We understand that vacations can cost a dollar or two, especially if you’re planning on treating the whole family to several days’ worth of food and fun. This week, however, we’ve got some great suggestions for ways everyone can have a good time in the Great Smoky Mountains, and it won’t cost mom and dad a dime.
Which brings us to one of the main advantages of visiting Great Smoky Mountains National Park during the summer. It should go without saying that the Smokies are the main attraction around here, but in addition, the park service offers dozens of unique, interesting and fun programs for visitors of all ages. The best part is that the vast majority of them are absolutely free. These programs are led by park rangers, so participants get special insight into everything that makes the national park special.
Here’s just a sampling of what you’ll find taking place within the next week on the Tennessee side of the Smokies, which means they’re all easily accessible from our cabins in Gatlinburg, TN as well as Pigeon Forge and Wears Valley.
A Walk in the Woods
6/22 – 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Sugarlands Visitor Center
This is an easy stroll along a scenic wooded trail that starts at the visitor center.
Evening Program: Most Dangerous
6/22 – 7:30 to 8:30 p.m.
Cades Cove amphitheater
Learn about the most dangerous animals in the park and how you should behave when you meet them in this entertaining and humorous program.
Cades Cove Night Hike
6/23 – 9 to 10:30 p.m.
Orientation shelter at entrance to Cades Cove loop road
A park ranger will lead you on an evening walk to discover the night creatures of Cades Cove. Children under 14 must be accompanied by an adult. Bring a flashlight.
6/23 – 1:30 to 3 p.m.
Noah Bud Ogle cabin, Cades Cove
Learn about the families who once called Cades Cove home. Demonstrations and activities will vary throughout the season.
Islands in the Sky
6/24 – 1 to 2 p.m.
Forney Ridge trailhead
Learn about what makes the high-elevation forest of the Smokies one of the most interesting and endangered ecosystems in the Eastern U.S.
Junior Ranger: Explore Cades Cove
6/24 – 1 to 1:45 p.m.
Cades Cove Visitor Center
Join a park ranger for a hands-on exploration of the Smokies.
6/25 – 8 to 9 p.m.
Join a ranger for a traditional evening campfire. Topics vary from night to night, but you’re guaranteed to learn something new about the Great Smoky Mountains.