Buckle up because there’s nothing but excitement and good times ahead. Our list of ‘Smoky Mountain Things to do for Sports Enthusiasts’ will knock your socks off, get your heart pumping and create the perfect environment for making wonderful memories. Whether you prefer the thrills of helicopter rides over craggy mountain peaks and magnificent valleys or hiking up a challenging mountain trail, you’ll find it all in the Great Smoky Mountains. Whitewater rafting and river tubing are two of the most popular outdoor activities during the warm season. Snow skiing and snow tubing are two of the most popular winter activities.

Discover the Most Exhilarating ‘Smoky Mountain Things to Do’ for Sports Enthusiasts

There is an outdoor adventure for everyone and for all ages to enjoy in the Great Smoky Mountains. Our list of Smoky Mountain things to do focuses on the sports enthusiast. For more information on all-around activities, see our list of “Top 20 Things to Do in Western NC.”

  • Airplane Rides – Take an exciting airplane ride over the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountain Parkway. Located in Sevierville, Tennessee (just a day trip from Maggie Valley, NC), Sky High Tours offers airplane rides in a 1920s-era plane over the Great Smoky Mountains. Call 865.742.2359 for more information.
  • Balloon Rides – Tennessee Balloon Rides in Sevierville will take you and your guests up in a hot air balloon for an experience you won’t soon forget. Soar like a bird over the most beautiful terrain you could ever imagine.
  • Helicopter Rides –Several companies offer helicopter rides over the Great Smoky Mountains. Two are located in nearby Sevierville, TN – Scenic Helicopter Tours and Sevier County Choppers.
  • Jet Skiing – Can you go jet skiing in the Great Smokies? Sure, you can! One of the most popular locations for jet skiing is on Douglas Lake in nearby Dandridge, TN. It’s just a short drive up the parkway from Maggie Valley and Asheville. You can rent wave runners and pontoons at Smoky Mountain H20 Sports. Call 423.608.0726 for more information or to make a reservation.
  • Motorcycle Rides – The Great Smokies are renowned for motorcycle rides, routes and loops. Perhaps the most famous route is the Tail of the Dragon at Deals Gap. It offers 318 curves in 11 miles for the motorcycle thrill seeker. Cherohala Skyway is a close second in popularity and is often combined with the Dragon. The Crossroads of Time is a popular gathering spot for bikers along this scenic route. Learn more about scenic road trips near Maggie Valley.
  • Mountain Hiking – Grandfather Mountain’s Profile Trail is one of the most difficult / challenging trails in the North Carolina mountains. It covers seven miles with a steep climb and moderately rough terrain. At the trail’s end, Calloway Peak is 5,964 feet in elevation, making it the highest mountain in the Blue Ridge chain. Learn about other mountain hiking trails.
  • Mountain Biking – The Tsali Recreation Area Trail System in Bryson City is ranked as one of the “Top 10 Riding Destinations in the United States”. It covers 42 miles and offers multi-use trails. Mountain bikers and horseback riders will be separated by alternating use of trails. Other favored spots are Fire Mountain Trail in Cherokee, Oconaluftee River Trail (Great Smoky Mountains National Park/Cherokee), Deep Creek and Indian Trail, which are in the Bryson City area.
  • Paragliding – Cross paragliding in the Smoky Mountains off your bucket list! Smoky Mountain Paramotor is located in Maryville, TN, in the foothills of the Smokies. They offer ground school training and equipment to help you sail into the wild blue yonder.
  • River Tubing – Cherokee Rapids is one of the most popular tubing outfitters and is located on the Oconaluftee River in Cherokee, NC.
  • Snowboarding – Western North Carolina provides several great locations for snowboarding enthusiasts. Cataloochee Ski Area offers snowboarding in Maggie Valley, NC. Sugar Mountain Resort in Banner Elk welcomes you to ski, snowboard and snowshoe on 115 acres. Beach Mountain Resort in Banner Elk also offers skiing, snow tubing and snowboarding. Additionally, Beach Mountain has a 7,000-square-foot ice rink for ice skating.
  • Skiing – Cataloochee Ski Area in Maggie Valley is the most popular ski resort in the western North Carolina area. They always have snow during their open season because they have a snow-making machine when the weather doesn’t cooperate. It has 14 lighted slopes and five lifts. The ski area offers something for children and adults alike to enjoy, including skiing, Snow Sports School, ski gear rentals and more. Ober Gatlinburg Ski Resort is another great skiing location not too far from Maggie Valley. Sugar Mountain Resort and Beach Mountain Resort – both located in Banner Elk, NC – offer great slopes for snow skiing as well.
  • Slingshot Cruises – Slinging in the Smokies offers rentals of Polaris Slingshots. Rates at the time of this writing are $75/hour or $350/day. Go for an exciting cruise on the Blue Ridge Parkway in a Polaris Slingshot!
  • Snow Tubing – Tony’s Tube World in Maggie Valley is the most popular snow tubing location in the area. It’s owned by the same people who operate the Cataloochee Ski Area but is located just a short drive away from the ski resort.
  • Whitewater Rafting – The Maggie Valley and Haywood County area of the Great Smoky Mountains offer a few opportunities for whitewater rafting nearby, including Pigeon River, Nantahala, Tucaseegee and more. The most challenging rapids are found on the Cheoah River in western North Carolina. Learn more about whitewater rafting in the Smokies.

Cap Off Your ‘Smoky Mountain Things to Do’ List with Great Accommodations

After you’ve enjoyed all the exhilarating Smoky Mountain things to do for the sports enthusiast, take a well-needed rest at the iconic Meadowlark Motel on Soco Road in Maggie Valley. Enjoy an array of accommodations, from guest rooms to a cottage or a cabin. Just a short walk from nearby restaurants and the festival grounds, Meadowlark Motel features a complimentary continental breakfast and complimentary Wi-Fi during your stay. Ask about their in-room massage packages. Take advantage of the outdoor seasonal pool, the outdoor pavilion and a Creekside setting, perfect for fishing and picnics. There’s also a seasonal community garden on-site where you can learn about the herbs and vegetables of the region. Book your stay today.


Photo by Cynthia Andres on Unsplash