Great Smokey Mountains
Trip Start Apr 15, 2008
60Trip End Apr 01, 2010
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Sevierville/Pigeon Forge - Home town of Dolly Parton, they even have a highway named after her! This area sits in the shadows of the Smokies. The mountains are so named due to the natural haze which forms over them. This was initially produced by the hydrocarbons given off by the trees and vegetation but unfortunately in later years has become mixed with smog.
The area is very much a vacation area for the domestic American market and resembles a mini Las Vegas. The hotels are not as grand; however it has all the commercialism one can ask for. It even has a permanent Christmas Hotel and Village with a musical model clock and tower delivering classical carols on the half hour! There are themed dinner nights by the handful and as many manmade attractions as one could ever long for
There are some historical areas too, for example the Old Mill area which straddles the east bank of the Little Pigeon River. This has some old stores built from the local timbers along with a working mill which has been grinding flour since the early 1800s. The local store is an Aladdin's cave selling local produce and gifts and is still set out the way it has done for years, with lashings of old world charm and southern hospitality.
The towns have some great eateries, we opted for the classic American Diner, well we couldn't come to the US and not frequent one! This was a classic, with a fully functioning duke box and furnished with the essential stainless steel, red vinyl seats and black and white tiles. The food was good too!
Back to nature - Our route took us right through the centre of the Great Smokey Mountain National Park. This is an absolutely stunning drive, and has some wonderful hiking trails. We chose the 3 mile Laurel Falls trail, a 300m incline, so good exercise to burn a few of those calories! It is important to have the right attire, one needs to cover up as ticks are prevalent in the woods
As we neared the highest point, Clingmans Dome (6643ft) mist and rain set it. We'd come too far not to make the final hike to the top, it was pretty hard going but we made it, unfortunately we couldn't see a darn thing!
On exiting the park we entered the Cherokee Indian Reservation, there are over 11,000 Native Americans living on this 50,000 Square mile reservation. We met our first real Indians, they didn't seem interested in scalping me! My hair must be the wrong colour!