It’s never too early to start planning your summer vacation in the Smokies! The area offers a variety of outdoor adventures that are great for the whole family. From mountain biking to ziplining, there is plenty of fun to be had at this time of year. To help you make the most of your getaway, Pigeon River Campground has put together a guide to three of our favorite things to do in the Smoky Mountains in the summer. Check out all the fun details below:
1. Synchronous Firefly Viewing
Every year in late May or early June, the Elkmont area in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is aglow with Photinus carolinus, a firefly species that flashes their lights in unison. Visitors can observe this incredible phenomenon during eight days of predicted peak activity for the fireflies. The National Park Service provides a shuttle from Sugarlands Visitor Center to Elkmont for firefly watching during this time.
Anyone who wants to see the synchronous fireflies at Elkmont must register for the annual lottery to distribute parking passes. The lottery typically opens around the end of April. For more information, visit the official Synchronous Fireflies section of the National Park Service website.
2. White Water Rafting
For the adventurous spirit, white water rafting is one of the most thrilling things to do in the Smoky Mountains in the summer. This outdoor adventure offers breathtaking scenery along the Pigeon River and is a great way to have fun while cooling off.
Pigeon River Campground is located steps away from Smoky Mountain Outdoors, the largest rafting company on the river. Guests can choose a mellow trip along the Lower Pigeon River, or they can enjoy an exhilarating journey along the Upper Pigeon River. Regardless of which trip you take, you are guaranteed to have an unforgettable rafting experience. To learn more, visit the official Smoky Mountain Outdoors website.
3. Smoky Mountain Waterfall Hikes
Taking a hike in the Smokies that leads to a waterfall is the ideal way to spend a summer day. Not sure where to start? Try one of our favorites below:
Middle Prong Trail (strenuous) – 8.3 miles roundtrip – Flowers as well as waterfalls are featured on this trail. In the first two miles you may see foamflower, toothwort, violets, wood sorrel, and trilliums.
Hen Wallow Falls (moderate) – 4.4 miles roundtrip – This 90-foot-high waterfall begins as a 2-foot-wide creek that fans down to a base that is 20 feet wide.
Grotto Falls (easy) – 2.6 miles roundtrip – Trillium Gap Trail runs through an old-growth hemlock forest, running behind the 25-foot-high waterfall.
Ramsey Cascades (strenuous) – 8 miles roundtrip – Ramsey Cascades is the tallest waterfall in the park and one of the most impressive. Water drops 100 feet over rock outcroppings and ends in a small pool.
We’re sure that you’ll have a vacation to remember with all of these fun things to do in the Smoky Mountains in the summer. When you spend your vacation at Pigeon River Campground, you will have the perfect home base for all of your outdoor adventures in East Tennessee. With tent campsites, RV campsites, and camping cabins, we offer a number of great ways to enjoy your stay in the Smokies. To learn about everything Pigeon River Campground has to offer, visit our Amenities page!