If you are looking for a budget-friendly vacation with plenty of family fun, set your sights on the Great Smoky Mountains National Park this year. It is the most visited national park in the country which means more than nine million people stop by each year.

There is plenty to do in the park to keep family members of all ages entertained, and your budget will love that there is no admission price to enter the park. That’s right, you can explore the 800 square miles of the park without paying for admission. There are estimates that the park contains over 100,000 different species, but scientists haven’t even been able to categorize everything yet.

Planning Your Trip

There is so much to see and do in the park, that you will want to make a solid game plan so that you don’t get overwhelmed upon your arrival. Whether you want to use the trip to just relax and enjoy nature, learn new skills, or delve into the history of the area, you can find the ideal activities to suit your agenda.

Relax in Nature

For those that are simply looking to experience the beauty of nature in the mountains, you can find all of that and more in the park. There are areas for hiking including Alum Cave Bluffs, Rainbow Falls, and Chimney Tops. The Kephart Prong trail is a kid-friendly hike if your family members are on the younger side. It is recommended for kids in elementary school and older.

You can also enjoy fishing, exploring the historic graveyards, and searching for wildlife. The park is teeming with animals including deer, elk, raccoons, turkeys, woodchucks, and the famous black bears. The best times to search for animals is in the early morning and at dusk. Just remember not to feed the animals!

Learn New Skills

Who says a vacation can’t be educational? There are plenty of programs that you can enjoy while you are at the park provided by various groups in the area. The Friends of the Smokies offer guided hikes where you can learn more about the area. The Great Smoky Mountain Institute of Tremont has a variety of programs that you and your family may enjoy from summer camps to family workshops. The Smoky Mountain Field School can help you plan a family adventure with one of their many programs including synchronous fireflies, old-growth forests, stream life, and tracking.

History of the Area

The park is also full of historic areas that you can visit and explore. Consider adding Cades Cove to your itinerary where you can explore historic buildings like churches and cabins. You can bring along your bikes and do a ride around the loop, just make sure you stop to check out all there is to see along the way. The history of the area dates back long before there was a National Park in this spot. You can see Appalachian life dating back to before the European settlers when the Cherokee where inhabiting the area.  

This is just the tip of the iceberg! There is so much more that you can see and do in the park. You can find a trip planner to help you nail down the exact elements that will make your vacation perfect for your family.