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Great Smoky Mountains
Mountain Scene with Foreground Trees
Great Smoky Mountains
A visit to the Smoky Mountains will be rewarding with splendid scenery. Here you will be able to view mountains, wildlife, and rushing waters, all from within your vehicle.
The Smoky Mountains offer an excellent vacation spot with family activities available.
Intro Image: Black Spaniel Gallery has taken, and fully owns, this image. We have the right to use it. No link can be provided. All other images not linked are also our images.
Intro Image: Black Spaniel Gallery has taken, and fully owns, this image. We have the right to use it. No link can be provided.
The Great Smoky Mountains
Visiting the Great Smoky Mountains offers panoramic vistas, glimpses of wildlife, and fantastic memories.
The main road goes from Gatlinburg, Tennessee, to Cherokee, North Carolina. It has always been, when we traveled it, in good condition. Be prepared to move slowly, simply because passing opportunities are not easily found. The road goes up to the state line, then descends on the other side. Along the road are many places with fantastic views. These usually have parking lots, so there is no reason for anyone stopping in traffic. They offer a photographer's wonderland.
In addition to views of distant mountainsides, swift moving water in small streams frequently parallel the road. Here rocks are exposed, giving a unique visual experience.
It would be almost impossible to get lost if the trip is taken in a vehicle. Yes, hiking can be an activity, but stay on the trails. In fact, if you wish to visit one of the waterfalls hiking is a necessity. In a vehicle, there are few turns possible. You can go straight through the park, take the one side road to Clingman's Dome, or take the route from the visitor station on the Tennessee side through Cade's Cove, which is a road that comes back out to itself.
For scenery go to Clingman's Dome or take the road to the state line. For wildlife and rustic buildings go through Cade's Cove. But go to Cade's Cove only if you have time to follow slow moving traffic through a narrow, winding road. Passing is generally impossible.
A separate part of the park, Roaring Forks, is a narrow, steep one way road. Once started, you are committed to finishing the trip. Here you will see rushing water, but the more tranquil trip through the park is a much easier drive. Roaring Forks may require cooling the brakes several times.
Great Smoky Mountains Kids Activities
This is from the grounds of the Apple Barn, a real nice restaurant, gift shop, and more. There is an orchard one can view.
Dollywood is a theme park, with the usual rides. But it also has mountain crafts being made while you watch. It can be a subtle learning experience for children, who are enjoying themselves so much they do not realize they are learning.
Of course Dollywood also houses music venues, and you might catch some nice performances.
Dolly Splash is the water park associated, but separate from, Dollywood. If you plan to also attend Dolly Splash you might take this into account when purchasing your tickets.
SCENERYClick thumbnail to view full-size
There are many places to stay in the area, but the crowd centers in a small stretch in Gatlinburg. The strip starts near the world class aquarium, and ends near the park entrance. While there is trolley service, staying right on or near the strip is best.
Rustic BuildingsClick thumbnail to view full-size
There is a world class aquarium in Gatlinburg, about halfway through the town. A moving sidewalk takes you through a transparent tunnel, where you can get some unique views of the fish. Photography is difficult, since the tunnel reflects light and you may see your own image in your pictures. Lighting is too low for not using the flash unless your camera is set for low lighting. Another problem is you are, although slowly, moving.
There are many family friendly forms of entertainment in Gatlinburg. These include museums, miniature golf, and arcades. There is also a space needle from which the views are great.
In Pigeon Forge you can also find some entertainment, but walking is not as common. Here you may be able to wash dirt in the quest for precious stones, and find them. I believe they are not of great quality considering the cost of a bucket of dirt, but they can be cut and set into jewelry.
On the Cherokee side of the mountain is an Indian reservation. Here is a casino, and many additional entertaining venues. Since we never stayed on the Cherokee side, we know much less about it.
Rushing WaterClick thumbnail to view full-size
There is a loop just outside Gatlinburg that will bring you past artists and craft makers. These shops have unique items made by the artists and artisans whose shops you can visit.