An Adventurer’s Guide to the Smoky Mountains

An Adventurer’s Guide to the Smoky Mountains

Nestled within the heart of Tennessee lies a natural wonderland beckoning anyone in search of an unforgettable wilderness adventure. Welcome to the Great Smoky Mountains, a sprawling landscape teeming with thrilling experiences that will result in memories that last a lifetime. In this guide, we’ll delve into some of the most exciting outdoor activities and extreme sports the Smokies have to offer, from ziplining through the treetops to navigating rushing whitewater rapids. Whether you’re a seasoned adrenaline junkie or a first-time adventurer, the Smoky Mountains welcome you to explore its untamed beauty and enjoy the everything Mother Nature’s playground has to offer.

Ziplining Adventures

An Adventurer’s Guide to the Smoky Mountains

Among the treetops surrounding the Smoky Mountains, a variety of ziplines offers a bird’s-eye view of the breathtaking scenery below. Let’s soar through the air and discover some of the top-rated ziplining opportunities in the region:

  • Foxfire Mountain Adventure Park (Sevierville): At Foxfire Mountain Adventure Park, those looking for an adrenaline spike can embark on a journey through the skies on the Goliath Zipline, soaring over 500 feet in the sky and reaching up to 60 mph (making these ziplines some the fastest in the country)! The Waterfall Canopy Tour offers a more leisurely glide along seven lines and two skybridges, including one that flies above the Lost Mine waterfall. Additionally, visitors can explore the other activities offered at the park, including rope courses, hiking and more for a full day of adventure.
  • Smoky Mountain Ziplines (Pigeon Forge): Located in Pigeon Forge, Smoky Mountain Ziplines offers a thrilling array of ziplining experiences suitable for the whole family. Guides ease participants into the excitement with a gradual progression of lines, culminating in an exhilarating ride on the longest zip course in town. This new and improved zipping adventure, stretching 800 feet in length and soaring 150 feet above the ground, provides a heart-pounding thrill for visitors of all ages.

Rafting Excursions

An Adventurer’s Guide to the Smoky Mountains

For those seeking more aquatic thrills rather than aerial, the rivers of the Smoky Mountains offer the perfect opportunity for one-of-a-kind whitewater rafting and kayaking excursions:

  • Smoky Mountain Outdoors (SMO): Located in Hartford, roughly an hour’s drive from Pigeon Forge, Smoky Mountain Outdoors offers thrilling whitewater rafting excursions along the Lower and Upper Pigeon River. Paddlers can choose between the Upper Pigeon River Rafting trip, featuring Class I to Class IV rapids for a high-intensity experience, or the Lower River Rafting trip, which offers a scenic journey suitable for families. With certified guides ensuring safety at every turn, SMO provides an unforgettable whitewater voyage the whole group will enjoy!
  • Nantahala Outdoor Center (NOC): Situated near the entrance of the park, Nantahala Outdoor Center provides a wide selection of rafting experiences riding the rapids of various rivers in the region, allowing you to select the ideal rafting adventure for you and your loved ones. The Chattooga River Rafting trip offers roughly six hours of Class IV-V rapids, scenic river views and the perfect blend of thrills and technical challenge for those more experienced rafting enthusiasts. The Lower Pigeon River Rafting trip, however, provides a gentler ride suitable for paddlers three years of age and older. With certified guides and top-notch equipment, NOC has everything you need to enjoy the wilder side of the Smokies.

Whitewater Kayaking

An Adventurer’s Guide to the Smoky Mountains

For those seeking a more individualized river-bound experience, kayaking offers the opportunity to navigate the rushing rapids and placid waters of the Smokies up close:

  • Flatwater Kayak Tours: Offering a whole slew of ways to experience the Smoky Mountains, the Flatwater Kayak Tours facilitated through Smoky Mountain Guides (SMG) offers adrenaline-pumping and awe-inspiring kayaking trips on the region. From their most popular and seclude Great Smoky Half Day Tour to the scenic Downtown TN River Tour, suitable for families, SMG provides the perfect setting for paddlers of all skill levels to explore the beauty of the Smokies via kayaking.
  • Adventure Smoky Mountain River Kayaking: Serving the region between Pigeon Forge and Kodak, TN, Adventure Smoky Mountain Kayaking invites visitors to spend a day kayaking, paddling, and splashing on the French Broad River. Whether embarking on an intimate guided paddle or a large group excursion, kayakers can experience the natural beauty of the Smoky Mountains in a unique and unforgettable way.

UTV and ATV Rides

An Adventurer’s Guide to the Smoky Mountains

For those who prefer to explore rugged terrain on wheels or want to experience the fresh alpine air rushing through their hair, off-road ATV and street-legal UTV rentals offer an exhilarating way to experience the Smoky Mountains’ untamed wilderness:

  • Ridge Riders: Located in Pigeon Forge, Ridge Riders Adventure Rentals offers a fleet of side-by-side ATVs, including 2 or 6-seater Can-Am Maverick Turbos and Polaris RZRs, perfect for exploring the beautiful landscape of the Great Smoky Mountains. With automatic transmission, 4-wheel drive, and power steering (as well as heated and enclosed cabs for chillier days), these vehicles provide a comfortable and exciting means of traversing the park. Whether embarking on a self-guided adventure via iconic driving trails or wandering the idyllic mountain towns, Ridge Riders offer a wonderful, open-air way to experience the stunning scenery of the Smokies. Please note that off-roading is not allowed but all UTVs are street-legal and come with a complimentary Smoky Mountain National Park Parking pass so you can take all the time you need soaking in those panoramic views!
  • Off Road Pigeon Forge: Situated in Pigeon Forge, Off Road Pigeon Forge offers guided off-road UTV tours rides covering twelve miles of adrenaline-inducing trails on a 350 acres private mountain property. Intended for all ages, these family-friendly excursions offer breathtaking views, thrilling twists and turns and more than an hour of rugged fun. If you want to create unforgettable memories during a more private off-road adventure in the Smokies, check out their street legal UTV rentals!

Helicopter Tours

An Adventurer’s Guide to the Smoky Mountains

For a truly breathtaking perspective of the Smoky Mountains, helicopter tours offer an unparalleled opportunity to soar above the treetops and take in panoramic views of the majestic landscape:

  • Scenic Helicopter Tours: Based in Sevierville, Scenic Helicopter Tours offers a variety of tour options, allowing adventurers to explore downtown Sevierville, Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg, and the surrounding areas from above. From the National Park Tour to the Grand Tour, each flight offers unrivaled views of iconic landmarks such as Elkmont, Blanket Mountain, and Thunderhead. With knowledgeable pilots sharing local history and legends, these helicopter tours provide an unforgettable aerial adventure in the Smokies.
  • Sevier County Choppers: Operating since 2009, Sevier County Aviation offers scenic helicopter tours of Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg, Sevierville, Douglas Lake, the Smoky Mountain foothills, and even as far as Clingman’s Dome located within the heart of the park. With customizable packages for everything from engagement to aerial photography flights, adventurers can tailor their aerial adventure to suit their preferences (including routes and times). From soaring over the serene Wears Valley to marveling at Cove Mountain and Douglas Dam, these helicopter tours offer a unique perspective on the beauty of the Smokies.

Safety Tips and Recommendations

An Adventurer’s Guide to the Smoky Mountains 

Before embarking on any outdoor excursion in the Smoky Mountains, it’s essential to prioritize safety and preparedness. Here are some guidelines to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience:

  1. Choose a reputable operator with a good safety record. This applies whether you’re ziplining, rafting, off-roading, or taking a helicopter tour.
  2. Follow the instructions of your guides or operators carefully.
  3. Wear appropriate gear for the activity, including life jackets for water sports, seatbelts for off-roading, and helmets where necessary.
  4. Understand the equipment you’re using, such as the braking system in ziplining or the commands in rafting.
  5. Respect weight and height limits and check for any age restrictions.
  6. Avoid alcohol consumption before participating in any of these activities.
  7. Check weather conditions before embarking on your adventure and be prepared for changes.
  8. Stay reasonably within your comfort zone and don’t push yourself to do something you’re not comfortable with. For example, if extreme heights cause you to lose consciousness, we do not recommend a helicopter tour – maybe stick to water-based activities instead!
  9. Communicate any health conditions to your operator or guide.
  10. Follow rules and respect environmental guidelines to ensure not only your safety but also the preservation of nature.

Remember, safety should always be your top priority when embarking on any adventure.

Finding Your Basecamp for Adventure

The Smoky Mountains beckon adventurers with their untamed beauty and boundless opportunities for outdoor excitement. From soaring through the treetops on ziplines to navigating rushing whitewater rapids, the Smokies offer an adrenaline-pumping playground for thrill-seekers of all ages. And after a day filled with adrenaline-pumping adventures in the Smoky Mountains, adventurers can retreat to their luxurious accommodations at Parkside Resort.

An Adventurer’s Guide to the Smoky Mountains

Situated amidst the stunning natural beauty of the Smokies, Parkside offers a variety of cabins featuring fully equipped kitchens, spacious living areas, and luxury furnishings to ensure a comfortable stay. With incredible views, a great safe location, and a wide selection of cabin sizes, Parkside serves as the perfect home base for exploring the wonders of the Smoky Mountains as well as unwinding and relaxing after a day of outdoor excitement. Choose Parkside Resort for an unforgettable Smoky Mountain experience and get ready for an unforgettable adventure in the heart of nature’s playground.

Call us today at 888-908-6066 or visit our website to learn more about our amazing accommodations!