A drive through the eastern national parks needs to include the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. We took two days here, spending three nights in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. Here are photos with little elaboration.
Visitors need to know this is a driving experience. There is hiking, and there is biking, but most everybody is going to need a car. A major entrance is from Gatlinburg. Parkway, a main street, plunges right into the park. There is no entrance fee. Just drive in and get a map from the park ranger at the entrance. There is a visitor’s center just inside the park, but scarce restrooms throughout. This is America’s most visited park, and you’re going to see a stream of tour buses, many carrying tourists from foreign countries. Our national park system is a major tourism draw.
Lots of places to stop and see the view. Barbara points it out.
The roads run through mountain hollows (valleys), often alongside scenic creeks.
There is a place, the highest point in the park, where you can get an enormous view. Parking might be limited. Barbara had to jump out of the car and snap a few shots while I inched the Camry along behind slow-moving traffic.
When the park was established, 100 years ago, it took over a number of farms and rural homesteads. The Park Service has rehabilitated some of these features of 19th century life. Here is a grist mill powered by a water turbine.
Spend two days if you want to see most of everything. Here is a farm, restored for your viewing pleasure.
It’s a nice hike, over a mile, to this waterfall, and uphill all the way. Try to make the trip without pausing to rest.
Lots of places you can get hurt here. This woman poses precariously beside the falls.
Some places there is not much room for error.
There are areas with picnic tables and restrooms. Perfect for lunch and a selfie.
The other mill in the park is powered by a traditional water wheel.
Exiting by way of Pigeon Forge, it was getting on toward dinner time. This barbecue place on the river turned out to be ideal.