5 Easy Ways to Play in the Water in the Smokies

Every summer includes water play of all sorts, depending on your preferences for getting wet. Though not located on the ocean, there are still plenty of opportunities to make a splash just a short distance from your Wears Valley rental cabin. Consider these alternatives:

1. Pool privileges. Volunteer Cabin Rentals offers multiple cabins with local pool privileges. Never overcrowded, but with a few playmates for the kids, it’s an easy early-morning  swim, or even a lazy, all day splash and relax!
2. Waterfall Hike*. Should you prefer to get out into some nature with a little cardio exercise included, how about a waterfall hike? Here are a couple to consider:
For the entire family to enjoy, Cataract Falls is just a short stroll from the Sugarlands Visitor Center in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The trailhead starts directly behind the center, and is only .1 of a mile to a sweet photo opportunity.
Grotto Falls is located midway around the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail. The trailhead starts at the parking lot, and winds for an easy 1.2 miles one way. We truly think this one is much fun! The payoff for the hike is that you can actually walk behind the falls, if you don’t mind getting a little wet. Based on yearly rainfall, this spot also has a pool at the bottom for swimming in a really attractive setting. Refreshing for both mind and body!
3. River Wading and Swimming*. For wading, Metcalf Bottoms Picnic Area is hard to beat, and is a just short drive from your rental cabin in Pigeon Forge. Many picnic sites are directly on the river: super for wading, exploring, and a little swimming. I strongly suggest water shoes for the rocky bottom and a length of rope for any floats because of the current.
Also close to the VCR office, the Townsend Y (or wye) is a large, natural swimming hole favorite of many in the area. Very easy to reach, it is located shortly past the Townsend entrance to the National Park, right before where the road splits to reach Cades Cove and Gatlinburg. Parking is available both in an adjacent parking lot, and also roadside. It is a junction of two rivers, and a popular location, so don’t expect privacy. There are places to sit: rocks, a beach area, and grassy area too. For older kids and adults, it’s a clear winner.
*It is my duty as a local to make sure you understand that many areas in the Smokies are NOT safe for swimming, and extreme danger can occur when proper safety measures are ignored. The National Park Service strongly cautions those who choose to water play in the mountains should understand the risks and adhere to these water safety recommendations:
4. Tubing/Rafting. Want to catch some sun and relax on the water? Try something perhaps new to you: if you have never been tubing, you have been missing great fun! River Rat Tubing Outpost is a short drive from your cabin, and located on the Townsend end of Wears Valley Road on the Little River. The firm has this outdoor experience down to a science. Head down the “Rat Hole Tunnel” to making memories with your family! Tubes are available both with and without bottoms, and tethers can be used to attach a couple of tubes together. Educate yourself on the upper and lower river options (lower is milder) and know what a push-off stick is. Relatively inexpensive for a group, and naturally exciting. Trust us, you will not regret a tubing run. For more information and rates, consult the company link here.
5. Dollywood’s Splash Country. This premiere, award-winning water park is a day’s worth of adventure and a destination unto itself. If you are serious about an entire sun-soaked water day with 35 acres of pools, slides, and water rides, this is the best place to make that happen. Rather than expound on all our favorite moments here, study their link for the details you need.
At the edge, floating on top, or fully submerged, make sure you take advantage of the clear, cool waters of the Smokies while you are here: an easy way to guarantee a great vacation memory for you and your family!