Bear. Elk. Deer.
Wild Men and Bigfoot.
People come to the Smokies for a lot of reasons, but one of the chief among them is to see wildlife.
What if I told you that many of you are missing one of the coolest animal interactions in the mountains?
That’s right. Smoky Mountain llama rentals.
Are there llama rentals in the Smoky Mountains?
Now before you get too excited, llama rentals is a loose term. There is no one in the Smoky Mountains who is just going to hand you the reins of your very own llama to walk the strip in Gatlinburg. Selfies with you and your newly rented llama at the giant Ferris wheel are out.
You can, however, book a llama to be a ring bearer at your wedding, to visit your child’s birthday party or to surprise a loved one with a special delivery on a special occasion.
Those are the outliers, however. The more frequent llama interaction is a scenic mountain hike with a llama, or multiple llamas, and a guide.
Llama treks in the Smoky Mountains
If the idea of hiking the Smokies with a llama carrying your pack is appealing then you have two main options:
Both offer a similar concept, hiking pre-planned trails with fluffy, friendly llamas serving as pack animals.
At Smoky Mountain Llama Treks, owned by a pair of transplanted Michiganders who became enamored with the idea of a life in the mountains and hiking, there are three basic options at various price ranges.
Types of ‘llama rentals’ in the Smoky Mountains
The first option Smoky Mountain Llama Treks offers is essentially the petting zoo level. You can pet and feed the llamas, learn more about them and see where they live. There are 11 llamas and three alpacas on the property as well as five friendly dogs.
For the second option, you can visit the farm and take the llamas on a wooded trail located at the farm. There are short and extended options for this level.
The last level is the hiking level, where you trek the Foxfire Mountain Trail, which used to be known as Creek Hollow Trail. For this adventure, your guide will meet you at the trailhead and you’ll hike through the woods, over streams and across a gorge on a swinging suspension bridge. The llamas are cool with this.
For this level, at the time of this writing, the cost is $80 per person. The two-hour hike is at a moderate level of trail difficulty.
For Smoky Mountain Llama Treks, children under the age of 12 must be accompanied by an adult. In an important policy difference, Smoky Mountain Llama Treks does allow parents to bring their babies and carry them in a baby backpack.
It’s important to note that llamas are pack animals but not suited for being ridden. No one will be allowed to ride a llama on the trek; it could do the animal serious harm.
Be sure to check Groupon if you plan to book Smoky Mountain Llama Treks.
There’s also llama wine and cheese parties (yes, really)
Things at the Wandering Llama, located in Greene County, are a little more creative. In addition to trail hikes into the Cherokee National Forest starting in Greeneville, Mosheim, Del Rio and Chuckey, the Wandering Llama offers a variety of onsite experiences that include:
- Treehouse glamping
- Llama yoga hikes
- Llama wine and cheese parties
- Beef, beer, llama n’ lager events
Just for clarity’s sake, you eat the cheese and drink the wine. The llamas like graham crackers and bananas.
Live music and sunset llama trek specials are also available.
Prices for these events are per person and vary. For more, go to thewanderingllamas.com.
Perhaps most exciting is the rent-a-llama event. For $400, two llamas and a handler will spend two hours at your special event within 30 miles. After that, the fee increases based on distance. Maximum distance is 90 miles, one way.
If you’re going to have a llama ring bearer, I might recommend one of the Lord of the Rings llamas, like Rivendell or Lord Aragon.
Are the llamas friendly? Do they spit?
Both places tout their exceptionally friendly llamas that do not spit. The llamas enjoy being petted and some enjoy being hugged. Like people, they do have personalities and boundaries.
In fact, Smoky Mountain Llama Treks says some of its llamas even enjoy kisses, but let me just say, do not go to the mountains and start kissing strange llamas. We live in a society, for goodness sakes.
The Wandering Llama does have rules governing young children on its hikes.
“Sorry, no children under five, no exceptions. No babies in backpack carriers. We cover a lot of ground in a short time, please make sure that your younger children are able to hike up to three miles and that they will not be afraid to walk in the creek waters (ankle to knee high). No children under five allowed at the FoxDen Treehouse,” reads the Wandering Llama website.
Both companies have restrictive policies about dogs on their hikes. Be sure to consult them before bringing your four-legged friends.
Smoky Mountain Llama Treks groupons
Check Groupon for coupons if you plan on doing a llama trek in the Smokies. Farm visits for two, four, or up to ten people are available for steep discounts, if you book when they are available.
Have you ever tried a llama rental in the Smoky Mountains? Let us know in the comments.