Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Great Smoky Mountain National Park

This week for Travel Tuesday I would like to take you on an adventure the Great Smoky Mountains.  This is actually the most visited National Park in the country, so there is a good chance many of my outdoor enthusiast followers have already been here.  However, if you haven't I'd like to give you a few reason's to add it to your travel bucket list.



To go into all of the details and things to see and do within the park would take a much longer post than anyone would care to read.  So I am just going to share some highlights.  Note, my pictures were taken during the month of April around opening weekend, so if you go during the summer things will look much more green!



Why is it called Smoky Mountains?  Well if you look at either of the two pictures above they are decent examples.  See the mountains as they go from dark to lighter to lighter as if they are there but disappearing into smoke?  When that is my explanation of Smoky Mountains.
The misty blue haze that is the result from the lush vegetation, rivers and mountain valleys.



Take the Auto Tour, this is a great way to see the National Park.  This alone can take pretty much an entire day.



Waterfalls, they say there is a waterfall in almost each of the rivers and streams within the park.  Lots to see from the road, but even more if you get out and do a little hiking, like the one pictured below.



The park is home to 800 miles in hiking trails, not to mention a good portion of the famous Appalachian Trail.  I haven't hiked the entire 2160 mile trail, but I have had fun hiking much smaller portions of the trail, as it is in some beautiful country.



There are lots of places for camping, fishing.  Those camping in the park who wake up early may have the best opportunity to see great wildlife.



This park is actually home to over 80 historic structures.  They have also the best collection of log buildings in the entire eastern United States.



There are lots of museums to visit and learn more about the park while your there.  Learn about the early inhabitants and the Cherokee that once called these beautiful mountains their home.



You'll want to head to the top of the mountains stop and check the views near Newfound Gap. Which is on the state line between Tennessee and North Carolina.


Or climb to Clingmans Dome and hike up to the top to see some of the most spectacular views which are 360, from this dome that sits at over 6,600 feet.  Which is actually the highest point in Tennessee



It's a 1/2 mile paved walk/hike up to the Watchman Tower.  However, I should mention it's a very steep walk on up.



But on a clear day, very much worth it!





You can also do a little hiking up near the Clingmans Dome area, even part of the Appalachian Trail starts up in this area.  It can be a bit cooler up here, especially in the spring.



IF YOU GO

* The park can get really crowded in the summer and during holidays.  Plan ahead and you may be able to avoid getting stuck in the crowd.  I visited in early spring and never had to deal with stopped traffic and congestion.
*  There are 3 entrances and this is a FREE National Park, YAY!!
* Nearby towns, with lots of tourist fun
* I suggest visiting both the Tennessee and North Carolina sides of the park.
* If you can get out and do some hiking, there are so many things that you can't see from just the road alone.
*  If your going to go fishing of backpacking you'll need to check in at the visitors center.
* Some sections close during the winter, but most of the part is open year round.
* If you are going to take the auto tour, I suggest getting out early, beating the crowd and giving yourself plenty of time to see it all.



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