"The Great Smokey Mountains in Eastern Tennessee" Tennessee by Ky_Happy_Dad
Tennessee Travel Guide: 3,515 reviews and 6,944 photos
My wife enjoys hunting for bargains at outlet malls and eating out at restaurants. My boys and I prefer hiking and camping. The Smokey Mountains is a good compromise vacation choice because it has both options, as well as country music shows and Dollywood (a themepark).
When planning your trip to the Smokey Mountain area, you can stay in crowded tourist areas, or you can find peace and quiet in a rented cabin or a bed and breakfast on a mountain top.
If you like crowds and shopping (as my wife does), there are many motels lining the road in Pigeon Forge mixed in with chain resturants, outlet malls, music show theatres etc. Gatlinburg, on the park's North entrance, is older and more compact for walking, but it has more crafts and locally made goods. If you stay in Pigeon Forge you can take a bypass around Gatlinburg to the park and avoid the traffic.
If you enjoy getting away from the crowds (as I do), either stay in the Best Western motel in Townsend, stay in a bed and breakfast or rent a cabin. The ideal choice, for those who enjoy hiking (because that is the only way to get there), is staying in LaConte Lodge,the cabins at the top of Mt. LaConte. These are usually reserved up to a year in advance, but sometimes vacancies occur. If you like camping at campsites, the Cades Cove campground is a good choice because you can go horseback riding, biking, walking, or visiting the old mill and cabin area.
Many of the most well known hiking trails in the park are crowded, yet the park is large enough you can find small trails that are secluded with great scenery. The closer proximity to Gatlinburg, the more likely you'll run into casual park visitors. One popular trail leading to a waterfall is used so much the park service paved it in blacktop. A small book called Great Walks of the Smokey Mountains lists several short scenic walks most families would enjoy even if they are not rugged advanture hikers. Those looking for longer hikes should read Bill Bryson's book about walking the Appalachian Trail. He has a chapter describing his walk through the park. The May/June 2001 issue of National Geographic Traveler provides good tips on planing a trip, or visit the National Geographic Website.
- Pros:Great Scenery and Variety
- Cons:Crowds and tacky tourist items in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge
- In a nutshell:Something for everyone in your family to enjoy
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