Date Explored: July 29, 2013
Written by: Shawn Dunnaway
Elevation: Around 2800'
Weather: Partly Sunny, 70°
GPS: 35.636747, -83.492779
Perhaps one of the most popular places to pack a lunch and relax in the Smokies is the Chimneys Picnic Area, located just 7 miles from the heart of Gatlinburg on US 441.
When I was a kid we would head over to Chimneys just about every time we visited the Smoky Mountains. And now that I have kids of my own, it is a destination that remains on our to-do list each time we visit the park.
There are about 68 picnic sites at Chimneys with a lot of them overlooking the boulder-filled West Prong Little Pigeon River. The river is especially scenic due to the large rocks that scatter the area. There are several rocks the size of cars.
Some folks will even venture out into the shallow river and hop around on the boulders. But you got to be careful doing this; they can be slippery especially with wet rocks or moss covered rocks. A couple of times I've learned the hard way you can't step on any leaves, either. If you decide to walk around the rocks make sure you watch your footing.
Each picnic table has a nearby parking space or two which makes it very convenient when packing and unpacking your car. There are also charcoal grills by most of the tables for grilling up some hamburgers, hot dogs or even some steaks. And there are several restroom facilities on site.
Even if you do not decide to pack a meal, you still can enjoy the cool surroundings of the Chimneys Picnic Area. The air is always cooler there and there seems to be a sense of dampness with the nearby river. It kind of reminds me of being in a rocky rainforest setting, but without the oppressive humidity.
So head on out to Chimneys Picnic Area and explore!