A popular mountain retreat in eastern Tennessee is situated just outside of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The closest bigger town is Knoxville, some 39 miles to the northwest. The city attracts thousands of visitors throughout the year, and the best months to visit are from June to late October. The area receives a lot of precipitation the whole year, but it also has hot summers with an abundance of sun.
If you’re into Appalachian culture and want to explore the Great Smoky Mountains, Gatlinburg is a great hub to start. Foreign visitors from countries in Visa Waiver Program will need travel authorization. You can get esta online with a straightforward application, and you will know the outcome in around 72 hours. With an ESTA permit, you can explore the US for up to 90 days.
What to do in Gatlinburg in June
You can start with an accessible Parkway Trolley that begins with its rides in mid-June. There are numerous attractions along the way, and you’ll get to know cool downtown Gatlinburg. Find a trolley locator and hop on the free ride.
One of the fascinating things in this time of year is the Synchronous Firefly event. A few weeks in May and June, a particular firefly species in the nearby national park blink simultaneously on and off in huge numbers. The most notable place to take a look is Elkmont Campground, but not all can participate. There is a lottery system to get the parking pass.
Gatlinburg is almost on the border of North Carolina, and you can explore the scenic, historic road between the two states. The reward is series of incredible views, and you can climb to the observation tower on the highest point of the Great Smoky Mountains, the Clingmans Dome. You will have to hike on a 0.5-mile trail to reach the viewpoint.
There are a few other viewpoints in the National park. Mt LeConte is regarded as the most scenic peaks in the eastern part of the county. It’s the 3rd tallest in the Smoky Mountains, and there is 10 miles Alum Cave trail, so you will have to give it at least half a day. Along the path, you can see geological structures like Arch Rock and Alum Cave Bluffs.
The national park area is filled with more than 2000 miles of streams. There are numerous waterfalls and places to cool off from the early summer sun. You can also find swimming holes with refreshing water. The Sinks Waterfall, the Wye at Townsend, and Midnight Hole on Big Creek Trail are the most notable swimming places.
Wildlife encounter Gatlinburg
There are over 1600 bears in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The black bears thrive in mountainous, densely forested areas, and millions of tourists every year can see the majestic animal in nature. The best place to see the bears and other wildlife in the area is Cades Cove, a broad valley surrounded by mountains. Animals pass by in numbers, and there are fewer trees and places to hide. You can see white-tailed deer, coyote, ground hog, turkey, and many others, along with the bears.
Alternatively, you can visit Wildlife Encounter at Ober Gatlinburg, a small zoo with black bear families, river otters, bobcats, raccoons, skunks, owls, flying squirrels, and snakes.
With so many visitors annually, it’s not unusual for Gatlinburg to have numerous museums. The Hollywood Star Cars Museum features some of the most iconic cars from movies and shows. You can see DeLorean from Back to the Future, two Batmobiles, Herbie, and many others.
Titanic Museum looks like a replica of a famous giant ship. You can explore hundreds of original artifacts from the actual Titanic, some recreated rooms from the ship, and a few interactive exhibits.
Salt and Pepper Shaker Museum is unique, and to our knowledge, it’s the single such museum in the world. It has more than 20,000 shakers. Ripley’s, Believe It or Not, is another quirky museum in downtown Gatlinburg with weird and unusual exhibits. Other notable museums include Alcatraz East Crime Museum and Hollywood Wax Museum.
Things to do in Gatlinburg at night
If you explored the nearby national park, you could unwind at numerous bars and restaurants in the evening. Some offer live music of various genres. But if you want some more activities, visit the Island in Pigeon Forge, where you can ride on a 200-foot tall Ferris Wheel.
Climb to one of the viewpoints and enjoy a picturesque night panorama of Gatlingburg. You can go to Gatlinburg Sky Lift, Aerial Tramway at Ober Gatlinburg, or Space Needle for the best views.
Before booking plane tickets and accommodation, you should check esta application status. There are cases when the application is rejected, and after you get the travel authorization, you’ll have plenty of time to plan the trip with a two-year window for visiting the US.
Gatlinburg comes alive in late spring, although you can visit throughout the year. The town itself has a certain vacation vibe, and it is a perfect hub to explore the Great Smoky Mountains, abundant wildlife, scenic viewpoints, and numerous other attractions.