The first thing we did was we stopped by the Visitor's and Information Center in Sevierville. We told the volunteer there that we only had the day to drive around and she pretty much planned the day for us, where to go, what to see, how much time to expect to drive, and even another way back to Knoxville on the other side of the park, avoiding most of the traffic on the way home.
We drove through Pigeon Forge, which to me was a huge tourist trap! The road through town was a 4-lane highway (each direction), but you could only go 35 mph. The main strip was full of restaurants, hotel, amusement parks, theaters, water parks, and anything that you can think of to separate you from your hard earned money. Thank goodness we were only there for the Smokies! I suppose if you have kids, it would/could be a cool place to go to.
|Pigeon Forge main strip. Can you spot the "Titanic"?|
|A closer look at the "Titanic"|
|Watch out for King Kong on the Empire State Building!|
|State line between North Carolina and Tennessee|
|The Appalachian Trail|
Next, we drove to Clingmans Dome which is the highest point of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the state of Tennessee. If you are willing to climb the steep half-mile paved walk up to the top, you will be rewarded with the beautiful view from a cool observation deck. There are no stairs up here, just a paved walkway that goes all the way to the top. We had a little picnic enjoying the view before heading up to the observation deck. The walk was only a half-mile long, but it was pretty steep and quite a haul for the not-so-fit me! We (meaning I) had to stop a few times before we reached the top. Half a mile seems like forever when you are going uphill! The view at the top was so worth it! If you look around you may notice that a lot of the fir trees are dead. This is caused by the woolly adelgid (insect). Kinda sad, and it doesn't sound like it will get any better.
|View of our picnic lunch at Clingmans Dome|
|Clingmans Dome sign|
Almost there! Taking a break walking up to the top!
|View on the way to the top|
|We made it to the top of the observation deck!|
|View from the top of the Smokies! (notice the dead trees)|
|The flume directing water from the creek to the mill|
|A barn at the mill|
|"Rush hour" in the rain in Cades Cove.|