No visit to the Southeast is complete without visiting the America’s most popular national park, the Great Smoky Mountains. You heard me right. The Great Smoky Mountains, straddling the boarder of Tennessee and North Carolina is our nations most popular national park amassing around ten million visitors a year!
Before heading back to Sonoran Desert for more west coast exploring, I wanted to hit up a few of my favorite parts of the park including Clingman’s Dome and Cades Cove. I’ve posted more info on this park before, so I’ll just say that the day started off sunny, but afternoon rain moved in while I was at Clingman’s Dome, the highest elevation in the park. Take a look at the pics!
My “base camp” this go around would again be Elkmont. Elkmont is a developed campground on the Tennessee side of the park and is located right off Little River Road. Elkmont is one of my favorite campgrounds in the park (its neck and neck between Elkmont and Balsam Mountain). Elkmont was and old historic logging town where Knoxville’s “rich folk” would come in the summers to escape the oppressive heat of summer the Deep South. There is quite an in-tact town that still exists although all of the buildings are closed off to the public (you can walk up to them but entering them is unlawful). Some of these historic structures are set to be demolished but a good many are up for preservation. The Park Service has yet to disclose the “short list” of structures that shall be saved.
This year Elkmont almost felt empty despite there still being more folks there than I had expected there to be. I enjoyed the stay here a lot. This year I scored a “prime” walk-in tent site that was situated at the end of a peninsula on which each side had water. Little River on the left, and a creek on the right. Surrounded by folks I knew, this was a great, quiet trip. In case you want to look up the site, I think it was B2.
This year, the weather was also great. Although day one saw some rainfall, day two did not. A crisp morning (upper 50’s) was a great wake up and would lead to a day that did not get out the mid 60’s, and on top of the mountains at 5000 plus feet, even cooler! All of this with more than abundant sunshine and little morning fog.