|One of Great Smoky Mountain National Park's many streams.|
America’s most visited national park, more than 10 million people annually enter the vast, sprawling mountain terrain that crosses the states of Tennessee and North Carolina. The high visitation occurs in part because a sizable number of Americans live within a day’s drive from the park. Great Smoky Mountains’s natural beauty and rich, preserved history, however, ensure it’s a sparkling gem that’s worth the road trip.
Several access points exist for Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Most begin the last leg of their journey to the national park from either Knoxville, Tenn., or Asheville, N.C. For either city, Interstate 40 leads to the park.
From Knoxville, take I-40 east/south. Exit south on Tenn. Hwy. 66, which merges with U.S. Hwy. 441. This runs through Gatlinburg and to the park’s northcentral entrance. Hwy. 441 cuts through the park over Newfound Gap.
From Asheville, go west/north on the interstate. Exit west/south on U.S. Hwy 74 then go west/north on U.S. Hwy 19. In Cherokee, the road junctions with U.S. Hwy. 441, which can be taken north into the park and to Newfound Gap. To reach Bryson City, N.C., and its southcentral entry into the park, continue west on Hwy. 19.
Staying on I-40 from either city takes you to the park’s eastern side. Several popular entrances to the park can be found along the way.
To reach the park’s west side entrances, from Knoxville take U.S. Hwy 129 south. Exiting on N.C. Hwy. 28 heads to Fontana Dam.
Top sights – and the trails to see them at the park – include:
• Deep/Indian Creeks
• Laurel Falls
• Clingmans Dome
• Mingus Mill
• Elk herd
Learn about other great trails at this national park in Best Sights to See at Great Smoky Mountains National Park.