Great Smoky Mountains National Park has so many varied hiking opportunities that lots of people, especially out-of-towners, like to spend several days in the park in order to take advantage of several of them at once. If you're planning on making an extended trip to the Smokies, here's what you'll need to know:
Fees: Entrance to the park is free. However, there are fees for activities like camping, horseback rides, hayrides, carriage rides and pavilion rental.
- Camping: There are 10 different campgrounds in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Fees range from $14 per night at most sites to $23 per night for certain campsites at Elkmont. Backcountry camping is free, but permits are required.
- Pavilion Rental: Some picnic pavilions are first-come, first serve. Others should be reserved ahead of time. Pavilion Rental rates range from $10-$75. See http://www.nps.gov/grsm/planyourvisit/picnic.htm for details.
- Other activities: If you'd like to take a horse, hay, or carriage ride, visit http://www.nps.gov/grsm/planyourvisit/horseriding.htm for fees and other information.
Lodging: There are lots of great towns to explore and places to stay near Great Smoky Mountains National Park. However, only Le Conte Lodge on top of Mount Le Conte offers in-park lodging. Visit http://www.leconte-lodge.com/ or call 865.429.5704 for details.
Park Amenities: The Park offers a number of amenities, from bicycle rentals to ranger-guided walks and talks.
- Ranger-Guided Walks & Talks: During your stay at Great Smoky Mountains National Park, enjoy complementary campfire programs, guided hikes and history demonstrations from June-October.
- Bicycle Rental: Bikes are prohibited on all hiking trails; however, you may rent bicycles from the Cades Cove store and ride them on most park roads that are open to vehicle traffic. Call 865.448.9034 for information.
- Campground Amenities: Campground restrooms feature cold running water and flush toilets. Individual campsites each have a fire grate and picnic table. There are no showers or electric and water hookups in the park; however nearby RV parks do offer these amenities.
By now, you're armed with most of the information you'll need to get started hiking in the Smokies. If you'd like to know even more, you can download a comprehensive, free trip-planning guide from the National Park Service's Web site.