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Outdoor Family Activities in Gatlinburg TN

March 23rd, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments

When you plan a family vacation to Gatlinburg, TN and The Great Smoky Mountain National Park, there is so much to do.  When you get tired of shopping, having fun at Dollywood, and any of the other attractions, there are many things that you can do outdoors as a family.

Here are some of these great outdoor family activities:

Fishing—There are over 1,000 Tennessee fishing lakes, rivers, ponds, and streams.  These can be found on one of the streams in The Great Smoky Mountains National Park or in downtown Gatlinburg along the Little Pigeon River.  You can purchase your fishing license at the Gatlinburg Welcome Center.  The streams are stocked on Thursdays by The City of Gatlinburg from their own trout farm.  This is the only day that fishing is not allowed inside the city limits.  There is even a handicap fishing pier, which meets all wheelchair slope requirements, to a concrete pier near the river.  It is the first fast-water handicap fishing pier in Tennessee.  Check before you go on vacation to see what you need to obtain a non-residential fishing license.

Bicycling—This is one way to get around the one way 11 mile loop at Cades Cove.  If you were not able to bring a bicycle, then you can rent one at Cades Cove.

Bird Watching—The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the premier location for bird watching.  There have been over 240 species of birds have been found in the park and sixty species are year-round residents.  There are nearly 120 species that breed in the park, which include 52 species from the neo-tropics.  Many other species used the park as a stopover and foraging area during their semiannual migrations.  Some are found at certain elevations in distinct habitats while other may range over several habitats

Golf—For a challenge you can choose a game of mountain golf with the same rules as regular golf but the course is slightly different.  It is not on a flat course but one that is up and down with hardly a flat spot.

Horseback Riding—When you decide to go for a horseback ride, you will be viewing the countryside the old fashion way.  There are many places that offer guided back country excursions for grownups and children alike.  Some of the trails will have you climbing along the streams inside the National Park, and if you are lucky you may see some wildlife on the scenic wilderness trails.

Hiking—There are over 800 miles of hiking trails that range from easy to difficult.  You can choose a day, over night, or week-long hiking trip.  A popular day hike is the 8 mile roundtrip jaunt to Charlies Bunion, which is located on the Appalachian Trail.  The first thing you need to do is decide what you want to see before you choose a trail, plus if what difficulty trial you want.  These trails can lead to waterfalls, old growth forest, and endless views.  For novices, a five mile roundtrip is a good maximum distance.  Make sure that you allow plenty of time to complete your hike before dark.  Any of the visitor centers will help you plan your hiking trip.

Whitewater Rafting—There are many outfitters that conduct a guided trip down the Big Pigeon River as well as other regional rivers.  The Big Pigeon River offers three Class IV rapids and twelve Class III rapids and gushes all around and through the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, Martha Sundquist State Forest,  Cherokee National Forest, and the Appalachian Trail.  You do not need to have any experience and the minimum age is 8 years old or 70 pounds.  The upper portion of the river is for the adventurous and the lower section of the river is for a relaxed float trip.

Winter Sports—The Ober Gatlinburg is the only ski resort in Tennessee.  It has eight ski slopes that range from beginning to advanced and is 3000 feet above sea level.  This ski resort uses a combination of man-made and natural snow so visitors can snowboard or ski.  There is an indoor ice skating rink.

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