Ways to Keep Cool in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park

The most visited national park in the nation, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a must-see for your summertime vacation. The park is a perfect place to enjoy time with the family, a group of friends, or that special someone. With more than 800 miles of hiking, it’s easy to find plenty to do, but at the same time, it’s easy to get worn out from the hot Smoky Mountain sun.

To keep your getaway full of fun, you’re going to need quick ways to cool down. Here are several ways we’ve found to cool down in the national park. But the best advice is simply to drink plenty of water, find shade, and rest when you need to. Take care of your body in the heat and have a great time so you can take home only good memories from your time in the Smokies!

  • Picnic by the water. There are dozens of great picnic spots in the Smokies and hundreds of picnic tables scattered about for your convenience. But if you’re looking for a way to beat the heat, try picnicking by the water. The Chimneys has some great options by the Little Pigeon River—just don’t forget your water-resistant blanket! And to make your picnic even cooler, pack yummy, refrigerated foods like fresh fruit, chicken or tuna salad, string cheese, and baby carrots with hummus dip.
  • Drive or bike instead of walking. Walking through the woods and hiking in the mountains is a great way to enjoy the outdoors together, but when it’s 100 degrees and climbing, it’s not so enjoyable anymore. Try driving the Cades Cove Loop with the windows down instead, or rent a bike and enjoy the feel of the cool breeze through your hair. Horseback riding is another fun option, but be sure your horse gets plenty of time at the stream!
  • Dip your feet in a slow-moving stream. Sometimes we have to remind ourselves that it’s okay to stop and smell the roses—or, in this case, stop and dip our feet in the stream! When you’re hiking and exploring the national park, remember that time is on your side. This is vacation, after all! You don’t have to rush to your destination or hurry back to the cabin. So take some time and enjoy your surroundings. Give your feet a break and bring your body temperature back down with some relaxing, quiet moments along the water.
  • Relax by a waterfall. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is home to 16 amazing waterfalls. Choose a hike to one of these falls so you can reward yourself with a stunning view and cool spot at the end of your walk. Laurel Falls is a great option because the trail is paved and not too long—only 2.6 miles roundtrip. For a truly memorable experience, try the hike to Grotto Falls. This is the only waterfall in the Smokies that you can actually walk behind, so you’ll really get the chance to cool down by feeling the misty water on your face!
  • Go fishing. Along with 800 miles of hiking, the national park also contains 800 miles of streams with fish and protects one of the last wild trout habitats in the eastern United States. People of all ages can fish in these waters all year as long as you are within the boundaries of the park. (You will also need a valid Tennessee or North Carolina fishing license or permit.) This is a great way to bond with your family, spend time in or near the water, and cool down on those long, hot summer days.

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