Great Smokey Mountains

Trip Start Apr 15, 2008
Trip End Apr 01, 2010

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Flag of United States  , Tennessee
Friday, July 11, 2008

The Great Smokey Mountains

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. It is a big contrast to the natural beauty just a few miles down the road, but still fun in its own way.

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. The ticks spread Lyme disease which is not something you want to contract. The rangers at the visitor centre also made us aware of the nasty poison ivy too, one touch can give very unpleasant affects. The mountains are also home to the native Black Bear. These are not as big as the Grizzly or Brown Bear, but they can still grow up to 6ft tall so you really don't want to upset one! Fortunately or not, we were spared any confrontation; I would have like to have seen them from a distance though! I did realise half way along the trail that I had a couple of bananas in the pack, whoops! I had decided if confronted I would give the bananas up gracefully! Julie seemed to be in a hurry to distance herself from me, I tell you in sickness and in health went straight out the window!
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!
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Smoky Mountains National Park on

My family and I recently took a vacation to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The park is located between Tennessee and North Carolina. It is definitely a must see. On our vacation with my kids, we enjoyed going to Grotto Falls, Cling-man's Dome, a Jr Rangers Program, Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail, and Newfound Gap Rd. We also hiked for a few feet on the Appalachian Trail at it's highest point at Cling-man's Dome. We seen 2 bears on two different days on the trail. This is a treat for anyone visiting the area.

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