Great Smoky Mountains National Park vs. Big Bend National Park

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If you’re planning a vacation and would like a quick comparison of Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Big Bend 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 Great Smoky Mountains 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!

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!

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.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park Hiking Trails

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.

Best Hikes At Great Smoky Mountains National Park

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

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

Hiking Overview at Big Bend National Park

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.

Top 10 Hiking Trails at Big Bend National Park

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.