We recently took a few much-needed days off to explore The Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Not too many people realize that this park is the most visited national park in the USA. Over 9 million people each year come for some sort of adventure in the pristine mountains of western North Carolina.
The first leg of our journey took us on Hwy. 441 North (AKA Newfound Gap Road). This road biscects the park from north to south and takes you all the way into Gatlinburg, TN (just a little over an hour from our Inn, Brookside Mountain Mist Inn Bed and Breakfast in Waynesville, NC). This road was recently written up in USA Weekend magazine as one of the five best road trips in the US! Boy were they ever right! We pulled off at one of the many overlooks and had a picnic lunch while viewing some of the most gorgeous mountains I have ever seen. See picture above.
The next leg of our trek took us to Clingman's Dome Observation Tower. After a moderate, uphill climb of 1/2 mile, we reached the summit of the observation tower to see even more spectacular views of the Smoky Mountains. Although I have some difficulty with heights, it was well worth the climb to see these spectacular views. It was also a great workout for the calves, hams and gluts!
The next leg of our National Park getaway took us to Cade's Cove. This is a secluded valley in the midst of the Smoky Mountains located just over the Tennessee state line. This nine mile, one-way loop tour takes you into the depths of the forest and through some former farmlands with cabins, schools and churches of yesteryear still intact. Everyone is hoping to get a glimpse of some of the local wildlife as an added bonus. We were fortunate to come across two black bear cubs playing in the tree tops above the road.
The last leg of our journey took us through Gatlinburg, TN and then on to I-40 East, back home to Waynesville, NC. Like the saying goes, "There's no place like home"! The next time one of our guests asks me what there is to do in our area, I'm more likely to say, "What isn't there to do?!!" Come for the scenery, stay for the adventure!
Carolyn Gendreau & Dina Giunta
Brookside Mountain Mist Inn