Daring heights, tremendous speeds and rapid waters are just some of the outdoor thrills in the Smoky Mountains. There are many fun activities to try in this area, so get outside and play! The natural landscape offers many visitors the opportunity to partake in their favorite activities and sports. Others may discover a completely new passion while soaring, coasting, or paddling through some of the most beautiful locations on earth. Plus, the scenery of the blue hazed mountains and flowing rivers add to the appeal of these adventures. Are you brave enough to try some of these activities?
Take a fast ride on a Mountain Coaster to experience a unique thrill. And there is no better place to try a mountain coaster than in the Smokies. It’s like a non-motorized go-kart on rails! After a leisurely climb in your cart to the top of the mountain, coast around bends and curves on a scenic journey to the bottom. Ride in a cart you control at either The Smoky Mountain Alpine Coaster in Pigeon Forge, The Coaster at Goats on the Roof (also in Pigeon Forge) or The Rowdy Bear Mountain Coaster in Gatlinburg. The easy-to-operate brake is in your hands so you can actually go as fast as you like (up to about 25 mph) or, if you prefer, take a slower ride down the mountain. Let gravity do the work on this personal roller coaster ride. Few places in the United States offer rides like this, so jump on for an exhilarating (or relaxing) trip down the mountain.
Another exciting and must-do activity is zip-lining and climbing through obstacles high above the treetops. There are numerous locations throughout the Smokies where you can try your agility on rope courses of varying difficulty (check your What-to-Do guide for coupons!) or on zip-lines that propel you from dizzying heights to the next platform. Some locations combine the two activities: participants might cross bridges made of ropes and suspended planks before zip-lining to the next challenge along the course. Varying courses have different difficulty levels so challenging climbs can be tackled by first-timers and “frequent flyers” alike. Even those with a fear of heights may find these challenges to be an enjoyable and safe way to conquer their phobia. You’ll also get great aerial views of the Smoky Mountains!
Spelunking, or exploring caves, is a fun and interesting way to view natural parts of the world you typically don’t get a chance to see. The guides at Forbidden Caverns offer tours through underground passages and by beautiful rock formations throughout most of the year. It is especially refreshing to go below the surface of the earth in the summer to escape the heat of the sun. This destination near Sevierville is sure to astound visitors and is a must-see attraction while in the Smoky Mountains.
The mountains aren’t the only natural feature that entices people to the region to engage in outdoor activities. The rivers attract adventurers too! For a heart-racing experience, take a whitewater-rafting trip down the river on an inflatable raft. Knowledgeable guides and your protective gear will keep you safe (but probably not dry) as your rafting team navigates the rapids and paddles through the water. Varying levels of difficulty are available depending on the class of rapids you ride. For instance, even kids as young as 3 can go on the scenic Class I or II adventures in the Lower Pigeon River, where paddlers will get to enjoy a slower pace. It’s a great introduction to whitewater rafting that takes paddlers past cliffs and lush forests. Class III and IV rapids will challenge teens, adults, and even kids over 70 pounds with the natural obstacles of the Upper Pigeon River, where tours typically progress along approximately 6 miles of frothy, rushing water. This is truly one of the most popular destinations for whitewater rafting in the nation, and the highly trained guides will work to ensure you have a blast. They even provide transportation to the launch site so that you can conserve your energy for the rapids. To try whitewater rafting in the Smokies, book a tour with any one of the companies in the region including Smoky Mountain Outdoors, Big Creek Expeditions, Rafting in the Smokies, River Rat Great Smoky Mountains or Rafting Outdoor Adventures. While visiting this region, rafting is an experience that should not be missed!
The whole family will love racing around outdoor tracks! At The Track, which has two locations in Pigeon Forge, not only will your heart be racing, but the rest of your body will be as well. Take your pick of a few different racetracks including their most popular, the Wild Woody—a wooden track that is 3-and-a-half stories tall. The rookie karts and track are perfect for young drivers who want to take out their own car, and even 4-year-olds can drive Kiddie karts here. Meanwhile, Xtreme Racing prides itself on having super-fast Xtreme Karts—so speedy that before driving these, riders must first qualify on the Pro Karts. Try racing around their 3,500-ft. “Xtreme Track” or their elevated course that provide varying racing experiences—from fast with a lot of turns to elevated with smooth-tracked loops. For a variety of different racing cars and tracks, visit the NASCAR SpeedPark. At this racing venue, the favorite track for wannabe professional drivers is the Smoky Mountain Speedway where racers drive a smaller replica of a real Sprint Cup car. However, rookies should probably try out The Qualifier or ride as a passenger on the Family 500 tracks. They’re more suitable for smaller drivers and a great first race experience.
To see more of the beauty of the Smokies, take a thrilling ATV ride with Bluff Mountain Adventures. On a 1- or 2-hour tour, you’ll traverse streams and mountainous terrain while exploring the wilderness.
Perhaps you would like to make a full day out of adventures that are renowned in the Smoky Mountains. If that’s the case, there are a few areas that offer many of these activities and even some unique ones in the same place. Begin in the morning with an ATV ride and conclude your day zip-lining or horseback riding. Or maybe you would prefer to take a rafting tour before negotiating your way around a ropes course. At places such as Foxfire Mountain Zip Line Adventure Park, Legacy Mountain, Jayell Ranch, and Dubby’s Adventure Park at Five Oaks, the outdoor fun never stops. A full day of exciting activity awaits—but you’ll probably need a few days to do it all!
Have a great adventure outside while vacationing in the Great Smoky Mountains!