The Great Smoky Mountains National Park

A quick look is all it takes to see what this National Park has to offer.

View of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee. Photo by Donald Fink.

There are places we enjoy visiting over and over, and one of those places is the great Smoky Mountain National Park in Tennessee. It’s located near the towns of Gatlinburg , Pigeon Forge  (home of Dollywood), and the often overlooked Sevierville, Tn. We’ve enjoyed the Smoky Mountains from a 5th wheel trailer, staying in downtown Pigeon Forge. We’ve traipsed back to Cade’s Cove and stayed in our tent, and we’ve stayed in hotels nearby with and without our Harley.

No matter how we’ve been there, it’s always been a good trip.

Our favorite time of year has got to be fall. That’s tricky too, because the whole reason for visiting at fall is to see the colors. The Smoky Mountains is rich in hardwoods of all kinds, and the fall season brings fabulous colors to the mountains with the changing leaves.

There are several areas of the Smokey Mountains to enjoy too. We like the road that wanders back to Cades Cove because of the abundance of wildlife. We usually join the road back to Cade’s Cove by taking Little River Gorge Road that turns off Highway 441 at the Sugarland Visitor’s center. It’s about 30 miles back to Cade’s Cove, and takes awhile. Be careful and judge the traffic. If you’re visiting on a holiday weekend, especially in the summer, you can find some pretty ugly traffic jams back there, with no way out.

We’ve read that there’s a bear for every square mile of land in the area of Cades Cove, and we believe it. The bears are very, very small black bears, but they’re still fun to observe. There’s also turkeys, deer, and all the other woodland creatures you might expect to find in the forest in the south, and once you get back to Cade’s Cove, there’s livestock in the form of a large herd of horses mixed in with the wildlife.

Another area we enjoy is accessed through Gatlinburg. It’s called Roaring Fork Road. This roughly nine mile one-way drive is a day use area that’s fun for driving through and visiting old homesteads, taking in the beauty of the small rivers, or day hiking one of the several trails in the area.

Besides taking photographs and riding our Harley, day hiking has been our favorite activity in the park. There are dozens of trails with all sorts of difficulty levels. There’s a little something for just about every interest and ability when it comes to day hiking this great park. The only tip is, arrive early at many of the trail heads if you don’t want to significantly add to your hike.

You can start your journey to the Great Smokey Mountains National Park by visiting the park’s web site here.

Here’s a small gallery of some of the images we’ve captured over the years. Every visit is new, and even though we’ve been there over and over, we never get tired of trying to get a better picture than we did the time before.

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