What does your ideal getaway in the Smokies look like? Lounging in a summer chair on the front porch of your rental cabin, taking in the fresh mountain air, hiking to a nearby waterfall, roasting marshmallows under the star-studded sky, or maybe hitting the town and taking in some live music.
While all that is a definite ‘mountain trip’ in our book, we also think certain items can make or break your time in the Smokies. So, before you load up the car and start driving to your cabin in the mountains, make sure you’ve got these things packed!
Camera for the Magnificent Views
The Smoky Mountains are absolutely breathtaking. When the sky-reaching trees kiss the fluffy clouds, or the sun sneaks through the leaves and casts a golden glow on everything, you’ll want to capture all the memories (and vistas). Even if you’re not a professional photographer, there are some tremendous point-and-shoot options these days that will do the trick.
If you plan on using your phone (why not if it’s an iPhone X with that fancy new camera, right?), we recommend downloading a photo-editing app like Snapseed or VSCO. And the tripod! YES! Not everywhere you’ll find a friendly fellow tourist to snap your picture for you, so a tripod will become your new best friend.
Binoculars for Wildlife Viewing
Do you know you could be lucky enough to spot bears from the premises of your rental cabin? No joke!
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is home to black bears, coyotes, elk, deer, groundhogs, and more. So while looking for cabins for rent in Pigeon Forge, add the filter ‘close to wildlife,’ and you’ll be all set!
But, even if your rental property is not in the woods, that doesn’t mean you won’t see any animals on your trip. Keep an eye out for birds, squirrels, snakes, and lizards sunbathing on the rocks.
Scan the area with your binoculars (or even regular old glasses), and you will indeed find some movement.
Bear Spray for Hiking
We all have a curious side, and when you see a sign on the trail that reads “Beware of Bears,” it’s hard not to think about what you would do if you ran into one of these furry creatures.
Therefore, if you plan to go on hikes in the park, please do not forget to pack bear spray.
Bears are more active in the spring and summer, but that doesn’t mean you won’t come across one at any time.
Bear spray is a can of pepper spray that will stop a bear in its tracks, giving you time to get away. Before your trip, you can purchase bear spray at any outfitter in the Smokies or even online.
Comfortable Clothing & Shoes
No brainer, right? Well, most travelers forget that the Smokies are a mountain range, which means there will be ups and downs (literally).
You’ll want to ensure you have comfortable shoes for all the hiking you’ll be doing. Your regular sneakers won’t cut it on some of the more advanced trails. Neither should you settle with one pair alone! Keep at least two pairs in your cabin, so you can alternate and let one pair dry while you wear the other.
The same goes for clothing. Opt for the ones that can layer. Don’t carry just one heavy jacket – carry a light sweater or long-sleeved shirt that can go under a coat if necessary.
Even in summertime, evenings can be chilly, so always be prepared!
Sunscreen and Insect Repellant to Stay Safe
Do you want the merciless mosquitoes to have a field day with you? For the wasps to build their nests in your hair?
We didn’t think so.
The Smokies are teeming with insects, from mosquitoes and ticks to bees and wasps.
Make sure you pack some strong insect repellant, as well as sunscreen. The higher elevation means the sun’s rays are more intense, so you’ll want to ensure you’re protected. You’ll want to apply sunscreen daily, even if it’s cloudy.
If you’re looking for some specific brands, we recommend Sawyer Products for insect repellant and Coppertone for sunscreen. If you have kids, you’ll need to make sure their sunscreen is child-friendly and doesn’t have any harmful chemicals.
Pack them in a Ziploc bag to avoid leakage, and you’ll be all set!
Backpack for Easy Carrying
You don’t plan on lugging around a giant suitcase on your nature walks, do you? Have some mercy on your arms and back, and pack light!
A daypack is a must when you’re exploring the Smokies since you’ll want to keep your hands free to take pictures and hold onto the handrail on steep sections of the trail.
And, you’ll want to be able to pack all the essentials: water, snacks, a map, your bear spray (of course), and anything else you might need for a day of hiking.
There are so many different backpacks on the market, so it’s a matter of personal preference. Make sure it’s comfortable and has enough compartments to keep everything organized.
A Cooler for Those Picnics
We know you booked a rental cabin, and there are amenities like a fully-equipped kitchen.
But sometimes, you just want to relish a nice picnic lunch in the great outdoors!
And especially when you’re in The Smokies. They are the perfect place for a picnic lunch. With all the scenic overlooks, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better spot to enjoy a sandwich and some fruit.
But you need to have a cooler to keep your food fresh. No one wants to eat a wilted salad or a lukewarm soda. Yikes!
A small, portable cooler is easy to carry and will fit everything you need for a picnic lunch. Make sure you pack some ice packs to keep things nice and cool. You can also get creative and pack a lunch that doesn’t need to be refrigerated, like trail mix or PB&J.
The world is big, and there’s so much to see. But sometimes, the best vacations are those closer to home. Hey, but that doesn’t mean you skip out on the packing list!
When the excitement kicks in, it’s justifiable to miss out on a few items. So, you must ALWAYS make a list and check it at least twice before leaving for your trip.
Our packing list only scratches the surface of what you could possibly need for your Smoky Mountain cabin getaway. Customize yours according to the season you’re visiting and your planned activities.