid views of the spectacular scenery.
The Deep Creek area offers an array of opportunities as well, ranging from hiking, fishing, and camping to picnicking and horse riding. There are three waterfalls, including Tom's Branch Falls, Indian Creek Falls and Juneywhank Falls.