The Great Smoky Mountains was hailed as the most visited park in the U.S. in 2015. Called by the Cherokee shaconage (shah-cone-ah-jey), which roughly means land of the blue smoke, due to the mist hanging over its ancient peaks, this national park accommodates more than 10 million visitors per year. Located along Tennesse-North Carolina border, this 815-square mile park scenic view encompasses the Appachalian Mountains, with about 900 campsites all throughout. Its scope is from the Pigeon River (northeast) to the Little Tennessee River (southwest).
One of the must-see sites in the Great Smoky Mountains is the Cades Cove. Considered a national treasure, this valley awes tourists with its lush fields and breathtaking wildlife. This is a crowd-favorite, especially for families. Aside from its landscape, this place holds a cultural legacy, which still manifests in the architectural backdrop with designs traced back to the early 19th century.
Travelers who want to reach the highest point in the Smokies can find it on Clingsman Dome. Getting there involves a 0.5-mile hike or a seven-mile road off Newfound Gap Road. Traveling through the Newfound Gap Road is also an experience travelers shouldn’t miss. The road is a 32-mile stretch, which provides visitors a number of picturesque views, and venues for picnics, and visitor centers.
Another famous activity in the Smokies is trekking, particularly at Mt. LeConte. This area also has a non-camping accommodation, the LeConte Lodge, but going there also requires hiking trails of 5.5 miles (Alum Cave Trail) to 8 miles (Boulevard).
Other activities and areas in the Great Smoky that are worth visiting include:
– Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trails – a six-mile-long trail that goes through various forests, overlooking streams and waterfalls.
– Laurel Falls – considered one of the most famous attractions in the park, this is an 80-foot-high falls, which can be reached through a 2.6-mile hiking trail (roundtrip).
With its impressive mountain range, and mesmerizing scenery all over, the Great Smoky Mountains should definitely be in every traveler’s bucket list.
I, Keith W. Springer, love my quick strolls to New York’s National parks. Once in a while, I travel outside the Big Apple to go on an adventure in other places, including the Great Smoky Mountains. If you’re interested in these kinds of activities, and topics, as I write about them, follow my blog.