If you’re planning a vacation and would like a quick comparison of Big Bend National Park and Great Smoky Mountains National Park, we’ve got you covered.
We’ll take a look at what they have to offer in terms of hiking and wildlife, plus what the best time of year to visit might be.
Let’s get started with an overview of Big Bend National Park.
Table Of Contents
- 1 Big Bend National Park Overview
- 2 Great Smoky Mountains National Park Overview
- 3 Hiking At National Parks
- 4 Big Bend National Park Hiking Trails
- 5 Hiking Overview at Great Smoky Mountains National Park
- 6 Wildlife at Big Bend National Park
- 7 Wildlife at Great Smoky Mountains National Park
- 8 What’s the best time to visit?
Big Bend National Park Overview
Big Bend National Park is a breathtaking natural wonder located in southwest Texas. At over 800,000 acres, Big Bend is the largest protected area of land in the state and one of the largest protected areas in all of the United States. The park is home to countless stunning landscapes, from high desert plains and craggy canyons, to winding waterways and wildly rocky peaks. Big Bend offers something for everyone, whether you’re an avid hiker or simply looking for a peaceful place to relax and unwind. Whether you spend a day exploring Big Bend’s most popular features or set off on an extended backpacking trip, you will be captivated by its unique landscapes and unparalleled natural splendor. So if you are looking for an inspiring getaway that offers both adventure and relaxation, look no further than Big Bend National Park!
Great Smoky Mountains National Park Overview
Ridge upon ridge of forest straddles the border between North Carolina and Tennessee in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. World renowned for its diversity of plant and animal life, the beauty of its ancient mountains, and the quality of its remnants of Southern Appalachian mountain culture, this is America’s most visited national park. Plan your visit today!
Hiking At National Parks
Most national parks have some of the best hiking trails you’ll find anywhere in the US.
If you’re planning to take along your furry friend, double-check the rules before you go – as many of the parks have different rules about bringing animals along with you.
Big Bend National Park Hiking Trails
Big Bend National Park offers a wide variety of hiking trails to suit every level of fitness and ability. For those looking for an easy hike, the Window View Trail is a great option. This short, paved trail leads to an overlook with stunning views of the Chisos Mountains. For a more challenging hike, the South Rim Trail is a popular choice. This 8.8-mile trail takes hikers along the edge of a sheer cliff, providing sweeping views of the desert below. Big Bend is also home to the Emory Peak Trail, which at 8.5 miles is the longest trail in the park. This strenuous hike climbs nearly 3,000 feet to the summit of Emory Peak, the highest point in Big Bend. No matter what your hiking goals are, Big Bend National Park has a trail that’s perfect for you.
Best Hikes At Big Bend National Park
The ratings below are based on user-submitted data at AllTrails.com
|Hike Name||Elevation Gain||Difficulty Rating||Type||Average Rating|
|Pine Canyon Trail||304.8||3||out and back||4|
|Ernst Tinaja Trail||39.9288||1||out and back||4.5|
|Cattail Falls||208.788||3||out and back||4.5|
|Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive||525.78||1||point to point||4.5|
|Basin Loop Trail||131.9784||1||loop||4|
|Lower Burro Mesa Pouroff Trail||43.8912||1||out and back||4|
|Marufo Vega Trail||810.768||5||loop||4.5|
|Black Gap OHV Trail||284.988||3||out and back||4.5|
|Tuff Canyon Trail||29.8704||1||out and back||4|
|Chimneys Trail||110.9472||3||out and back||4|
Hiking Overview at Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Great Smoky Mountains National Park is one of the best places to hike in the United States. The park has over 800 miles of trails, ranging from easy to difficult. For hikers who are looking for an easy hike, the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail is a great option. This 5-mile roundtrip hike winds through a beautiful forest and is mostly flat. For those looking for a more challenging hike, the 210-mile Appalachian Trail runs through Great Smoky Mountains National Park. This hike is not for the faint of heart, but those who complete it are rewarded with stunning views of the mountains. No matter what your hiking level, Great Smoky Mountains National Park has a trail for you.
Top 10 Hiking Trails at Great Smoky Mountains National Park
|Hike Name||Elevation Gain||Difficulty Rating||Type||Average Rating|
|Jakes Creek Trail to Avent Cabin||146.9136||1||out and back||4.5|
|Mount Le Conte||993.9528||5||out and back||5|
|Gregory Bald via Twentymile||1145.7432||7||loop||4.5|
|Smokemont Loop Trail||428.8536||3||loop||4|
|Chestnut Branch Trail to Mount Cammerer||1005.84||5||out and back||4.5|
|Silers Bald and Forney Creek Loop Trail||1589.8368||7||loop||4.5|
|Cataloochee Divide Trail||850.6968||5||out and back||4.5|
|Chestnut Top Trail to Whiteoak Sink||602.8944||3||out and back||4|
|Brushy Mountain||528.828||5||out and back||4|
|Noland Divide Trail||1457.8584||5||point to point||4|
Wildlife at Big Bend National Park
Big Bend National Park is home to a diverse array of wildlife, including many species of birds, mammals, reptiles, and amphibians. The park is also home to a variety of plants, including cacti, yucca plants, and mesquite trees. Visitors to the park can expect to see many of these animals and plants in their natural habitat. Big Bend National Park is an excellent place to see wildlife in its natural setting and to learn about the importance of conservation.
Wildlife at Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Great Smoky Mountains National Park is home to an incredible diversity of plant and animal life. Over 10,000 species of plants and animals can be found throughout the park, making it one of the most biologically diverse areas in the world. Among the most popular animals in the park are black bears, white-tailed deer, elk, coyotes, and Great Smoky Mountains National Park bees. Great Smoky Mountains National Park is also home to a wide variety of bird species, including sandpipers, herons, woodpeckers, and red-tailed hawks. In addition to its abundance of wildlife, Great Smoky Mountains National Park is also home to some of the tallest trees in the eastern United States. The park’s forests are dominated by fir and hemlock trees, but you can also find maple, oak, and poplar trees throughout the park. No matter what time of year you visit Great Smoky Mountains National Park, there’s sure to be something new and exciting to see.
What’s the best time to visit?
A lot of times, weather can dictate when it makes the most sense to visit a particular national park.
Plus, depending on the types of activities you’re hoping to take part in, seasonality will be a huge factor in whether those things are even available.
Big Bend National Park Weather Considerations
Big Bend National Park is a nature lover’s paradise, offering hikers the opportunity to explore canyons, mountains, and desert terrain. The park is also home to a diverse array of plants and animals, making it a popular destination for birdwatchers and wildlife enthusiasts. With so much to see and do, it’s no wonder that Big Bend is one of the most popular national parks in the country. But when is the best time to visit? The answer depends on what you’re looking for. For example, if you’re interested in seeing the wildflowers in bloom, the best time to visit is spring. Big Bend is also a great place to escape the heat of the summer, as temperatures are cooler at higher elevations. However, winter can be a tough time to visit Big Bend, as roads may be closed due to snow and ice. So if you’re planning a trip to Big Bend National Park, be sure to check the weather forecast in advance. That way, you can make sure you visit during the best time of year for your particular interests.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park Weather Considerations
Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a beautiful place to visit any time of year. However, the weather can vary significantly depending on the season. In the winter, the temperatures can dip well below freezing, and the roads may be covered in ice and snow. Spring is a great time to visit, as the temperatures are milder and the flowers are in bloom. However, visitors should be aware that thunderstorms are common in the spring. Summer is the busiest time of year at Great Smoky Mountains National Park, as the weather is warm and sunny. However, visitors should be prepared for occasional afternoon showers. Fall is another great time to visit Great Smoky Mountains National Park, as the leaves change color and the crowds thin out. However, visitors should be aware that cold weather can arrive early in the fall, so it’s important to pack a jacket.