Top Three Smoky Mountain Adventure Travel Activities
This fall, I treated myself to a visit to the most popular National Park of them all, Great Smoky Mountains National Park. If you haven't been, I suggest you put this gem on your shortlist as there are plentiful hikes, great rafting conditions, beautiful drives, and even train rides. Enjoy this top three adventure list!
1. Hiking Great Smoky Mountains National Park & Spotting Wildlife
Although I have been known to take long hikes such as the Half-Dome cables hike in Yosemite, the Kumano Kodo in Japan, and the Kalalau Trail in Kauai, I do appreciate day-hikes. One of my favorite hikes on the southern side of Great Smoky Mountains National Park and near Bryson City is Deep Creek. This is a loop-trail with multiple waterfalls, a well-maintained trail, and very doable for all ages. For a post-hike treat, there are multiple tubing operators that rent tubes floating down the pristine Deep Creek.
Many visit the Smoky Mountains wanting to hike a portion of the Appalachian Trail. If you are up for the same great views as those courageous enough to do the AT, but would like a short-hike, I highly recommend the Wesser Bald Fire Tower trail. You'll reap the views like above in 2.8 miles roundtrip.
Be prepared for wildlife and on your adventures through the Great Smoky Mountains. However, don't get too close or disturb the elk per park rules. This elk was near the road in the Cataloochee Valley area of the park. It happened to be mating season so the bulls were very vocal, trumpeting to call their mates.
2. Rafting the Nantahala River
The Nantahala (pronounced Nana-heyla) River Gorge is world-renowned for whitewater kayaking and rafting. Many operators have guided tours or equipment rental. Since both myself and my PIC were experienced kayakers and rafters, we opted for the self-guided whitewater rafting trip that would take us approximately 8-miles through Class II rapids. The picture above shows us entering the final falls. Depending on the speed of the water, you can opt for rafts or inflatable kayaks (duckies). Of all of the adventures on this list, this was the highlight of the trip.
3. Taking the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad
I believe that taking different modes of transportation through a destination allows one to see the place with new eyes. That's why I would suggest that in combination with using your two feet to hike the Smokey Mountains and/or two arms in paddling the Nantahala River, that you also enjoy a ride on the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad. Leaving from Bryson City, you can opt for morning or afternoon trains and depending on the time of year some VIP seasonal rides. This is fun for all ages where no one has to drive nor listen to Siri for directions. All aboard!
If you haven't been to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, I hope that this top three list of adventure travel activities has piqued your interest.
As always, here's to looking up!