Grand Canyon National Park vs. Great Smoky Mountains National Park

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If you’re planning a vacation and would like a quick comparison of Grand Canyon 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 Grand Canyon National Park.

Grand Canyon National Park Overview

Grand Canyon National Park, in northern Arizona, encompasses 278 miles (447 km) of the Colorado River and adjacent uplands. Located on the ancestral homeland of 11 Associated Tribes, Grand Canyon is one of the most spectacular examples of erosion anywhere in the world—unmatched in the incomparable vistas it offers visitors on the rim. South Rim and North Rim are open 24 hours. Daily updates >

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.

Grand Canyon National Park Hiking Trails

Grand Canyon National Park is one of the most popular hiking destinations in the United States. With over 1,000 miles of trails, there is something for everyone. The Bright Angel Trail is one of the most popular trails in the park. It is a relatively easy hike with gentle grades and well-maintained trail. However, it should not be taken lightly as the descent into the canyon can be challenging. The South Kaibab Trail is another popular option. It is shorter than the Bright Angel Trail but much steeper. Hikers should be aware of the dangers of hiking in the heat and be sure to carry plenty of water. The North Rim Trail is less crowded than the other trails but is more difficult due to its higher elevation. Finally, the Hermit Trail is considered to be one of the most difficult trails in Grand Canyon National Park. It is longer and steeper than the Bright Angel Trail and has very little shade. Hikers should only attempt this trail if they are experienced and in good physical condition.

Best Hikes At Grand Canyon National Park

The ratings below are based on user-submitted data at AllTrails.com

Hike Name Elevation Gain Difficulty Rating Type Average Rating
Grand Canyon Rim Village to Hermit’s Rest 424.8912 1 out and back 4.5
Desert View Visitor Center Trail 10.9728 1 loop 4
Coconino Overlook 141.732 1 out and back 4
Uncle Jim Trail 222.8088 1 loop 4
Dripping Springs via Dripping Springs and Hermit Trail 796.7472 5 out and back 4.5
North Kaibab Trail to Redwall Bridge 801.9288 5 out and back 5
Tanner Trail 1611.7824 7 out and back 5
South Kaibab, Tonto and Bright Angel Trail 1034.796 7 point to point 5
South to North Kaibab Trail 1966.8744 5 point to point 5
Point Imperial 6.7056 1 out and back 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 Grand Canyon National Park

Grand Canyon National Park is home to an incredible variety of plants and animals. Nearly 2,000 species of plants and more than 300 species of animals can be found within the park boundaries, making Grand Canyon one of the most biologically diverse regions in the world. Amongst the towering cliffs and raging rivers, you can find elk and mule deer roaming the forested plateaus, bighorn sheep climbing the rocky mountainsides, and pronghorn antelope running across the open grasslands. In the skies above, you may spot bald eagles soaring on updrafts or golden eagles hunting hares from a vantage point. In the depths of the canyon, you might see black bears foraging in riparian areas or cougars stalking their prey. Grand Canyon National Park is truly a wildlife paradise!

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.

Grand Canyon National Park Weather Considerations

Grand Canyon National Park is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the United States. And it’s no wonder, with its stunning views and rich history. But when is the best time to visit Grand Canyon National Park? The answer depends on what you’re looking for. If you’re hoping to catch a glimpse of the wildflowers that blanket the canyon floor each spring, then March or April is the best time to go. However, if you’re not a fan of crowds, you may want to avoid peak season (July and August), when the park is busiest. December through February is considered the off-season at Grand Canyon National Park, so you may find lower prices and fewer crowds during these months. But keep in mind that the weather can be cold and snowy at this time of year. So, when it comes to Grand Canyon National Park weather, there is no one-size-fits-all answer. It really depends on what you’re looking for in a vacation.

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.