Fog at the Great Smoky Mountains
Great Smoky Mountains National Park,  Mountains,  USA

Great Smoky Mountains National Park: Fog and Lots of Rain

Last Updated: April 13th 2024.

We visited the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in 2015 on our 6 week road trip through the USA. Sadly, we couldn’t admire the Smoky Mountains that much, since we had rain and fog all day. Just before this we had driven the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Where is Great Smoky Mountains National Park?

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is in the states of Tennessee and North Carolina. It’s roughly between Cherokee in North Carolina and Gatlinburg and Townsend in Tennessee.

Some facts about Great Smoky Mountains National Park

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park covers some 521.490 acres and protects a great part of the Smoky Mountains. The park was established on June 15, 1934 and is under management of the National Park Service.

The Great Smoky Mountains is the most visited National Park of the USA. With over 10 million visitors a year, this is double the visitors the rest of the parks receive. The park is on the UNESCO World Heritage list. The Smoky Mountains are among the oldest mountains on earth. When driving through the Great Smoky Mountains I also got the feeling of being in the presence of something old.

The Great Smoky Mountains offer cascading waterfalls, endless views (at least when there’s no fog) and roaming wildlife. People come here to camp, hike, fish and to see nature in all its glory. The park draws huge crowds in the fall, when cars drive bumper-to-bumper to admire the fall foliage. It’s that spectacular.

The name ‘smoky’ comes from the “smoke” that hovers over the heath balds. Heath balds are tree-free zones where the shrubs have taken over. Here the leaves are densely packed and are air-breathing. They release water and hydro-carbons which is the “smoke”.

Auto touring

There’s a beautiful scenic highway through the park. In the Summer this road can get pretty packed with about 60.000 people on it in the weekends. There’s 384 miles of mountain roads to explore, but most visitors don’t leave their cars. Since it was raining and foggy on our visit, we only explored the park by car, but we have to come back to go on some of the hikes.

There are 2 roads one needs to take while in the park. First one being the Newfound Gap Road to Clingmans Dome. The dome is 6.643 foot and with that the highest point in the park. Driving up here will give a perfect overview of the park. Sadly we had too much fog at this point to get an overview of the park.

The state line sign
The state line sign

The second road to drive (or cycle) is the Cades Cove Loop Road. On this drive you get to experience pioneer history through historic homes and churches. Further there’s mountain scenery and a chance of wildlife viewing.


The Great Smoky Mountains offer 800 miles of hiking trails, ranging from a ½ mile path to a 70 miles long trail. Although a lot of people don’t get out of their cars, hiking is still one of the best ways to experience the Great Smoky Mountains. Yuri spotted some rocks to climb on, but they were too slippery due to the rain.

The most popular hikes are:

  • Charlies Bunion,
  • Alum Cave Bluffs,
  • Andrews Bald,
  • Rainbow Falls,
  • Chimney Tops.

Next to the self-guided nature trails, there are nature walks both at day and evening.

International Biosphere Reserve

With over 1600 species of flowering plants and a wide range of plants and animals, it’s not that crazy that the area is protected. Much of the vegetation is old growth and exists out of many types of eastern forest. The park has some of the world’s best examples of this.

There are blooming wildflowers almost year-round. Besides the flowers the animals abound too, so keep an eye out for black bears.

So go wildlife viewing, spy the burial landscapes and admire the fall colors.

What else is there?

Other things on offer in the park are free naturalist-led activities, children and campfire programs, pioneer exhibits and demonstrations, slide talks, annual festivals, auto tape hour, bicycling, fishing (with a permit), horseback riding, sightseeing historic buildings, picnicking, ranger-led programs and watching waterfalls.



107 Park Headquarters Rd.,


TN 37738

(865) 436-1200

There are 3 visitor centers: Sugarland which is in Gatlinburg, Oconaluftee which is in Cherokee and a minor one, namely Cades Cove in Townsend. All are open daily, and year-round. The national park is open 24/7 and year-round. However the road to Clingmans Dome and a few unpaved roads close during the winter. There’s no entrance fee to the park.


We didn’t stay that long in the Great Smoky Mountains, because of the fog and rain. We didn’t feel like hiking in the pouring rain. But what we saw we loved, and we long to get back to the Great Smoky Mountains and explore some more on foot. It’s all in all a perfect stop on road trips.

Like it? Pin it!

Pinterest Pin

Like it? Pin it!

Pinterest Pin

Pin it for later!


  • Nicole

    It looks so beautiful, so you think you will be back anytime soon? Would love to see and read more. America is so lucky to have so many unspoilt national parks. I hope they continue to preserve them

    • Cosette

      Not back anytime soon, sadly. I live in The Netherlands, so the USA is not an option right now. And yes, the USA is very lucky with the national parks, I love them.

  • Taylor

    I just visited Great Smoky Mountains National Park at the end of March and loved it! It’s the perfect place for a good hike. So glad you got to experience it. 🙂

  • Neha

    I had visited Great Smoky mountains in November, and we were welcomed by icicles and beautiful views. Yes we did we even did get some rain. Driving around was so much fun. Didn’t so the hikes though, but will definitely do a hike next time there

  • Annie

    One of those places I would have loved to have visited when touring the States back in the 1970s, but I’m sure I would get so much more out of it now that I have studied ecology and wildlife. Unfortunately I am not likely to go back – my money stretches further visiting the wild places we have here in Europe.

  • Sonia

    Sorry that the weather didn’t cooperate for your trip. I haven’t had a chance to visit the Great Smoky mountains, but have heard wonderful things about this park.

  • Taylor

    GSMNP has so many good hiking opportunitites. I remember I was first surprised to learn that Great Smoky Mountains is the most visited National Park in the US system – largely due ot its location.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.