"Smokey Mountain National Park" Gatlinburg by mikehanneman

Gatlinburg Travel Guide: 397 reviews and 690 photos

Smokey Mountain National Park "Land of blue smoke"

First of all I have to say if you are driving through Gatlinburg to get to Smokey Mountain National Park be ready for a "cluster". I have never seen such a traffic jam that goes on for miles with plenty of stop lights. Dollywood and it is a big tourist trap. Although there are some shops that are worth stopping at.

Once you are through Gatlinburg you can get to Smokey National Park. Please take time to go through the visitor's center. You can speak with the Rangers and and get some great information about the park.

My wife and I drove to Newfound Gap to start or adventure. I noticed an industrial smell as we climbed up to a higher elevation. It smelled like someone welding or using a cutting torch. I think some pollution gets trapped at certain levels. I was wondering if it was my car!

We enjoyed some classic overlooks and decided to try a hiking trail. The trail was the famous Appalachian trial. I was disappointed in the trail because it was over grown and you could not see any views, so we turned around and headed back to the car. This location was right on the Tennesee/North Carolina border. The sign said we were about 1,900 miles from Maine. The trail covers 2,150 miles and was built back in the 1930's by hundreds of CCC workers.

Cades Cove

After dodging a couple of thunderstorms we decided to go back to the Visitor's Center and talk to a Ranger about where to see a bear. Our plan was to go to Cades Cove west of the Visitor's Center. It is a bit of a long and winding drive to get there but it is unlike the rest of the park.

There is an eleven mile, one way road that circles around some mountains and offers abundant wildlife. We saw a lot of turkeys, deer and a small bear eating something in the brush. It can be slow going because you cannot pass any cars due to the one lane road. You are able to see some old buildings, houses and churches where people lived prior to being kicked out.

We made the loop and decided to stop and use the restroom by the camp grounds. I wanted to see a bear so we thought we would make one more loop and hope for a sighting. I thought the mountains looked pretty cool draped in clouds.

Great timing to see a bear

We swung around and were getting ready to hit the loop again when I noticed some activity by the parking lot. I grabbed my camera and saw two Rangers following a bear. The Ranger loaded his tranquillizer dart into the gun. His forst shot didn't slow the bear down and she was left with the dart hanging from her back side. He followed her into an open field and shot her again. The bear became sluggish and after a couple of minutes she fell over. Apparently the female bear was run out of the woods and into the camping area by some males. It was the third time she had a run in with the Rangers.

The cool part was being able to go over where the bear was and touch the bear while the Rangers examined her. She had a tatoo on her gums. I couldn't believe all the ticks. The Ranger tries to help her out by taking off as many as he could. I touched her and my hand became quite stinky! My wife and I felt bad for the poor female. The Ranger thought she was around five years old and had just kicked her cubs out. You could see she had been nursing a short while ago by her breasts/***. She could hear everything we were saying. I hope she didn't have to be destroyed, just relocated. Many of the bears go to Gatlinburg to eat out of the dumpsters and get fat, reducing their longevity.

Please look at my video of the Rangers examining the bear. Quite interesting. Also, I asked how often they had to tranquilize a bear. He couldn't remember the last time they did it and said the date on the bottle might have passed for the drug!

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Gateway to the Smokeys and some activities to do.
  • Cons:Too much traffic and basically a tourist trap!
  • In a nutshell:Glad we made it out of there!
  • Last visit to Gatlinburg: Aug 2009
  • Intro Written Aug 1, 2011
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