I always have difficulty planning trips to the Smokies. Their website can be suuuuper confusing, it's a park, after all! Because of this, I thought I would give you guys some tips and also tell you what we did while we were there!
So we decided to stay in Cade's Cove this year. It was our first time staying in the actual park, and it was really great! To stay on a primitive site like we did is $25 a night. If you're going in the fall, you absolutely HAVE to book 1-2 months in advance. If you're really put together, I would say that you should book about three months in advance, because the spots this time of year fill up super early in the season. We were lucking to be able to go Sunday-Tuesday, because the Friday-Sunday slots were all completely full already!
I really love Cade's Cove, but I think we might stay in Elkmont campsite next time we're there. The park is GIANT, and it would take us literally two hours to get from Cade's Cove to a spot like Clingman's Dome. Elkmont, on the other hand, is a lot more central within the park, so you don't spend as much driving once you reach your campsite. Make sure to fill your car up with gas just before you enter the park. No matter what, there's a LOT of driving, and nowhere to fill up once you're in the park!
My favorite thing to do in the park is hiking. The past couple times we've gone, we've hiked Chimney Tops. It's a short, but intense, two mile hike up, then two mile hike back down. Bring lots of water and, if your bf gets grumpy if he doesn't eat for a couple hours (like mine does), bring a granola bar. Chimney Tops is a gorgeous hike, but people, unfortunately, aren't able to climb to the very top right now due to the damage from wildfires a few years ago. It's still an incredibly beautiful hike, but it was definitely a bummer to realize we wouldn't be able to summit.
If you're in the park, I 100% recommend going to Clingman's Dome. It has the highest elevation inside the park, and just the drive up is absolutely breathtaking. A word of caution though, dogs aren't allowed once you park, so you won't be able to go all the way to the top. Just the views from the parking lot alone, however, are enough to make the drive to this spot.
Even if you don't stay in Cade's Cove, it might be worth the drive to go through it. Cade's Cove is about an hour to an hour-and-a-half driven loop. You can also cycle on it, but I would honestly be nervous to ride my bike on some sections, because the road is really narrow and winding. Cade's Cove is a kind of valley in-between a section of mountains, and it's completely STUNNING. We drove it the first day we were there while listening to a Harry Potter audiobook and it was honestly the best thing ever. We were also able to snap the photos in this post inside Cade's Cove, which was so much fun!
That's pretty much everything we did while we were there! We also spent a fair amount of time at our campground hanging out. Our campground had a convenience store that had a lot of essentials in case you forget something, and a ranger station as well! I hope some of this was able to help if you're planning on making a trip to the Smoky Mountains!
My name's Vikka. I'm a Chattanooga fashion and lifestyle blogger. I post a lot of fashion, recipes, and home tips and tricks!
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