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Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Great Smoky Mountains National Park: Our most recommended tours and activities

Pigeon Forge: Whitewater Rafting Tour in the Smokies

1. Pigeon Forge: Whitewater Rafting Tour in the Smokies

Cruise through the Smoky Mountains on this Pigeon River whitewater rafting adventure. Get up close to nature as you splash your way thorugh exciting rapids that require no previous experience. Get access to a 10-acre island with a nature trail, beanbag toss games, and a playground. Meet your guide at the tour supplier's outpost and get fitted with your helmet and life jacket. Listen as your guide provides your with a safety briefing to ensure you are confident. Head out to the Pigeon River and embark on your whitewater trip. Follow your guide through lively rapids with equally engaging nicknames such as Too Late, Vegamatic, Razor Blade, After Shave, and Lost Guide. After your ride, enjoy the amenities at the rafting outpost which has a nature trail, beanbag toss games, and a playground at the water’s edge.

Pigeon Forge: French Broad River Helicopter Tour

2. Pigeon Forge: French Broad River Helicopter Tour

Two options allow you to choose the perfect flight: The Lake View flight extends past the French Broad River and takes you out to Douglas Lake. Douglas Lake is a 33,000 acre man-made lake with over 450 miles of shoreline. This flight will get you up to 1,500 feet in altitude, allowing you a superb view of the Great Smoky Mountains towards the south. Along the route, you will see areas of farmland and quilt-like patterns of pastures. As you get closer to Douglas Lake you will fly next to Douglas Dam. Lake view is a 6-minute flight covering 12 miles. The most popular option, Extended Lake flight, takes you even further. You will fly directly over Douglas Dam, and then proceed over the lake. In the summer take in astonishing sun-glistening views of the water and the people enjoying their time on the lake. In the winter the water level is lowered, so expect majestic views of exposed islands and coves. As well as the beautiful lake, you will see the Great Smoky Mountains towards the southwest. On this option, you climb to a slightly higher altitude than on the Lake View flight, allowing for better visibility of the National Park. Extended Lake is an 8-minute flight over 16 miles.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park Self Driving Tour

3. Great Smoky Mountains National Park Self Driving Tour

Explore the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and discover why it’s the most visited National Park in the country. Buckle up and prepare for a deep dive into the most famous stretch of the Appalachians. Enjoy a flexible route that allows you to take all the time you need to admire the timeless wonders of the mountains. Start by downloading the Action Tour Guide app that will function as your personal guide, audio tour, and map all in one. Drive through the scenic mountains and hear all about parts of Cherokee history, like the ancient Cherokee monarchy and the revolutionaries who fought against it. Get detailed accounts of Cherokee ancestral legends, from the great buzzard who shaped the Smoky Mountains from clay to the witch whose droplets of blood bloom into stalks of corn. Experience animated videos allowing you to visualize what you cannot see, such as snapshots from different centuries or interior rooms. Be pointed towards some of the most awe-inspiring sights in the park. Gaze at the majestic Rainbow Falls, the breath-taking 360-degree views atop Clingmans Dome, and hear about the deep-rooted history of the Elys Mill. Learn about the complex flora and fauna which call the mountains home. Get to know the creatures of Cades Cove and learn how wildfires form an integral part of the vast and interconnected ecosystem. As you drive, audio stories will automatically pop up and start playing, allowing you to keep your attention on the natural beauty of the Smoky Mountains.

Pigeon Forge: Wears Valley Helicopter Tour

4. Pigeon Forge: Wears Valley Helicopter Tour

Get an amazing overview of Sevier County’s most beautiful areas on this helicopter tour. Upon departure, you will travel over historic downtown Sevierville with the Smoky Mountains National Park in the distance. Continue over the rolling foothills of the Smoky Mountains and the Pigeon Forge Parkway before getting away from civilization over Pine Mountain. As you climb in altitude, you’ll follow the terrain up to the crest of Cove Mountain at the National Park boundary line where you’ll be met with spectacular views of the Wears Valley area. Cruising along Wears Valley, travel north over the east end of Waldens Creek and the foothills of Bluff Mountain before returning over the Tennessee Valley.

Great Smoky Mountains NP & Cades Cove Self-Guided Tour

5. Great Smoky Mountains NP & Cades Cove Self-Guided Tour

Explore the Great Smoky Mountains at your own pace with a self-guided and self-driving tour. Hike to Alum Cave, enjoy a panoramic view from Charles Overlook, and discover Cades Coves from the comfort of your own car. Start by downloading the Action Tour Guide app that will function as your personal guide, audio tour, and map all in one.. Drive to the Oconaluftee Visitor Center to start your journey. After exploring the Visitor Center, head past the Mingus Mill, a remnant of a once-thriving town. As you drive to Beech Flats Quiet Walkway, hear accounts of the Cherokee people who once lived here. Learn about their legends and their struggle to hold onto their land. Once you arrive, enjoy a meditative stroll through nature. Hop back into your car and head to Charles Webb Overlook, which offers a panoramic view of the park. Once you’ve snapped some stunning photos, continue toward Clingman’s Dome, the highest peak in the Smokies, for more unparalleled views of the mountains. Continue to the trail for Alum Cave, one of the most popular hikes in the park. If you wish, take the moderate 4.4-mile roundtrip trail for beautiful panoramas and fascinating rock formations. After your hike, drive to Chimney Tops Overlook, offering more stunning mountain views. Next, enjoy an easy wilderness walk at Balsam Point. As you continue past yet another incredible vista and another secluded walkway, hear little-known park history. Jump back in your car and drive towards Gatlinburg, stopping on the way to check out the pristine Cataract Falls. In Gatlinburg, pass the famous Ripley’s Believe It or Not. Drive past Ogle Place, an old-timey homestead dating back to the 1800s, before arriving at Rainbow Falls. Continue your drive past several more waterfalls and the historic cabins of Ephraim Bales and Reagan Tub, offering a fascinating glimpse into the past. Finally, finish your Great Smoky National Park tour with a visit to the old Ely’s Mill, which is still in operation today. Start the second part of your combination tour, discovering Cades Coves, just west of Gatlinburg. From there, continue west toward the scenic loop. The first landmark on your route is John Oliver Place, once home to some of the first homesteaders to make a living here. After that, pass 3 churches dating back to the 1800s and uncover the devastating impact of the Civil War on this community. Drive to Elijah Oliver Place, a beautifully-preserved homestead offering an authentic look at early pioneer life. If you wish to stretch your legs, hike to Abrams Falls, a secluded, powerful waterfall. Next, drive to Tipton Place. Finally, reach the Carter Shields Cabin, another idyllic homestead from a bygone era. Finish your tour at the start of the loop as you hear about the last family to call the cove home.

Smoky Mountains: Sightseeing Flex Pass

6. Smoky Mountains: Sightseeing Flex Pass

Experience the haunting vision of the Great Smoky Mountains, where colorful fog-rich forests surround majestic Appalachian peaks in Tennessee’s renowned UNESCO World Heritage Site. Discover the thrilling, the dazzling, the absurd, the historic, and the adventurous with the Sightseeing Flex Pass, your all access pass to top attractions and tours throughout Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, and the scenic Smokies. Take advantage of full admission to attractions and save up to 30% of total visitation costs. Let the Smoky Mountain Sightseeing Flex Pass take you into the great outdoors and see the natural splendor up close and personal: select between a 3 Attractions or a 5 Attractions Pass and choose what you want to enjoy when you arrive. Coast down whitewater in the Smoky Mountain Rafting. Turn a hike into the extreme with sights from the Rocky Top Mountain Coaster Ride. Have your breath taken away from the top of Gatlinburg Space Needle. Partner Tennessee’s exciting outdoor marvels with family-friendly and group-friendly attractions. Play around at the Gatlinburg Pinball Museum or Paula Deen's Lumberjack Feud. Learn the fascinating history of the world’s most famous tragic transatlantic ocean liner at the Titanic Museum Attraction, then catch a dazzling magic show at Wonderworks. Top Attractions Best of Smoky Mountain Special Tour - Rocky Top Tours Escape Game Pigeon Forge Smoky Mountain Rafting - Upper Pigeon River Titanic Attraction Paula Deen's Lumberjack Feud Dolly’s Rags to Riches - Rocky Top Tours Rocky Top Mountain Coaster Gatlinburg Pinball Museum Rainforest Adventure Zoo Smoky Mountain Rafting - Lower Pigeon River Wonderworks - All Access The Best of Three Cities Tour - Rocky Top Tours Wonderworks

Pigeon Forge: Smoky Mountains Rope Obstacle Course Adventure

7. Pigeon Forge: Smoky Mountains Rope Obstacle Course Adventure

Embark on an adventurous high ropes course in the treetops surrounded by the Great Smoky Mountains near Hartford. Each course has a series of fun and challenging activities that wind their way through the treetops — it all gets wobblier, longer, and more challenging as you progress. Don your full-body harness, attach yourself to an overhead belay cable with ropes and carabiners, and work through each of the obstacle courses at your own pace. Leap, grab, and pull through the first levels to build confidence, working your way up to the more difficult courses. Challenge your personal boundaries in the breathtaking scenery at the Outpost’s Family Adventure Island, with a view of the Pigeon River and the Great Smoky Mountains as your backdrop. There’s something here for everyone, from first-timers who enjoy a more laid-back adventure to experienced enthusiasts.

Pigeon Forge: Valleys & Views Smoky Mountains Jeep Tour

8. Pigeon Forge: Valleys & Views Smoky Mountains Jeep Tour

Relax in an open-air Jeep on a 2.5-hour panoramic tour in the Great Smoky Mountains through Wears Valley, along Little River Road and up the Foothills Parkway.  Hop aboard and ride off with your Certified Interpretive Guide (CIG) towards Wears Valley, an idyllic community of quaint farms, historic sites and scenic views. Learn about the area’s rich history and how the Great Smoky Mountains got their name. Overlook stops offer awe-inspiring panoramas for spectacular photos of the mountains often blanketed in the smoke-like mist, for which they are famous. The parkway provides the best views of the highest peaks in the eastern United States. Touted as “one of the prettiest drives in America,” your guide will share how the rugged terrain and other fascinating factors caused this masterpiece to take decades to complete.

From Pigeon Forge: Roaring Fork 2.5-Hour Jeep Tour

9. From Pigeon Forge: Roaring Fork 2.5-Hour Jeep Tour

With your hands on your camera and your guide’s hands on the steering wheel, head toward a road where tour busses can’t go. The heavily forested Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail is a single lane road.  Along the way you’ll learn of the hardwood forest in the Smoky Mountains. A narrow, paved path through chestnut oak, white oak, magnolia, maple and tulip trees take you to the pinnacle, where stops at overlooks give you striking views. Historic structures dot the road’s edges. This was the American Frontier in the 1830s and 1840s.  From Roaring Fork, it’s one last pass through Gatlinburg on the way to a thrilling off-roading ride through a trail on private land. Your professional guide has been expertly trained to give you an experience unlike any other in the Great Smoky Mountains.

From Pigeon Forge: Foothills Parkway 3-Hour Jeep Tour

10. From Pigeon Forge: Foothills Parkway 3-Hour Jeep Tour

This tour includes the breathtaking beauty along the Foothills Parkway. It ends with the thrill of an off-road ride on private land in a custom and iconic Pink Jeep. Stop at overlooks for a spectacular photo tour. With your guide taking care of every amenity, you can focus completely on the scenery ahead. Foothills Parkway is touted by many as “the prettiest drive in America,” the parkway leads to awe-inspiring panoramas.  Approved by Congress in 1944, the final section of Foothills Parkway was completed in late 2018. Along the way your guide will tell of how the rugged terrain caused this masterpiece to take decades to complete. Not only is your guide an expert storyteller, but also an off-roading professional. Your guide will give you yet another memory to share with a 4x4 thrill ride through private, wooded lands that rise above Pigeon Forge.

Other Sightseeing Options in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Want to discover all there is to do in Great Smoky Mountains National Park? Click here for a full list.

What people are saying about Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Overall rating

4.6 / 5

based on 43 reviews

We had so much fun! Before we finished the rafting trip, the kids were asking when we could come back and do it again. We were with Garrett " moustache" and he kept us entertained throughout the trip. I highly recommend this for anyone.

I've never done this before and I have bad knees. I was worried this would have been out of my comfort zone but I was wrong.

Our guide’s name was Emily, and she was very nice, and knowledgeable. We had a great time.

awesome activity and the guides defiantly make the experience more exciting. A must try.

We had a great time our guide was very knowledgeable and fun get Drake he is great