7 Reasons to Visit Gatlinburg

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Gatlinburg, Tennessee, situated near the breathtaking Great Smoky Mountains National park, stands as a captivating destination for nature enthusiasts and adventure seekers. In 2022, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park welcomed an astounding 12,937,633 visitors, marking its second busiest year on record. Surpassing the park’s ten-year average by over 1.5 million, this visitation even exceeded the combined footfall of renowned national parks like Yellowstone, Yosemite, and the Grand Canyon. These striking statistics underscore the magnetic appeal of Gatlinburg and the surrounding wilderness. As we explore further, let’s explore some of the most compelling reasons why Gatlinburg should be on your travel radar.

  1. Breathtaking Scenic Beauty

Located within the Great Smoky Mountains, Gatlinburg provides visitors direct access to a range of natural attractions. When you enter the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, you find a setting filled with dense forests, waterfalls, and diverse wildlife. The park’s trail system is suitable for hikers of all skill levels, from experts to beginners. The view of foggy mountains, seasonal wildflowers, and changing leaf colors make hiking here a special experience. If you’re looking to explore scenic outdoor spaces, the mountains around Gatlinburg make this Tennessee town worth visiting.

  1. A Splash of Luxury

One of the primary draws to this location is the availability of cabins with indoor pools in Gatlinburg. These unique accommodations offer a perfect blend of luxury and relaxation. Whether you’re visiting during the hot summer months or the chilly winter season, these private pools provide a year-round oasis for you and your loved ones to enjoy. Imagine taking a dip in a heated pool with the snow falling gently outside or cooling off during a balmy summer afternoon. These cabins offer a level of comfort and entertainment that is hard to match, making them an enticing reason to plan your visit to Gatlinburg.

  1. Diverse Wildlife

If you’re eager to catch sight of the marvelous creatures residing in the Smoky Mountains, Gatlinburg, Tennessee, during the fall season provides an ideal opportunity. In the sweltering heat of summer and the chilling cold of winter, animal sightings are less frequent due to reduced activity. Yet, the splendid autumn weather in the Smoky Mountains offers a wealth of possibilities to observe the indigenous wildlife.

A visit to Cades Cove offers the chance to marvel at black bears and graceful white-tailed deer. Alternatively, a journey to Cataloochee Valley promises a glimpse of the renowned Elk in their native habitat. Amidst the backdrop of the exquisite fall landscape, you can relish the natural beauty while observing these creatures. However, it’s vital to respect safety guidelines when observing wildlife, which include maintaining a minimum distance of 50 yards and ensuring the preservation of their natural surroundings.

  1. Thriving Arts and Crafts Scene

While Gatlinburg is often recognized for its proximity to the Great Smoky Mountains, it’s also a vibrant center for arts and crafts that adds depth to any visit. The town is home to a lively community of artisans, making it a must-visit for anyone interested in unique, handmade goods. A highlight of this arts scene is the Great Smoky Arts and Crafts Community, one of the largest collections of independent artisans in the United States. As you stroll through this area, you’ll encounter a diverse range of crafts. You can find everything from detailed pottery and captivating paintings to skillfully crafted woodwork. This artistic side of Gatlinburg provides not just shopping opportunities, but also a chance to experience local culture and craftsmanship, adding another layer to what already is a multifaceted destination.

  1. Local Cuisine!

Another strong draw for Gatlinburg visitors is the opportunity to dive into the flavors of Southern cuisine. The town has a varied food scene that focuses primarily on Southern staples. Here, you can enjoy traditional favorites like fried chicken, biscuits, and various types of stews in cozy, welcoming restaurants. To further immerse yourself in the local culinary culture, consider attending one of Gatlinburg’s food festivals. 

These events showcase the region’s rich culinary history, offering chances to sample exceptional barbecue, indulge in homemade pies, and taste dishes made from locally-sourced ingredients. Whether you identify as a food enthusiast or just appreciate good, home-cooked meals, Gatlinburg’s culinary landscape is likely to satisfy your taste buds.

  1. You’ll Find Gems – Literally

If you’re looking for a unique activity that’s both fun and educational, Gatlinburg offers the intriguing experience of gem mining. Local establishments provide all the tools you need, but don’t expect to head underground with a pickaxe. The process is much simpler and safer. You purchase a bag of dirt, pour it into a sifting tray, and wash away the soil in a water trough. As the dirt clears, gems in a variety of colors and sizes appear. 

After you’ve uncovered these natural treasures, you have the opportunity to identify them and, in some locations, even turn them into custom jewelry. You can find an array of gemstones like sapphire, ruby, emerald, quartz, and amethyst, to name a few. The region’s rich concentration of these stones makes gem mining in Gatlinburg an activity you won’t easily find elsewhere.

  1. The Smokies

Gatlinburg is known as the “Gateway to the Smokies” because it’s located a short drive away from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. These mountains cover 520,000 acres and offer great hiking and stunning views.

The name “Smokies” comes from the Cherokee, who noticed the mist or “smoke” that often hangs over the rolling mountains. The Smokies have a humid climate, which combines with the vapor from the abundant pine trees in the region.

Many attractions in the park are close to Gatlinburg. After a rainfall, Roaring Fork Stream becomes one of the park’s strongest streams. The trailheads for Rainbow Falls and Grotto Falls, two of the park’s most popular destinations, are just a few miles away from town. Along the trail, hikers can explore a traditional mountain farmstead before reaching the waterfalls.

Start Packing

Gatlinburg, located near the Great Smoky Mountains, has something for everyone. From gem mining and nature hikes to arts and food, this Tennessee town offers a variety of activities. No matter what you enjoy—outdoors, food, art, or adventure—you’ll find it in Gatlinburg. Each day brings a new experience and the chance to make lasting memories. So whether you’re interested in unearthing gems or exploring mountain trails, it’s time to get ready for your trip to Gatlinburg. Your adventure starts now.