THE GREAT SMOKY MOUNTAINS: It doesn't matter where you go, you see evidence of the living God! His face is reflected in streams and waterfalls. His supremacy, deemed by tall, stately foothills appear to touch the sky. The warmth of His love is seen through creatures, both large and small roaming throughout these hills.
The "awesomeness" of God's creation echos throughout those majestic peaks.
One of the most visited areas in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is Cades Cove. Located about 27 miles from Gatlinburg, it's one of the best places to see wildlife in their natural habitat. At one time, Cades Cove was a hunting ground for the Cherokee Indians. It's exciting to walk through historical buildings that are still standing. You'll see structures that date back to the 1800's and 1900's. There's log houses, barns, churches, and a grist mill that is still operating today! A great way to enjoy the cove is by traveling the 11-mile one way loop. Traffic runs slowly with ample opportunity for sight-seeing and picture taking.
There's a visitor's center located about half way around the loop. It has lots of great information about the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. There are restroom facilities and a place to buy snacks.
Looking for a short hike? You might consider the Cades Cove Nature Trail and Abrams Falls. These are only about five miles round trip. Longer hikes that lead to Rocky Top and Thunderhead Mountain begin in this area as well! Take the family and spend the whole day enjoying this beautiful waterfall! Abrams Falls is a moderate five mile hike that is well worth the walk once you get there! Take along some snacks for a picnic, or relax by the natural pool that stands underneath the falls.
The Elkmont Community is nestled in the Great Smoky Mountains only nine miles from Gatlinburg. It's a beautiful area where the rich bought vacation cabins. It's home to one of the biggest campgrounds in the Smokies.! It's also where you find great hiking trails!
At one time, Elkmont was a popular logging town. It is such a beautiful area, that folks began building cabins and vacationing here. It's an excellent getaway for a quiet day in the mountains, or a family picnic. Elkmont has an excellent campground facility. It's usually open from the beginning of March until the end of November. However, you may still use the facility during the off season. It's also a great place to enjoy the mountains in the comfort of your tent, or RV. If you've come prepared to do a little fishing, there's a good trout fishing stream known as Little River. Elkmont is one of the only places in the world you can see Fireflies perform their lighting ritual. In Tennessee, we refer to them as "lightning bugs."But whatever you want to call them, there are literally thousands! They blink in sequence all at the same time! I've taken this tour! It's an awesome site! You really need to check this one out!
Thousands visit Clingman's Dome every year. Most everyone recognize it by its 54-foot observation tower. It's a half-mile walk to the tower. Although the path is paved, the way is steep. Once you make it, you'll realize it was worth the trip. Clingman's Dome stands 6,643 feet. Not only is it the highest peak in the Smokies, it's also the highest in the state of Tennessee. Actually it lies on the state line between Tennessee and North Carolina.
It's a good idea to prepare before visiting Clingman's Dome. Make sure to wear the proper attire, keep a current weather forecast handy, and bring a backpack filled with essentials for mountain hiking.
National Geographic has lots of information about The Great Smoky mountains. Be sure to check it out at http://travel.nationalgeographic.com/travel/national-parks/great-smoky-mountains-national-park/