If you’re looking for a place to enjoy the great out of doors with your pet, look no further than the Smoky Mountains. We’ve got lots of pet-friendly lodgings in North Carolina and Tennessee for you to choose from, whether you’re looking for a hotel, inn, bed and breakfast, cottage, or cabin.

The bad news is that, if you’re looking to hike with your pup, for all intents and purposes, you can’t do it in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The only trails you are permitted to take your pet on (on a 6-foot leash) are the Oconaluftee River Trail located on the outskirts of Cherokee in North Carolina and the Gatlinburg Trail in Tennessee. Otherwise, your pet is confined to the park’s campgrounds and picnic and parking areas.

The good news is that your pet is very welcome in three national forests. In North Carolina, Pisgah National Forest flanks the Smokies to the east and Nantahala National Forest to the south. Together, they encompass more than a million acres of wilderness forest, lakes and ponds, whitewater rivers, trout streams, gorges, and mountain landscape, ranging from an elevation of 1,200 feet to more than 5,800 feet above sea level. Both forests offer plenty of opportunities for day hiking and backpacking along hundreds of miles of trails, as well as fishing, camping, boating, and biking. Your pet is welcome to explore the forests with you, on a 6-foot leash, except where posted.

Cherokee National Forest, with more than 650,000 acres, borders the Smokies to the north and south in Tennessee. It is a wilderness wonderland of lakes, trout streams, rivers, waterfalls, gorges, ponds, forests, meadows, and rugged mountainsides, and is crisscrossed by more than 600 miles of hiking trails, including 150 miles of the Appalachian Trail and the 21-mile-long John Muir National Recreation Trail. You and your pet (on a 6-foot leash) are welcome anywhere in the park except where posted.

If you and your pooch are in the mood for exploring a more domesticated landscape, visit the grounds of George Vanderbilt’s 1895 fifty-room chateau, the Biltmore in Asheville, North Carolina. You can stroll with your pet on leash through its many gardens, designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, including the Italian Garden and the All America Rose Garden, with more than 250 varieties of roses.

When you’ve had enough of Mother Nature, be sure to check out a (wo)manmade wonder, Dollywood in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. Your pet can’t explore the park with you but will get to experience the next best thing, Doggywood, Dolly’s onsite kennel (dogs only, and no overnight boarding). If you’re planning on visiting, be sure to call ahead for a reservation.

If you and your pet are night owls and in the area over the Independence Day weekend, get over to Gatlinburg, Tennessee, to kick off the holiday with their 4th of July Midnight Parade, which attracts more than 100,000 people each year.

Finally, if you and your pet are looking to celebrate New Year’s in a way neither one of you will ever be able to forget, hie thee to Clay’s Corner in Brasstown, North Carolina, for the annual New Year’s Eve Lowering of the Opossum. In addition to the descending of the marsupial (which, event organizers hasten to assure, is handled with the greatest of care), there is the crowning of the Possum Queen, though, from what we can determine, the last several have been gentlemen dressed in drag. Definitely sounds like a petswelcome kind of event!

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