Great Smoky Mountains

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Great Smoky MountainsCelebrating its 75th anniversary, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a wonder to behold. Much of the park is only accessible by hiking trails but it remains one of the most visited parks in the country.

The Mountain Farm Museum next to the Oconoluftee Visitors Center is a great place to explore original structures that once dotted the area before it was a park. You can stroll through the cabins and barns and see what life was like over 100 years ago. At the east entrance to the park, just outside Cherokee, is the start of the Blue Ridge Parkway [MAP]. Take a drive down this snaking road, and take your time because the long range views are out of this world. Its not a road to take if you are in a hurry, and you’ll have to decide how far to go beacuse it does not end until you get to Virginia.

Cades Cove on the Tennessee side of the park also boasts a wonderful collection of old buildings that are well maintained. Of particular interest is its cantilever barns. Few of these structures remain in the mountains, but after careful examination you’ll discover the inventiveness of the builders. The auto tour is very popular and will take several hours depending on the time of the year.

As you cross the park on highway 441, the apex of the park is right on the state line. A short detour to Clingman’s Dome will place you on top of the one of the highest points east of the Mississippi. On a clear day the views from the tower are incredible. For the modest hiker the Appalachian trail also crosses here, and a short walk will put you worlds away from the summer crowds.

Maps of the park:
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Great Smoky Mountains National Park – East
Great Smoky Mountains National Park – Trails
Great Smoky Mountains National Park – Northeast Trails
Great Smoky Mountains National Park – Central/South Trails
Great Smoky Mountains National Park – Area Map