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Your guide to Townsend
All About Townsend
Nestled in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains, Townsend, Tennessee is synonymous with natural beauty. It’s one of three gateway cities into the mountain range, and with a population of just about 350 people, it’s an ideal destination for those seeking to explore the area from a small-town base.
The area around Townsend is steeped in history, with archaeological finds dating as far back as 2,000 B.C. — the Tuckaleechee caverns here are estimated to be 30 million years old. There are a number of museums dedicated to the preservation and appreciation of Townsend’s past, including the Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center and the Little River Railroad and Lumber Museum, which speaks to the community’s ties to the construction of the railway.
In spite of its tranquil setting, Townsend is by no means a sleepy town; the community offers a packed schedule of festivals and events year-round. Immerse yourself in local lore at the annual Smoky Mountain Bigfoot festival, celebrate autumn’s colors at the Fall Heritage Festival, and add a little whimsy to your holiday during the enchanting Hot Air Balloon Festival.
When is the best time to stay in a vacation rental in Townsend?
Each season in Townsend brings a different reason to spend time outdoors. Visit in the winter and be rewarded with cozy days at your cabin rental in Townsend between taking scenic drives in the snow or fishing in one of many nearby rivers. When things warm up a bit, festivals and seasonal events dot the calendar. May sees the annual Smoky Mountain Bigfoot Festival roll into town. Early summer means the arrival of the annual firefly viewing, where you can witness millions of these glowing bugs light up the night sky as they search for the perfect mate. If you visit towards the end of summer, you can experience the Great Smoky Mountains Hot Air Balloon Festival. In autumn, the leaves turn fiery shades of red and gold, and the Fall Heritage Festival in September celebrates Appalachian cooking alongside bluegrass music, arts, and crafts.
What are the top things to do in Townsend?
Once you’ve explored the unmatched beauty of the Smoky Mountains above, it’s time to take a peek below the surface and marvel at the ancient Tuckaleechee Caverns. Estimated to be between 20 and 30 million years old, these underground chambers are home to 24-foot stalagmites and a breathtaking 210-feet, two-tier waterfall. Access to the caves is only available from March to November, so bear that in mind when planning a trip here.
Cades Cove is one of the star attractions in the Great Smoky Mountains, and you can explore this picturesque valley by taking an 11-mile loop road that snakes through one of the oldest mountain ranges in the United States. This lush landscape is home to all manner of wildlife, including white-tailed deer, black bears, and turkeys, as well as historic cabins and mills and hiking trails.
The enchantingly named Little River runs the length of Townsend and creates the perfect backdrop for a day of outdoor fun. One of the most popular activities in the area is tubing down the river. The slow-moving water creates the perfect atmosphere to unwind and cool down on a hot summer day.