Hosting over 9 million visitors annually, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is America’s most visited national park. It is a landscape that combines natural and cultural history beautifully. History unfolds before the eyes, emerging from lush forests and rich lowland valleys.
Much of the Smokies 500,000 acres are pure wilderness. More species of plants are found within the park than any other area in North America. Over 1,500 flowering shrubs and plants, 124 species of trees and 30 varieties of orchids and grasses can be found here. Interestingly, the Smokies’ unique ecosystem combines two different climates – the lower elevations feature a prime example of deciduous forest while the conifer forests along the mountains’ peaks are more like those found in central Canada.
The Smokies are also home to a diverse array of wildlife, harboring over 60 species of mammals, 200 species of birds, nearly 70 kinds of fish and 80 varieties of reptiles and amphibians. White-tailed deer, red fox, wood chucks, squirrels and raccoons are often encountered on quiet roadsides. Peregrine falcons, red wolves and river otters are recent re-inductees to the park, having been previously eradicated from the area. The black bear (Ursus americanus) is easily the park’s most popular citizen and park officials estimate that between 400 and 600 bears inhabit the park.
As a guest in Wears Valley, you are literally at the gateway to the Tennessee Smokies. There are two entrances to the National Park, one in Gatlinburg, and yours in Townsend, TN just a 15 minute drive down the main road through Wears Valley.
Known as the “peaceful side of the Smokies,” Townsend is a quiet area that attracts visitors who want to enjoy a restful or romantic getaway vacation in the Smokies. Townsend Townsend is a spectacular choice if you hope to marry in the mountains. You’ll find beautiful wedding chapels, outdoor wedding reception locations, and indoor event centers for small, intimate wedding ceremonies to lavish full affairs.
For fun things to do, tubing and picnicking are among favorite activities. Restaurants provide good southern cookin’ and crafters offer plenty of choices for your Smoky Mountain souvenirs, and you definitely need to visit Cades Cove while you’re here. It is almost literally the crown jewels of the Tennessee Smokies!
Cades Cove is a valley offering a multitude of natural attractions for visitors coming through Townsend. Wildlife such as white-tailed deer, bears, coyotes, groundhogs, turkeys, raccoon, skunks, and just about every other type of animal you can find in the mountains.
You can hike, bike, go horseback riding, go fishing, go on a nature shoot (photos of course) and even go camping in the backcountry. You can tour Cades Cove by foot, bike or motor vehicle and numerous hiking trails start in Cades Cove – like Abrams Falls, Thunderhead Mountain, Rocky Top (as in THE Rocky Top that made the song) and the Cades Cove Nature Trail. There are many historic sites like the John Oliver Cabin, the Primitive Baptist Church and the Becky Cable House. Cades Cove is history, nature and potentially raw excitement and fun on one spot.
And there are many other things in the National Park that you should definitely check out once you get to Wears Valley! Such as:
This is one of the most popular hiking trails in the Wears Valley area, and for good reason.
Metcalf Bottoms is considered a beginner-level hike, but all that means is you’ll be able to bring the whole family for a casual walk in the National Park and be surrounded by beauty the likes of which pictures and videos can only hint at! At the end of the 1.4 mile walk is the Little Greenbrier School, a former log cabin school built for local young’uns in 1882 and closed as late as 1936.
An excellent history of this cabin, along with directions and other information on the park, can be found here: http://www.everytrail.com/guide/metcalf-bottoms-trail
Little River Road
Little River Road is something of a “secret weapon” in the context of enjoying the National Park, or as close to one as that context allows. This is simply a road that goes from the Sugarlands Visitors Center in Gatlinburg straight to Townsend, TN. It is a 17 mile road with half a dozen items of interest on the way there:
* Laurel Falls
* Metcalf Bottoms Trail/Picnic Area
* Little Greenbrier School
* The Sinks
* Townsend “Wye”
One of the Gem’s in our area for Smoky Mountain Culture and Heritage is the Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center
Probably the finest museum capturing all the nature, beauty and spirit of Southern Appalachia you will ever see, the Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center is a nonprofit organization dedicating to preserving the history and culture of the Tennessee man from Native American to European Pioneer and on. The Heritage Center provides scout programs, field trip opportunities, facility rentals, and special events like the Fiber Arts Festival, Music of the Mountains, Spring Concert Series and more. See more information.http://www.gsmheritagecenter.org
One of the most popular recreational riverbeds in East Tennessee, the Townsend Wye is a tradition for thousands of locals and visitors every year.
The Wye is just a single river cutting through the National Park running alongside the main road of Townsend, but it’s just wide enough without needing to be too wide, and shallow enough for people to enjoy swimming, fishing, tubing, what have you! There are also plenty of good spots to enjoy a simple picnic or family get-together as well. Parking is free, but you need to expect parking spaces will fill up quickly during the Summer and most vacation periods outside of Winter. Shuttles may also be available for transport.
Wears Valley, Tennessee lies between the most popular areas of the Smoky Mountains. Why not make your vacation home Wears Valley and lie in close proximity to all the beauty, culture, and history that is offered in this beautiful region of the Smokies.