camping in the smokies

Top 15 Adventures in the Tennessee Smokies

From mountain tops to rushing rivers, there are tons of adventures to get your adrenaline pumping and provide fun for the whole family.

A trip to the Tennessee Smokies is the perfect chance to experience adventure. A visit to this region is sure to be jam-packed with exciting things to do because thrilling and unforgettable experiences wait around every corner. Whether you’re an adrenaline junkie looking for a place to go wild or a family wanting to spice up your visit and give your kids a great time, the Tennessee Smokies have something for everyone.

Sky Lifts, Chairlifts & Aerial Tramways

Take in the most incredible views and beautiful mountain vistas from a bird’s-eye perspective. Local sky lifts, chairlifts and aerial tramways allow visitors to soar high above the ground. This is the best way to see the unique landscape that draws millions of visitors each year.

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Interactive Indoor Attractions

The Tennessee Smokies don’t just have your normal, run-of-the-mill museums. These attractions are more like indoor amusement parks. Pigeon Forge’s Beyond the Lens has more than 150 interactive exhibits to keep guests entertained and WonderWorks delivers “edu-tainment” with over 100 hands-on exhibits.

Hike the Trails

Great Smoky Mountains National Park has some of the best trails in the nation! Hikers are guaranteed to see amazing sights, awe inspiring vistas, amazing creatures and more! Be sure to plan these exciting excursions ahead of time as trails vary from easy to strenuous.

Close Encounters with Wildlife

From local zoos to the wildest animal parks around, locations throughout the Tennessee Smokies allow families an up-close experience with some of the friendly, local animals. Visitors can pet and feed deer, goats, camels, reindeer, sheep, zebras, kangaroos and more! You can also get swept away by some of the most majestic winged creatures you’ve ever seen with amazing and plentiful bird watching opportunities in the mountains, even including exquisite tropical birds. 

Pitch a Tent under the Stars

While a cabin or rustic chalet sounds cozy, there’s nothing like falling asleep right under the stars. Great Smoky Mountains National Park has a variety of campgrounds for you and your family to spend the night. The backcountry campsites are ideal for backpackers looking to rest after a day of hiking. 

Year-Round Fun at Ober Gatlinburg

The fun doesn’t stop once the temperatures drop. Visit Ober Gatlinburg for some supreme East Tennessee skiing. During winter months, the resort offers guests the chance to glide down a snowy slope on skis, a snowboard or a tube. Of course, once the temperatures rise and the snow melts, there are still plenty of fun activities. Ober Gatlinburg offers some of the best family activities around, including rides, mini-golf, ice skating and more! 

Ride Horseback through the Mountains

Enjoy miles of trails on the back of your own faithful steed. See the sights, without the worry of getting lost, as most trail horses know the paths better than the hikers. Many stables tailor this adventure to the rider’s experience level. There’s even opportunities for kids and first-time riders.

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Zipline Through the Air

The rush of flying high above the Smokies will be an experience you never forget. This activity continues to gain popularity as it gives visitors the best views and an incredible adrenaline rush all at once. Zip over ravines, streams, trees, wildlife and the gorgeous views of the National Park. 

Roller Coasters & Thrilling Rides

If you feel a need for speed, the Tennessee Smokies has some of the most unique coasters anywhere around. Mountain coasters zip riders down the slopes and give you an unforgettable rush. Many mountain coasters allow the rider to control the speed. There are also tons of amusement parks and attractions filled with rides for every age.

Outdoor Recreational Thrills

Experience nature from a whole different level! Anakeesta, a park located in the heart of Gatlinburg, offers exciting activities for the entire family including scenic rides on the Chondola or Ridge Rambler vehicles, breathtaking views from the AnaVista Tower and tree canopy-level perspectives from the Treetop Skywalk. And not-to-be-missed is a visit to Gatlinburg SkyLift Park’s Gatlinburg SkyBridge, which spans nearly 700 feet across a valley and is the longest pedestrian cable bridge in North America.

Take a Wild Ride in an ATV

Get off the beaten path and embark on an adventurous ATV tour through the wilderness aboard an open-air, all-terrain vehicle. Ride on off-road trails while weaving through trees. Hold on tight, this isn’t your everyday family-fun activity.

Float along the Scenic Streams

The Little River offers a number of exciting mountain rapids along with slower moving waters that are perfect for some family fun. The lower section, ideal for ages 2 and up, is great for a slower-paced, family-friendly float. Cruise along the relaxing rapids as you take in the scenic views. To kick it up a notch, go for an adventurous float on the upper section. Get your adrenaline pumping along these rapids, optimal for ages 6 and up.

Make A Splash while Whitewater Rafting

Featuring miles of heart-stopping rapids and family-friendly waters, it’s easy to see why the Pigeon River is one of the most popular whitewater rivers around. 

The Upper Pigeon features miles of class III and IV rapids that are perfect for an extreme rush. The Lower Pigeon, with gentle class I and II rapids, is great for ages 3 and up. Both the Upper and Lower sections are accompanied by gorgeous, unforgettable scenery. 

Extreme Mountain Biking

There’s nothing like taking a bike ride through the mountains. But a bike ride in the Tennessee Smokies is an experience like no other. Rent a bike or bring your own and take to the trails. You will find incredible wood tracks that give advanced bikers a thrilling adventure. Bikers will find themselves cruising along bridges and taking on incredible rollers, berms and more!

Explore the Depths in Local Caves & Caverns

A visit to the Smokies wouldn’t be complete without a spelunking adventure. Tennessee contains more caves and caverns than anyplace else in the United States. These remarkable places are attractions your whole family will love, full of wonder and excitement. 

Tennessee Smokies Visitors Guide 2022