Add These 17 Can't-Miss Smoky Mountain Events & Festivals To Your Travel Itinerary This Spring (2023)

Along with traditional mountain activities and adventures, there are a lot of Smoky Mountain spring events & festivals that you don’t want to miss this year!

The Smokies are among some of the most beautiful places in America, if not on Earth. The Great Smoky Mountain range rises along the Tennessee-North Carolina border in the Southeast United States.

Clingmans Dome, Newfound Gap, Laurel Falls, and Mount LeConte are just a few of the breathtaking scenic locales. On top of that, the mountains are abundant with wildlife, fishing, hiking, and about anything else you can imagine in an outdoor paradise.

Spring in the Smoky Mountains is particularly beautiful and full of life, and Smoky Mountain spring events and festivals are some of the best in the United States. If you’re planning a trip to the region this spring, consider joining some of these festivities during your visit!

Spring Festivals & Events in Gatlinburg & Pigeon Forge Tennessee

The Smoky Mountain region is, for the most part, very rural, with no large population centers. However, Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge have emerged in the last few decades as highly desired vacation and tourist hubs.

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With less than 10,000 people, the area is known as the gateway to the vast Great Smoky Mountains National Park and is home to a plethora of festivals each year. Let’s learn about some of the best Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg Tennessee events in spring.

Flower & Food Festival at Dollywood

April – June

Dollywood’s Flower & Food Festival brings spring to life in dazzling splendor. Discover seasonal magnificence as new larger-than-life Mosaicultures bloom across the park and the delightful new show Bloom! celebrates springtime in the Smokies.

Sample diverse new sensations with a Festival Tasting Pass beneath the rainbow-hued tapestry of Umbrella Sky, while dozens of dynamic performers and more than one million beautiful flowers surround you with boundless inspiration.

For the best experience, combine your park admission to the Flower & Food Festival with a stay at Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort and Spa.

The Smoky Mountain Music Festival


The Smoky Mountain Music Festival is one of the country’s most anticipated events, bringing together talented elementary, middle, and high school music organizations to the city of Gatlinburg in the spring, starting in April.

With its inaugural event held almost 40 years ago in 1983, the Smoky Mountain Music Festival collects musical groups from across the United States to show off their skills and display their best ensemble pieces before a panel of judges.

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The festival is grand, spanning over three weekends, and includes concert bands, jazz bands, orchestras, choral groups, drum lines, and much more. If you love music and the Smoky Mountains, it’s the perfect annual event.

The competition is held at the Gatlinburg Convention Center, but the festival also takes the fun outdoors and features a marching parade of bands throughout the main streets of Gatlinburg for all to enjoy.

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The Smoky Mountains Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage


For more than seven decades, this annual spring festival in the Smoky Mountains in April has attracted visitors from across the United States and around the world. The Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage offers the chance to interact with the plant and wildlife of the Smoky Mountains as the trees bloom in the early months of spring.

The Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage in Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a kind of inauguration of the end of winter and the start of warm weather in Eastern Tennessee and Western North Carolina as the beautiful spring colors emerge from the flora of the region.

During this yearly five-day event, wilderness and nature enthusiasts come to explore wildflower trails in Great Smoky Mountains National Park and proximate areas to experience spring firsthand.

The Pilgrimage begins at the Mills Conference Center in Gatlinburg Tennessee, where participants register, have fun with a plethora of evening events, and meet up to go on tours.

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The Smoky Mountain Trout Tournament


Love to fish? This is absolutely the event for you!

Each year at the beginning of April near Pigeon Forge, the Smoky Mountain Trout Tournament brings together fishing enthusiasts from around the world. This fun-packed event is great for adults and children alike who want to try their hand at catching a few trout.

And don’t worry about coming up empty. Just before the trout tournament starts, over 10,000 trout are set loose across more than 20 miles of Smoky Mountain streams! All you have to do is research and bring a little trout bait, and you might have your hands full!

You can enter the trout fishing tournament for your chance at winning serious cash and prizes based on how many fish you can catch. Or, if you just want to kick back, relax, and catch a few trout for fun, you can do that too!

Keep in mind that a valid fishing license is required to participate in the Spring Smoky Mountain Trout Tournament.

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The Pigeon Forge Rod Run


Tall mountains and cool cars. Sounds like a great combo! The Pigeon Forge Rod Run is an amazing three-day event in April that’s packed with fun for die-hard car lovers!

The Rod Run originated in Gatlinburg in the 1970s as an unofficial event. MCS Promotions took over the event in 1991, and at the time, the only show was in the fall — now known as the Fall Rod Run. The spring show was added four years later in 1995 and has been a massively popular tourist event ever since.

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Hosted at Pigeon Forge’s LeConte Center, this event features a swap meet, hundreds of show cars, a car corral, and much more. The cars are judged and have the chance to receive top-25 awards, ultimate-5 awards, and cash giveaways worth thousands of dollars.

The Pigeon Forge Rod Run is the Smoky Mountain area’s largest and most popular automotive event! The LeConte Center at Pigeon Forge has been newly renovated and will allow for more show cars, vendors, and entertainment. It’s a family-fun, amazing environment!

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Hands-On Gatlinburg

April – May

If you’re into more of the arts-and-crafts side of things, this fantastic and wildly popular event during April-May of each year is for you!

Hands-On Gatlinburg” Arts & Crafts Weekend is the ultimate creative learning experience for those who have always wanted to try their hand at arts and crafts-making.

During this arts festival, an abundance of do-it-yourself-style workshops are offered, from jewelry-making, gourd birdhouse painting, watercolor, glass fusing, basket weaving, candle making, chair seat weaving, and more.

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Smoky Mountain Wine Weekend


Are you interested in the finer things in life? Wine enthusiasts should come to Gatlinburg in the spring when Smoky Mountain Wine Weekend gets rolling.

With two fantastic events — the Gatlinburg Wine Tour and Gatlinburg Smoky Mountain Wine Fest — wine enthusiasts can sample wine and small food plates from some of Tennessee’s finest wineries and chefs.

Of course, you need to be 21 or older to participate in any wine sampling.

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Spring Festivals & Events in Asheville North Carolina

Asheville North Carolina is a gorgeous, vibrant city nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains. It offers incredible restaurants, music, and nature. In addition, the world-famous Biltmore Estate sits just outside of Asheville and draws thousands of visitors.

And, Asheville’s fun culture truly comes to life in its incredible festivals.Here are a few of our favorite Smoky Mountain spring events & festivals in Asheville.

Biltmore Blooms

April – May

You can’t talk about Asheville without mentioning the Biltmore Estate. Perhaps the most famous home in American history, Biltmore is no stranger to hosting incredible events for people from Asheville and beyond.

From April until just about the end of May, the estate’s Biltmore Blooms festival allows visitors to usher in spring with fun and flair. The event highlights the Biltmore grounds with more than 130,000 flowers blooming in gardens fit for royalty.

Biltmore Blooms is the Biltmore Estate’s annual festival of flowers, with more orchids, spring bulbs, tulips, and other flowers than you’ve likely ever seen in one place. It’s a garden and flower lover’s dream come true!

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Carolina Mountain Cheese Fest


Who doesn’t love cheese? Carolina Mountain Cheese Fest is held every year near the end of April at Highland Brewing in Asheville. This festival celebrates Southern artisan cheeses.

During this fun-filled event, you can meet cheesemakers, eat and buy cheese and other delicious dairy products, and learn about the cheese-crafting process from the cheesemakers themselves or by attending a fantastic offering of live workshops, cheese-making demonstrations, and roundtable discussions with the experts.

Do you love animals? You can hang out with the actual dairy cows, goats, and other animals who produce the milk behind the many delicious types of delectable cheeses at the festival!

Asheville WordFest

April (Cancelled for 2022)

And now for something completely different.In late April, Asheville WordFest brings together tremendous local poets and wordsmiths to deliver captivating poetry and prose on a variety of subjects, dazzling the minds of visitors from around the region.

WordFest is a celebration of poetry, stories, interpretations of life, and genius-level wordsmithing on issues that span from Asheville life to social issues to humor and much more.If you’re a fan of the written and spoken word, this is an event you don’t want to miss.

Asheville Beer Week

May – June

Did we mention that Asheville is a craft-beer paradise?The city has become somewhat of a craft beer hub in the Southeast United States.

Every year new breweries are built, with each one offering innovative and distinct flavors to the local offerings. Naturally, a festival that brings each brewery together in one place is the next step!

Asheville offers an incredible array of local craft beers during Beer Week, which occurs at the very end of May and beginning of June. There are fun citywide events, including brewery tours, beer tastings, and dinner-beer pairing events. If you’re a beer lover, mark this event on your calendar.

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Asheville Ideas Fest


There’s a first time for everything, right?While Asheville Ideas Fest is only an inaugural event from June 15-18, 2022, it intends to be among the city’s premier annual events. It will bring in distinguished global thinkers who lead societies with the ideas that will shape our future.

This inaugural event will open with a talk from Pulitzer Prize-winning author and historian Jon Meacham.

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Hola Asheville


Did you know that Asheville has a significant Latin American presence?Hola Asheville is an annual one-day event in June at Pack Square Park in downtown Asheville that celebrates the food, music, and culture of Latin America.

Visitors can experience lively music from across the Latin American world while eating some of the most delicious foods you can imagine, authentically prepared by people who hail from over 20 different countries in Latin America.

Experience cultural pageantry, concerts, and dancing, such as the salsa, bachata, tango, merengue, and much more. You have the opportunity to browse and buy items from local vendors as well.

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More Smoky Mountain Spring Festivals & Events

Thunder in The Smokies

April – May

The Thunder in The Smokies spring motorcycle rally brings together some of the most beautiful rides in the Smokies and is a motorcycle enthusiast’s dream. The event takes place in Maggie Valley North Carolina at the end of April and the beginning of May.

During this festival, you can enjoy food, dancing, motorbike games, concerts, and much more.

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Little River Railroad Days


In early May each year in the tiny town of Townsend Tennessee, the Little River Railroad & Lumber Company shows off the history of the Little River Lumber Company and the Little River Railroad.

This museum in Townsend collects, maintains, and displays the history of these two legacy companies and the railroad people in the Appalachia region, showing them to the world on a special weekend each year.

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Smoky Mountain Scottish Festival & Games


In mid-May each year, East Tennessee shows off its premier celebration of Scottish culture and history for all who care to see! Originally established in 1981 as the Gatlinburg Scottish Festival & Games, the Smoky Mountain Scottish Festival & Games is one of the oldest and most popular Scottish Festivals in America.

Visitors can find and appreciate the deep traditions and rich history of the Scottish and Scots-Irish settlers who came to East Tennessee and whose ancestors still live here today.

The festival will be relocated to the Townsend Visitor Center (7906 E. Lamar Alexander Pkwy.) in Townsend, Tennessee, for 2022.

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Smallmouth King Bass Fishing Tournament


In Sevierville Tennessee, the country’s best anglers can test their bass-fishing techniques in the world-famous bass waters during the annual smallmouth bass, catch-and-release festival. Held in June of each year, the Little Pigeon River plays host to this action-packed event.

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Plan Your Tour of Smoky Mountain Spring Events & Festivals

The Smoky Mountain region of Appalachia, situated where Tennessee and North Carolina come together, is full of some of the best natural beauty in the world. It offers endless adventure among its smoky, green mountains and has some of the best fishing, camping, and outdoor excursions in the United States.

The Great Smoky Mountains is a culturally rich center with a unique flavor of Americana that blends Appalachian, folk, bluegrass, and Southern cultures into a unique and beautiful experience. Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, and Asheville are fast-growing cities that offer plenty of festivals, events, and opportunities to unwind.


What are some major events in the Great Smoky Mountains? ›

We're taking you back to the beginning of it all with 10 important moments in Smoky Mountain history.
  • William Ogle Paid a Visit to “The Land of Paradise” ...
  • Isaac Love Built an Iron Forge. ...
  • Gatlinburg Got Its Name. ...
  • Civil War in the Smoky Mountains. ...
  • The Civilian Conservation Corps Were Created.
Mar 30, 2020

What should you not miss Great Smoky Mountains? ›

9 Essential Attractions and Activities in Great Smoky Mountains National Park
  • Sugarlands Visitors Center. ...
  • Cades Cove Loop. ...
  • Roaring Forks Motor Nature Trail. ...
  • Newfound Gap Road. ...
  • Clingmans Dome. ...
  • Synchronous Fireflies. ...
  • The Sinks. ...
  • Alum Cave Trail to Mount LeConte.

How do people spend 3 days in the Smoky Mountains? ›

A 3-day itinerary in the Smoky Mountains can be as adventurous as hiking the Appalachian Trail and climbing Mount LeConte or as family-friendly as picnicking by the river and playing at amusement parks in nearby Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge.

What is the most visited place in the Smoky Mountains? ›

Surrounded by mountains, Cades Cove is the most visited area of the park and famous for spotting wildlife.

What is the difference between Smoky Mountains and Great Smoky Mountains? ›

“Smoky Mountains” is the official name. That being said, this is America after all. If you want to use the phrase “Smokey Mountains”, it is your God-given right to do so. While the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is always going to be spelled without an “e”, the mountains themselves are up for grabs.

What are 3 interesting facts about the Great Smoky Mountains? ›

10 Fun Facts About the Smoky Mountains That Might Surprise You
  • Home to a Large Diversity of Plants and Animals. ...
  • No Entrance Fee to the National Park. ...
  • Most Visited National Park in the United States. ...
  • Salamander Capital of the World. ...
  • Some of the Oldest Mountains in the World. ...
  • More than 800 Miles of Hiking Trails.

What is the best season for Smoky Mountains? ›

According to when most visitors come to the Smoky Mountains, the best time to visit the Smoky Mountains national park is during the months of June, July, and October. The months with the lowest visitation tend to be in the winter and spring.

What are three 3 rules you have to follow when camping in the Great Smoky Mountains? ›

Fires are only allowed at designated campsites and shelters and must be contained in a fire ring. Constructing new fire rings is prohibited. You may only burn wood that is dead and already on the ground. You may not cut any standing wood.

What is the best way to visit the Smoky Mountains? ›

Top Scenic Drives

The most popular way the 11 million+ visitors to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park enjoy the park, is by driving through it. The park offers a number of beautiful scenic drives. Some offer exceptional long range scenic views, and others offer a more intimate and up close experience.

How do you avoid crowds at Smoky Mountains? ›

Hike Early in the Day

Just start as early in the day as possible. Before dawn, if you can. When we hiked Alum Cave a couple of years ago, the parking lots were full by 8:30 a.m. Besides avoiding the crowds, glimpses of sunrise over the mountains are a pretty sweet reason to go early!

How do people spend 3 days in Gatlinburg TN? ›

Day 1: Clingman's Dome, Laurel Falls, Trolley, Scavenger Hunt, Dinner Theater. Day 2: Aerial Tramway, Gatlinburg Trail, Ghost Tour. Day 3: Pancake Pantry, Moonshine Distillery, Zipline Canopy Tour, Pigeon Forge.

What is the most scenic route through the Smoky Mountains? ›

Newfound Gap Road

Also known as US-441, The Newfound Gap Road is arguably the most iconic scenic drive in the Smoky Mountains.

What is the busiest month in the Smoky Mountains? ›

Summer (June through August)

Like most national parks, summer is the most popular time of year to visit Great Smoky Mountains. July is historically the park's most crowded month, with June not too far behind.

What is the largest city in the Smoky Mountains? ›

Gatlinburg, Tennessee
Population (2020)
• Total3,577
• Density343.48/sq mi (132.61/km2)
Time zoneUTC−5 (EST)
28 more rows

What state is best to see the Smoky Mountains? ›

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park straddles the Tennessee and North Carolina border right near Asheville. Come see why this is the most visited national park in the United States with 11+ million visitors each year.

Are the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains the same? ›

No, the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Great Smoky Mountains are not the same, although they are both located in the eastern United States, are part of the larger Appalachian Mountain range, and the Great Smoky Mountains are a sub-range within the Blue Ridge Mountains.

What is the nickname of the Smoky Mountains? ›

The Great Smoky Mountains Have a Nickname

They called the mountains “Shaconage,” meaning “place of the blue smoke.” For more interesting facts about the Smoky Mountains, take a look at these 13 Facts About the Smoky Mountains You Won't Believe.

What 2 states are the Great Smoky Mountains in? ›

Great Smoky Mountains National Park, encompassing some of the oldest mountains on earth, is located in the Appalachian mountains of North Carolina and Tennessee. The state boundary line bisects the park, which is one of the largest in the eastern United States.

What makes Smoky Mountains famous for? ›

Called the Smokies due to the ever-present morning fog, this mountain range is world renowned for the diversity of its plant and animal life, the beauty of its ancient mountains, and its history of southern Appalachian mountain culture.

Why do so many people go to Great Smoky Mountains? ›

The number one reason the Great Smoky Mountains are so popular is because it's one of the only national parks in the United States that doesn't charge an entrance fee.

What is special about the Smoky Mountains? ›

World renowned for its diversity of plant and animal life, the beauty of its ancient mountains, and the quality of its remnants of Southern Appalachian mountain culture, this is America's most visited national park.

What month is best to see bears in Smoky Mountains? ›

Bears are most active during early morning and late evening hours in spring and summer. Mating usually takes place in July. Both female and male bears may have more than one mate during the summer. Bears choose a denning site with the coming of cold weather.

What are the 2 best bear viewing months in the Smoky Mountains? ›

The best time to see Smoky Mountain bears is during summer because their hibernation season is from November through April. In summer, they are roaming in search of food after a long semi-hibernation.

How many days do you need in Great Smoky? ›

How many days should you spend in Great Smoky Mountains National Park? This park is full of scenic drives and hikes, and I recommend spending at least four full days in the park if you want to see the can't-miss sights.

What is the golden rule of camping? ›

The golden rule of camping is to leave the campsite better than it was. Clearing out old brush and plant debris and raking a spot for the tent are great ways to improve a campsite and it also deters insects and critters.

Can you sleep in your car in the Smoky Mountains? ›

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

While there are a number of beautiful campsites throughout this large park, the campground at Cades Cove is our pick for top car-camping destination. As one of the most popular gateways to the park, Cades Cove will be crowded, especially in the warmer months.

Can you drink alcohol in Smoky Mountains? ›

Alcohol is permitted in campgrounds and picnic areas, provided the person in possession is at least 21 years old. Bicycle riders must comply with all traffic regulations and are restricted to public roads, parking areas, and designated routes.

How long does it take to drive around the Smoky Mountains? ›

A driving tour through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park only takes about two hours. But I recommend planning to spend a lot more time! Clingmans Dome. The highest mountain in the Smokies—in fact, the highest peak on the whole Appalachian Trail—is just a short hike away.

Do I need bear spray in Smoky Mountains? ›

Carry Bear Spray for Protection. Hikers visiting the Great Smoky Mountains National Park are permitted to bring bear pepper spray into the park for the sole purpose of protection against bodily harm from aggressive wildlife. Therefore, consider bear spray as one of your essential hiking items when planning your trip!

Do you need bug spray in Smoky Mountains? ›

Especially during the summer and fall, bugs are rampant in the Smoky Mountains. Bring bug spray with you to prevent bug bites and keep yourself comfortable.

What to do if you encounter a bear in the Smoky Mountains? ›

If you find yourself near a black bear in the Smoky Mountains, you should change directions and move away from the bear. If the bear notices you and follows you, stand your ground and make loud noises to scare it away. You can even throw non-food items such as rocks near it to scare the bear.

What is the cheapest month to visit Gatlinburg? ›

If you're looking to save on your next vacation, consider visiting Gatlinburg in January, February or May. These months are typically the least expensive times to travel, due to lower demand.

What is the busiest week in Gatlinburg Tennessee? ›

To avoid crowds at Smoky Mountains go off season. The busiest week in Gatlinburg typically falls during the first week of July, which coincides with Independence Day celebrations. The off-season months from November through February or late August through September.

How much does it cost to ride the trolley in Gatlinburg TN? ›

There are no fares or fees to ride the Gatlinburg Trolleys.

Gatlinburg Trolleys operate on a daily basis, serving visitors and residents 365 days a year, providing an easy, free way to get around Gatlinburg.

What is the most remote town in the Smoky Mountains? ›

While the Appalachian Trail crosses its summit, Sequoyah is an 11.5-mile (18.5 km) hike from the nearest parking lot, making it one of the most remote places in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

What is the closest town to Great Smoky Mountains National Park? ›

Maggie Valley and Waynesville are the closest towns to the Cataloochee Valley area of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, known for elk herds and a ski resort.

What is the hardest mountain to climb in the Smoky Mountains? ›

To do the most challenging version of the hike, you'll want to take the Bullhead Trail up to Mount LeConte, due to the trail's total elevation gain being close to 4,000 feet it is rated as one of the most strenuous trails in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

What is the Great Smoky Mountains best known for? ›

World renowned for its diversity of plant and animal life, the beauty of its ancient mountains, and the quality of its remnants of Southern Appalachian mountain culture, this is America's most visited national park.

What historical event happened in Gatlinburg? ›

Civil War Comes to the Smokies

While Gatlinburg tried to remain neutral when war broke out, the city was eventually occupied by Confederate troops who wanted to mine saltpeter (a key ingredient in gunpowder) from nearby Alum Cave. The Confederate Army was forced out of Gatlinburg in 1863 after the Battle of Burg Hill.

What is the best month to visit Smoky Mountains? ›

According to when most visitors come to the Smoky Mountains, the best time to visit the Smoky Mountains national park is during the months of June, July, and October. The months with the lowest visitation tend to be in the winter and spring.

What is beautiful about Smoky Mountains? ›

For nature lovers, the Smokies are a true paradise filled with lush green forests, cool mountain streams, and quiet meadows where butterflies flit above the wildflowers. You'll find whitetail deer napping in the dappled sunlight, and trout splashing about in shallow pools.

Why is Gatlinburg so popular? ›

Gatlinburg became a tourist attraction because it's easy to get to, offers endless opportunities for recreation, and its own unique Appalachian culture. Gatlinburg is home to a wide variety of unique things to do.

Who owns the Great Smoky Mountains? ›

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is an 800-square-mile mountain wilderness that is federally owned and managed by the National Park Service.

What food is Gatlinburg Tennessee known for? ›

Famous Foods of Gatlinburg & Pigeon Forge & Where to Get Them
  • fresh rainbow trout.
  • stone ground cornmeal and grits.
  • local wildflower and sourwood honey.
  • homemade candies like taffy and fudge.
  • homemade maple syrup.
  • locally grown preserves and jellies.
  • homemade biscuits and sawmill gravy.
  • apple butter and apple dumplins.

What is the abandoned city in Gatlinburg? ›

After the park service purchased the land and the leases expired, over 70 buildings stood in the park with nobody to maintain them. They began to deteriorate and turned into what is known as the "Elkmont Ghost Town" in the Smoky Mountains.

What year did Gatlinburg burn down? ›

The 2016 Great Smoky Mountains wildfires, also known as the Gatlinburg wildfires, were a complex of wildfires which began in late November 2016. Some of the towns most impacted were Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg, both near Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

How famous is Smoky Mountains? ›

With 14.1 million visitors in 2021, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the most visited national park in the United States.

How many waterfalls does Great Smoky Mountains National Park have? ›

The Great Smoky Mountains boast over 2,000 miles of streams and rivers and precipitation levels that match that of a temperate rainforest. The result? Over 100 waterfalls and cascades to discover within the park borders!

Are the Smoky Mountains the oldest in the world? ›

The Great Smoky Mountains are among the oldest mountains in the world, formed approximately 200-300 million years ago.


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