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Bringing your kids to the Great Smoky Mountains is an experience that they’ll never forget. Letting the little ones explore one of the most beautiful and diverse national parks is truly an amazing time and offers numerous opportunities for their imaginations to run wild. Here’s a few tips to make sure that your time in the Smoky Mountains is well spent and unforgettable.

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The Great Smoky Mountains are FREE

Unlike most national parks in the United States, entry into the Great Smoky Mountains is absolutely free. There’s no car charge or per person fee at any of the park’s entrances, meaning you can come and go as you please without ever having to pay for entry.

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Check the Weather

Before heading into the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, we highly recommend you check the weather forecast. While the weather may be warm in the lower elevations, there could be a 20 – 30 degree difference in temperature at the higher elevations in the park. Knowing the weather forecast will help you plan your excursion.

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Wear Comfortable Shoes

If you plan on exploring the hiking trails or paths in the Great Smoky Mountains, we highly recommend tennis shoes or hiking boots. Sandals and flip-flops are not well suited for the mountain terrain and shoes that are too tight, may cause blisters. Furthermore, if you plan on playing in one of the beautiful mountain streams, it’s advisable to wear water shoes or sandals with straps.

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Pack a Jacket

The Smoky Mountains are known for their cool and refreshing mountain breezes, that’s why we always recommend packing along a jacket or sweatshirt when heading into the park. Higher elevations tend to be much cooler than lower elevations and it is definitely cooler in the evenings and at night in the park.

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Bring Towels

Towels are a a great multi-use item to pack along with you when heading to into the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. From drying off after playing in the river, to sitting down in a beautiful meadow in Cades Cove, you’ll find that a towel is a handy item to bring along with you.

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Bring Food and Drinks

One of the amazing features of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is that it is unspoiled and undeveloped. This means that there are no gas stations or restaurants inside of the park. While you can get a snack in Cades Cove during certain hours, and there are vending machines at Sugarlands Visitors Center, outside of those areas, there’s no place to get food or drinks. We definitely recommend packing a cooler with food and drinks to ensure everyone is happy and hydrated.

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Sunscreen and Bug Spray

If you plan on spending a lot time outside while exploring the Smokies, we advise that you bring along sunscreen and bug spray, ensuring that no one gets sun burnt or bit by pesty insects. 

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Bring a Change of Clothes

Depending on the day’s events in the national park, you may want to consider bringing along a change of clothes, especially for children. We’ve found that children love to get out and explore the vast wilderness, which can lead to them getting wet or dirty. Having a change of clothes on standby is a smart idea and is highly recommended for the little ones.

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Plan for Fun

Last but not least, plan for fun and exploration. The Smoky Mountains are one of the most diverse locations in all of the world. With over 500,000 protected acres for you to experience, you’re certain to see something that you’ve never seen before. While visiting the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, you and your family can see waterfalls, amazing mountain views, abundant wildlife (black bear, deer, elk, etc.), historic buildings and so much more! Escape the city life and head to the mountains for a fun family experience.