Great Smoky Mountains National Park vs. Wrangell – St Elias National Park & Preserve

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If you’re planning a vacation and would like a quick comparison of Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Wrangell – St Elias National Park & Preserve, 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!

Wrangell – St Elias National Park & Preserve Overview

Wrangell-St. Elias is a vast national park that rises from the ocean all the way up to 18,008 ft. At 13.2 million acres, the park is the same size as Yellowstone National Park, Yosemite National Park, and Switzerland combined! Within this wild landscape, people continue to live off the land as they have done for centuries. This rugged, beautiful land is filled with opportunities for adventure.

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 Wrangell – St Elias National Park & Preserve

Wrangell – St Elias National Park is a haven for hikers of all levels of experience. Novice hikers can start with the easy Crosswind Lake trail, which offers stunning views of the surrounding mountains without too much elevation gain. For those looking for a more challenging hike, the Crescent Lake trail is a great option. It is longer than the Crosswind Lake trail and has a steeper elevation gain, but it is still considered to be relatively easy. More experienced hikers can tackle one of the park’s difficult trails, such as the Donoho Peak trail, which summits one of the park’s tallest peaks. Wrangell – St Elias National Park is truly a paradise for hikers of all levels of ability.

Top 10 Hiking Trails at Wrangell – St Elias National Park & Preserve

Hike Name Elevation Gain Difficulty Rating Type Average Rating
Upper Sand Creek Lake Trail 598.932 7 out and back 4.5
Medano Lake Trail 697.992 3 out and back 4
Montville Nature Trail 26.8224 1 loop 4
Dunes Overlook Sand Ramp Trail 80.772 3 out and back 3.5
Little Medano Creek Trail to Medano Lake 1079.9064 3 out and back 4
Wellington Ditch Trail 47.8536 1 out and back 4
Dunes Overlook Trail 143.8656 3 out and back 4
Pinion Flats Campground Trail 26.8224 1 loop 4
High Dune Trail 191.7192 5 out and back 5
High and Star Dune Loop 403.86 3 loop 4.5

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 Wrangell – St Elias National Park & Preserve

Wrangell – St Elias National Park is a mecca for wildlife enthusiasts. The park is home to an incredible array of animals, including bears, moose, wolves, and caribou. In addition, the park is also home to a variety of plant life, including tundra plants and towering spruce trees. With so much to see and explore, Wrangell – St Elias National Park is the perfect place to get up close and personal with some of Alaska’s most amazing wildlife.

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.

Wrangell – St Elias National Park & Preserve Weather Considerations

Wrangell – St Elias National Park is one of the largest national parks in the United States, and it is known for its varied and extreme weather conditions. The park experiences very cold winters, with average temperatures ranging from -20 to -10 degrees Fahrenheit. However, the summers are relatively mild, with average temperatures ranging from 60 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit. The best time to visit the park is during the summer months, when the weather is more conducive to outdoor activities such as hiking and camping. However, visitors should be aware that the early summer months can be rainy, so it is best to plan accordingly. The worst time to visit the park is during the winter, when temperatures are at their lowest and conditions are often treacherous. If you do choose to visit during this time, be sure to bring appropriate clothing and gear to ensure your safety.