Townsend has been known as the peaceful side of the Smokies for many years, a reputation well earned, but this does not mean there is nothing to see or do in Townsend.
Here are just a few things you can enjoy within easy driving distance to Townsend.
Cades Cove is a valley offering a multitude of natural attractions for visitors coming through Townsend. Wildlife such as white-tailed deer, bears, coyotes, groundhogs, turkeys, raccoons, skunks, and just about every other type of animal you can find in the mountains. You can hike, bike, go horseback riding, go fishing, go on a nature shoot (photos of course), and even go camping in the backcountry. You can tour Cades Cove by foot, bike, or motor vehicle and numerous hiking trails start in Cades Cove – like Abrams Falls, Thunderhead Mountain, Rocky Top (as in the Rocky Top that made the song), and the Cades Cove Nature Trail. There are many historic sites like the John Oliver Cabin, the Primitive Baptist Church, and the Becky Cable House. Cades Cove is history, nature, and potentially raw excitement and fun on one spot.
One of the most popular recreational riverbeds in East Tennessee, the Townsend Wye is a tradition for thousands of locals and visitors every year. The Wye is just a single river cutting through the National Park running alongside the main road of Townsend, but it’s just wide enough without needing to be too wide, and shallow enough for people to enjoy swimming, fishing, tubing, what have you! There are also plenty of good spots to enjoy a simple picnic or family get-together as well. Parking is free, but you need to expect parking spaces will fill up quickly during the Summer and most vacation periods outside of Winter. Shuttles may also be available for transport. Also, as the river has no lifeguard or safety regulation in place, exercise good judgment at all times.
Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center
Probably the finest museum capturing all the nature, beauty and spirit of Southern Appalachia you will ever see, the Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center is a nonprofit organization dedicating to preserving the history and culture of the Tennessee man from Native American to European Pioneer and on. The Heritage Center provides scout programs, field trip opportunities, facility rentals, and special events like the Fiber Arts Festival, Music of the Mountains, Spring Concert Series and more. See more information. http://www.gsmheritagecenter.org
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Hosting over 9 million visitors annually, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is America’s most visited national park. It is a landscape that combines natural and cultural history beautifully. History unfolds before the eyes, emerging from lush forests and rich lowland valleys. Over 1,500 flowering shrubs and plants, 124 species of trees, 60 species of mammals, 200 species of birds, nearly 70 kinds of fish and 80 varieties of reptiles and amphibians all call the Smokies home. You can hike, fish, bike and even camp in certain parts of the park. For more information, visit www.nps.gov/grsm.
Just a short distance away from Townsend is the city of Maryville. Think of it as a funky, smaller version of Knoxville and you have a starting idea of what to see and do in Maryville. There are plenty of your favorite shops and many other chains you likely don’t get regular access to. Restaurants a-plenty as well as the Foothills Mall where they have something for everyone – including movies. See more information on Maryville at http://www.maryvillegov.com/