With Gatlinburg being so close to Great Smoky Mountain National Park, you can expect to enjoy plenty of wildlife watching experiences. The region is full of unique animals that roam around the many parks. Visitors can easily stumble across a critter or two during a hike around the mountain, or you can visit one of the many areas or join a tour that specifically look out for animals. Take a look at the best spots for wildlife watching right here in Gatlinburg:
Wildlife Viewing at Great Smoky Mountain National Park
If you want to view wildlife on your own your best bet will be over at the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. This massive national park is the biggest attraction right here in Gatlinburg. The area is known for a variety of animals that can often be seen in the park including elk, white-tailed deer, black bear, turkeys, raccoons, woodchucks, and much more. While there are plenty of animals to see actually finding them can be a little difficult. The Great Smoky Mountain National Park is covered with dense forest that makes wildlife watching more difficult than usual. There are open areas within the park that can make it easier. These areas include Cataloochee and Cades Cove that are perfect for a day hike before reaching your destination. Motorists can enjoy a leisurely drive along the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail that often yields sightings of bears and elk.
When to Look for Them
Now that you know where to look, you may want to know the best times to look out for local wildlife. Many of the creatures found inside the Great Smoky Mountain National Park are active at night. This means that your best bet at catching a viewing of an animal or two during park hours is in the morning and evening. Visitors should have binoculars on hand that will allow them to see the animals from a distance. Many of the animals are cautious of humans and will remain in hiding. Visitors are always highly encouraged to never approach or feed an animal. Doing so may lead the animal to no longer fearing human interactions; this can lead to possible situations that can become unpredictable and causing harm to the animal. Make sure to sit back patiently and remain quiet for your best chance to see these incredible animals out in the open. Animals may also be easier to spot in the winter season as the tree foliage has completely fallen. Plan your trip accordingly if wildlife viewing is at the top of your activity list.
Another great wildlife viewing that can be done in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park is bird watching. The park sees over 240 different species of birds that frequent the area, many of which are native to the state of Tennessee. Different areas of the park will also feature different types of birds to look out for. The higher elevations of the treetops will have incredible birds such as the great horned owl, red-breasted nuthatch, and other birds of prey. The month of September often has broad-winged hawks soaring around looking for their next meal. Cades Cove is known for incredible wildlife viewing and you can probably see wild turkeys in the area. These flightless birds travel in packs and can always be heard when nearby.
Guided Tours of the Area
Heading out on your own is always a fun and exciting way to see local wildlife in and around Gatlinburg. However, if you are a novice, it might be difficult finding the areas we have indicated. The best way to get to know the park better is by booking a guided tour. While most tours of the area do not specifically provide wildlife viewing tours these hiking tours can help you traverse the area with a guide. A Walk in the Woods offers award-winning tours of the Smoky Mountains. Their selection of half-day hikes takes you to areas such as Blue Creek Cascades, Eastern Hemlocks, and Clingman’s Dome among others. Expect to be out on your hike for approximately 4 to 5 hours on each trek. Your tour guide will know everything about the area including wildlife that often frequents the trails. Let the trusted professionals help you get to know the area better so you can feel more comfortable wildlife viewing on your own.
Your Time in Gatlinburg
As you can see, there are plenty of ways for you to get out and see the incredible wildlife that live in and around Gatlinburg. The best way for you to enjoy your stay is by booking one of our vacation rental properties here in the area. You will have access to luxury amenities and spacious homes for a memorable time in the area.
There are plenty of reasons why individuals travel from all over the world to reach Gatlinburg. Our vacation destination is home to the Smoky Mountains that provide us with a variety of outdoor activities. There is no more popular outdoor activity to enjoy in the area than hiking. Gatlinburg features miles upon miles of beautiful trails that will take you all over the area. Take a look at some of our favorite Gatlinburg hiking trails:
Some hikes are worth the effort to make it to the top of the trail and back. One of the most beautiful hikes in all of the Smoky Mountains can be found on the trail leading up to Ramsey Cascades. This is the highest waterfall that can be accessed inside Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and the views are worth every step. The total length of the trail is approximately 4 miles, making it an 8-mile round trip. Overall, the trail finds an elevation gain of 2,000 feet, so expect a strenuous hike that is most appropriate for experienced hikers. As mentioned, the trail is well worth the effort and will have you passing by flowing rivers, beautiful hardwood forest, and eventually the Ramsey Cascades themselves. Do not pass up the opportunity to see this beauty for yourself!
Another popular trail inside the Great Smoky Mountains National Park that will take you by beautiful waterfalls is the path to Abrams Falls. This hike is a bit shorter, at only 5 miles in total for a round trip, and the elevation gain is minimal, making it perfect for moderate hiking. The trail itself will have you walking along the Cades Cove, where you can see rhododendron and pine and oak trees. Abrams Falls is only 20 feet tall when you find it, but the amount of water flowing from it is staggering. Make sure to take caution if you plan on taking a dip in the water, as the tides can be fierce.
Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail
Why settle on just one waterfall during a trek up a hiking trail when you can find two? That is exactly the point when you take on the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail, also found inside the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. This trail features separate destinations depending on which end you go down. The side taking you to the Rainbow Falls will reward you with an 80-foot-tall waterfall that towers over everything around it. The other side will take you to the Trillium Gap Trail that will lead you to the 25-foot-high Grotto Falls that you can walk behind; don’t forget your camera phone, as you can take some incredible pics standing behind this waterfall! There is nothing better than having multiple options when you choose this nearby trail.
Laurel Falls Trail
Not all hiking trails need to be challenging to enjoy a rewarding view. When you are inside the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, look forward to the Laurel Falls Trail. This local trail is only 2.4 miles in length and has a minor elevation gain at 396 feet. Laurel Falls Trail is a paved path, so anyone can join you on the trek to the falls. This is the perfect place for a relaxing walk and is accessible all year long. Laurel Falls Trail is often crowded due to its easy nature, so plan ahead for an early morning or late evening hike when less people are out and about.
Charlies Bunion via Appalachian Trail
During the warmer summer months in Gatlinburg, you can explore the beautiful hills of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park by taking the Appalachian Trail. We all learned about the Appalachian Trail back in elementary school, and it can still be accessed right here. Specifically, the trek to Charlies Bunion will have you out on an all-day trek traversing over Mount Ambler, Mount Kephart, and Masa Knob. As you hike up and down the rolling hills, travel over 8 miles in total to and from the end of the trail. This hike is especially known for the beautiful wildflowers that grow just along the trail. Locals recommend sticking to the months of April through October as snow can be present on the trails during other parts of the year.
Book Your Stay in Gatlinburg
As you can see, there are plenty of incredible trails found in and around Gatlinburg that will give you plenty to see and do during your stay. Make the most out of your journey by reserving one of our rental cabins in the area. You will experience authentic cabin living with fine amenities right here in Gatlinburg!
One of our favorite times to invite visitors to see Gatlinburg and the Smoky Mountains is the early summer season. The kids will have just gone on summer break, allowing the whole family to make the journey. The temperature will still be nice and cool, and all outdoor activities will be open. The late summer crowds will not have arrived just yet, letting you explore Gatlinburg with as much space around you as possible. Take a look at some of our early Gatlinburg summer activities:
Visit Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies
You will find all kinds of underwater thrills and critters when you stop by Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies. This local aquarium features a variety of sea creatures such as turtles, sharks, barracudas, and much more. Their habitats are completely viewable from large glass walls. Watch as many of the animals are fed during opening hours of the day. Come see the over 10,000 sea creatures that are housed here. Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies is typically open daily from 9:00 AM to 9:00 PM.
Visit SkyLift Park
One of the area’s most popular attractions is SkyLift Park. This local park features a variety of entertaining features that must be seen to be believed. North America’s longest pedestrian bridge can be found here; it even features glass paneling in the middle so you can look down underneath you. The SkyLift itself is a huge gondola ride that will take you up the mountains for unbelievable views at the overlook. The entrance can be found right in the heart of Gatlinburg, making it easy to get to and enjoy.
Visit Ober Gatlinburg
Ober Gatlinburg is a local attraction that features tons of winter activities during the colder parts of the year. Even after the snow has melted, Ober Gatlinburg has plenty of fun for you to experience. Enjoy summer tubing down the hills or jump in the many different water rides and chutes. Synthetic snow is used to slide down their 250-foot hill for a real tubing experience but in the summer! Indoor ice skating lets you hit the ice and practice your spins or runs from the comfort of being inside. Last but not least is the ice bumper cars that slip around on the ice for a unique spin on this amusement park ride.
Go White Water Rafting or Tubing
While the water might be a little chill at the start of summer you will find river activities more than enticing. Head over to Little River for tubing down the river. This nearby river offers more relaxed rapids that are perfect for beginners. Local companies such as River Rat Tubing will take you on a guided tour for scenic views and thrilling tubing. White water rafting is another exciting activity and is perfect for all ages. Smoky Mountain Outdoors is your go-to rafting company for guided tours that let you cool off with speeding rapids. Some of their tours also give you plenty of quieter moments where you can hop in the river yourself for a quick swim!
Visit Outdoor Gravity Park
Come experience a unique attraction that is one of its kind here in the United States. The Outdoor Gravity Park is a unique theme park that features incredible outdoor activities. Jump into a huge inflatable sphere so you can race on downhill tracks. These courses can be straight downhill or feature zig-zags, making for some exciting races with family and friends. No other park in the country features this type of entertainment, so don’t miss out on this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity!
Go Horseback Riding
Another way to experience Gatlinburg in a unique way is by booking a horseback ride experience. Local stables such as Sugarlands Riding Stables and Smoky Mountains Stables offer guided tours of the backcountry. Beginners will be able to learn the ropes while experienced riders can start off on their trail right away. The early summer season is a great time to ride with these majestic creatures!
Hit Up the Distilleries
Gatlinburg has plenty of local spots where you can enjoy an adult beverage in the beautiful weather. Tennessee is especially known for the creation of moonshine that has become a national hit. Visit one of the local distilleries to try out handcrafted spirits made into a delicious cocktail. Local spots such as Sugarlands Distilling Company and Ole Smoky are some of the most favorite locations. Some of the distilleries even allow children to accompany you.
More Fun in Gatlinburg This Summer
You will find Gatlinburg is open and ready for all visitors this summer season. Come visit early so you can beat the late summer crowd. Reserve one of our vacation rentals today and see how much fun you can have in Gatlinburg!
The perfect vacation getaway is located right here just outside of the Smoky Mountains in Gatlinburg. Our travel destination features all kinds of incredible activities and attractions that will make for an exciting vacation. During your stay, make sure you treat your loved one to a romantic date that shows how much you care for them. Gatlinburg has a variety of romantic activities that are frequented for date nights. Take a look at these places to go in Gatlinburg:
Spend the Day at Ober Gatlinburg
One of the most popular attractions right here in Gatlinburg can be seen when you simply look up. That’s right, Mount Harrison offers one of the best date spots here in the Smoky Mountains. Ober Gatlinburg features one of the best ski resorts in the country. You can find a variety of ski slopes with various experience levels. Winter sports enthusiasts will find all they need for a romantic yet exciting date as they glide down the mountain trails together. If you need a little more romance on your Ober Gatlinburg date, simply walk inside and see what else is offered. Take your loved one on a shopping spree in one of the two malls located in the complex. Onsite restaurants offer delicious food. The best part of a date at Ober Gatlinburg is the ride on the gondola. The aerial tramway takes guests from downtown Gatlinburg up to the top of Mount Harrison. You can expect amazing views from this altitude. Cuddle up with your loved one and enjoy the ride!
Sharing an amazing view together is one of the greatest ways to spend a romantic date here in Gatlinburg. Another great spot where you can find unbelievable views is over at SkyLift Park. This local landmark features the SkyLift, a gondola ride that will take you up to Crockett Mountain. The ride has you elevated 500 feet above the ground for majestic views. At the top share a quiet moment together as you overlook the SkyDeck where you can enjoy a panoramic view of Gatlinburg. Another great part of SkyLift Park is the SkyBridge. This recent addition is the longest pedestrian suspension bridge in the world; when you get out to the middle you will find glass panels let you look down below. You can find a combination of thrills and beautiful views when you take your date to SkyLift Park!
Gatlinburg Space Needle
One thing you will notice about most of Gatlinburg’s date night hotspots is the incredible views they provide. The same can be said when you take your date to the Gatlinburg Space Needle. This iconic landmark found right here in the city stands over 407 feet tall. A date spent on top of the observation deck allows you and your loved one to enjoy panoramic views of the city down below. We recommend enjoying this sight at sundown when the sun starts falling in the backdrop creating a splash of beautiful colors across the sky.
Go Wine Tasting at a Local Winery
Gatlinburg features various places where you and your loved one can share a nice bottle of wine together. Visit a local winery to slow down your evening and enjoy locally crafted wines. Gatlinburg Wine Cellar is a local favorite that is open daily and offers free wine tastings. Once you have found your favorite wine buy a bottle to bring back with you to your vacation rental. Smoky Mountain Winery is another great option and is the oldest winery in this part of the country. You will immediately notice how their award winning wines have become local favorites.
Romantic Dining Places to Go in Gatlinburg
Of course, you cannot have a wonderful date without having a meal at one of the several romantic restaurants right here in town. Visit Cherokee Grill and Steakhouse where you can find a romantic ambience and incredible food. This restaurant features traditional American food such as seafood, steak, and burgers inside a mountain lodge setting. Each entrée is made to order and absolutely worthy for your date. Try out one of the handcrafted cocktails that can easily pair with a steak. Another great option is the Melting Pot, a fondue restaurant that offers luxury dining and romantic settings. You will enjoy a multi-course meal where you can enjoy items cooked in the fondue pot right in front of you. The selection of wine cannot be beat along with the sweet and delicious dessert options too. Both restaurants continue to serve for indoor dining.
More Romance in Gatlinburg
As you can see, there are plenty of romantic hotspots right here in Gatlinburg. Make the most of your stay by reserving one of our luxury vacation rentals. You will have access to fine amenities and privacy that other local lodging options cannot provide. Call today and find the perfect rental for you.