If you’re planning a vacation and would like a quick comparison of Dry Tortugas 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 Dry Tortugas National Park.
Table Of Contents
- 1 Dry Tortugas National Park Overview
- 2 Great Smoky Mountains National Park Overview
- 3 Hiking At National Parks
- 4 Dry Tortugas National Park Hiking Trails
- 5 Hiking Overview at Great Smoky Mountains National Park
- 6 Wildlife at Dry Tortugas National Park
- 7 Wildlife at Great Smoky Mountains National Park
- 8 What’s the best time to visit?
Dry Tortugas National Park Overview
Almost 70 miles (113 km) west of Key West lies the remote Dry Tortugas National Park. This 100-square mile park is mostly open water with seven small islands. Accessible only by boat or seaplane, the park is known the world over as the home of magnificent Fort Jefferson, picturesque blue waters, superlative coral reefs and marine life, and the vast assortment of bird life that frequents the area.
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.
Dry Tortugas National Park Hiking Trails
Dry Tortugas National Park is home to some of the best hiking trails in the country. The easiest trail is the Garden Key Trail, which winds through botanical gardens and offers stunning views of the Gulf of Mexico. For a more challenging hike, try the Fort Hill Trail, which climbs to the top of a 19th-century fortress for sweeping panoramas of the island. Dry Tortugas is also home to the longest hiking trail in the park system, the Loggerhead Key Nature Trail. This 10-mile round-trip trek takes hikers through mangrove forests and tidal lagoons in search of wildlife. No matter what your level of experience, Dry Tortugas National Park has a hiking trail that’s perfect for you.
Best Hikes At Dry Tortugas National Park
The ratings below are based on user-submitted data at AllTrails.com
|Hike Name||Elevation Gain||Difficulty Rating||Type||Average Rating|
|Fort Jefferson Loop||0.9144||1||loop||4.5|
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 Dry Tortugas National Park
Dry Tortugas National Park is home to a variety of plant and animal life. The park’s diverse habitats – including beaches, mangroves, seagrass beds, and coral reefs – provide shelter and food for a wide range of species. Among the most common animals you’ll see in the park are birds; Dry Tortugas is home to over 320 species of birds, including pelicans, herons, egrets, and roseate spoonbills. The waters around the park are also teeming with marine life; snorkeling and diving are popular activities for visitors, and you can expect to see a variety of colorful fish, turtles, and coral. Dry Tortugas National Park is an important stopover for migratory birds, and it’s also home to several endangered species, such as the Key deer and the Dry Tortugas pink shrimp. Whether you’re exploring the park by land or by sea, you’re sure to see an amazing array of plant and animal life.
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.
Dry Tortugas National Park Weather Considerations
Dry Tortugas National Park is located in the Gulf of Mexico, about 70 miles west of Key West, Florida. The park has a tropical climate with warm weather year-round. However, there can be some variation in temperature and rainfall between the different seasons. The best time to visit Dry Tortugas National Park is from December to April. This is the dry season, with average temperatures ranging from 73-81 degrees Fahrenheit. There is also less chance of hurricanes during this time of year. The worst time to visit Dry Tortugas National Park is from May to November. This is the wet season, when average temperatures are slightly higher (78-86 degrees Fahrenheit) and chances of rainfall are increased. Hurricanes are also more likely to occur during this time of year.
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.