Smokey Mountains, North Carolina
The Smoky Mountains are one of, if not the biggest tourist destination in North Carolina. The mountains, while small, are covered in a layer of haze that give them their smoky experience. The national park that bears their name is the most visited park of all. Its a spectacular park filled with hiking trails, wildlife and other interesting sights.
For more information, feel free to visit my Great Smoky Mountains National Park page.
The Smoky Mountains National Park is located along the border of North Carolina and Tennessee. Most of the park is located in Tennesse though.
The park has many visitors, esp. in the weekends. Many people visit this park with their children, like they visited it with their parents many years ago. We didn´t find it that special, but then we didn´t visit with our parents......
If possible you should avoid the busy times.
General entrance fee is free.
There are fees for camping, and some booklets on scenic drives are sold for 1 Dollar at the roadside.
We went to a cabin in the NC mountains one Christmas, and it snowed on Christmas Eve. In the morning the mountains in the distance were covered with frosted trees. When we drove to the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, in addition to snow, there were waterfalls of ice.
The Great Smoky Mountains are one of the most visited of the national parks. There are more than 9 million visitors each year. They are popular partly because they are within a day's drive of a third of the U.S. population and also because it is the largest protected area in the Eastern United States.
The website and phone number below are so that you can check to see what the road and facility closures are for.
The park preserves a ridged territory where the haze can remind layers of smoke, thus giving the park its name. This place is too crowded to be peaceful and its original inhabitants have long lost a peaceful living. It used to be the Cherokee Nation land and for some time the natives got along with the new settlers arrived in 1818. They even created a written form of their incomprehensible language. Then, in the matter of a few years, gold was discovered and the Cherokee were forced to leave for the West in what is sadly remembered as the Trail of Tears. By early 1900 two-thirds of the forest were gone to logging and concerned movements sparked the creation of a protected area. Today, Great Smoky Mountains is the most visited national park in the entire country and, frankly, I don't see why. I've been to nicer and much less crowded parks in the US to convince me that no, this is not my favorite.
The National Park Service manages the Trail of Tears as an historical trail celebrating the "survival of the Cherokee people". To me, it's rather a celebration of human greed and this sounds outrageously disrespectful of those who lost their place and the 4,000 who died during the march.
I used to love to take trips to the Smoky Mountains when i was very young. Even as I got older, i used to drive up and just do nothing but drive along the Blue Ridge Parkway. This is one of THOUSANDS of scenes within the Smoky Mountains. If I were to take all of them, I'd probably crash VT's server!!
This picture was taken from the top of Mount Pisgah, in the Pisgah National Forest.
The Great Smokey Mountain National Park is partly in North Carolina and partly in Tennessee. There is a road from Cherokee , NC to Gatlinburg TN, that goes right across the top of the mountains. It gets very busy during the summer and most of my favorite hiking trails are actually on the Tennessee side of the park. Some of the Appalachian Trail is right on the border of the States, so I am not sure if I should put this tip on the NC page. You can get to it from Clingmans Dome ( highest mountain in TN) parking lot.
On the Carolina side we liked to float down the river at Deep Creek. There are also some small waterfalls and some nice trails in the area. Deep Creek is near Bryson City.
The Smokey Mountains are my favorite place in the southeastern United States to go hiking. I have hiked many trails in this park in both Tennessee and North Carolina. On one occasion I took a train ride on the Smokey Mountain Railroad. It was a nice scenic ride through the fall countryside which was enjoyable. The North Carolina part of the park is near Cherokee. See my Tennessee page for additional information about the park.
A ride on the Blue Ridge Parkway, through the Smokey Mountains has been the most beautiful drive I've taken in this country. The Blue Ridge Parkway runs through the mountains from Georgia to Virginia. The road twists and turns, and the scenic overlooks are so numerous, do not take this route if you are in a hurry. There is a 45 mile and hour speed limit, but we found most times we couln't take it that quickly. You will get behind slow driving lookers, just sit back and enjoy the views. The good thing is that you can jump on or off the road easily anywhere on the route.
We hopped on the drive just outside of Pigeon Forge. We spent two days driving up the route, stopping at various trails for views of rivers, waterfalls, scenic overlooks and caves.
One section is suitably named "Skyline Drive" as it twists through Shenandoah National Park.
I can't even begin to explain how beautiful it is here after a thunderstorm, when the mist rises up out of these mountains, or in the fall, when the leaves turn into their brightest hues... so go see for yourself!!!
A 'must see' area in Western North Carolina would be the Great Smoky Mountains. There are tons of wonderful summer sporting activities in the area, some of them include White Water Rafting, Rock and Mountain Climbing, and hiking. In the winter the area has a host of pleasant ski resorts. My personal favorite is Sugar Mountain located near a town called Boone, NC. If you're in the Eastern side of the state, head over to the outer banks for a nice swim on very nice beaches.