Great Smokey Mountains National Park

Fall in the Smokeys

This week we added another National Park to our places visited. Fall arrived this week too so we are doubly blessed. We arrived Sunday to experience first hand what I had heard from others; this area is a traffic nightmare. We were lucky in that it was the traffic leaving the area that was backed up for miles and we were coming into the area. We have been staying at the River Plantation RV park in Sevierville. It’s actually a pretty nice park, our biggest obstacle was a low branch in our spot but we got parked and all was well. When we first arrived it was still warm during the day but cooling off at night making for great sleeping weather, as the week has progressed fall has definitely arrived. Monday we drove into the park and went to the visitors center. The traffic into the park is amazing, pretty much a steady stream.

A bridge on the trail, really just a flat log with a hand rail, pretty cool

These are the trails we could have added if we had time

Once we finally found a spot to squeeze the truck into we went in and got some maps for hiking. We decided we wanted to hike Laural falls as Trudy told me this was her favorite so back on the road we went. The road to this area is also the road to the Cade’s Cove Loop which is a popular driving tour, and that was evident from the traffic headed that way. This road is very winding and fairly narrow, its pretty but I was the only one who got to enjoy it as John had his eyes on the road the whole time. When we get to the area for the falls there is absolutely nowhere to park. Every available parking space, including ones people just made up were taken. So we kept going but when we reached the Cade’s Cove picnic area John had had enough so we pulled into the picnic area. I found on the map there were several trails that start here. We found a spot large enough for the truck, whew. We chose the Andrews Creek trail, beautiful forested trail along an equally beautiful stream. It hooks into a couple more trails but after about a mile of all up hill we turned back for the parking area. All the changes and traffic had pushed back the time and it was really too late in the day to go any further. When we finally made it back to Pigeon Forge we found the Smokey Mountain Brewery and enjoyed a little dinner and a brew. Other than the traffic it was a great day.
the creek along our hike

Tuesday we got up a little late and the weather looked iffy and the forecast was for some rain so we decided to stay in town (turned out we had no rain and the sun came out-go figure). We basically kicked back and then went to the outlet mall just for some exercise. It is a large and busy outlet mall so we I got in all my 10,000 steps, yea!!! The only two stores I ever get excited about are the Nike store and Eddie Bauer. I came away with just a 3/4 zip fleece from Eddie Bauer. It was on sale for 1/2 price which made me a happy girl.

The view from Clingmans Dome parking lot
Today was our last chance to get out in the park. A cold front came through last night and it was cool and windy  but no rain was expected. When we left the trailer it was around 50 degrees out. Today we wanted to go to Clingman’s Dome. We did wear warmer clothes and I brought a stocking hat, the way it turned out we should have brought all our winter gear. The drive up was beautiful but the closer we got the thicker the cloud layer got until we really were just driving in and out of the fog. The outdoor temp dropped to 27 degrees. We obviously were unprepared for that. We got out in the parking lot and the view was just the clouds and when you looked at the trees they had hoar frost on them, brrrrrrrrr. We visited the store and got a postcard and something for Evie for Christmas.

The hoar frost
We toyed with the idea of still doing the hike but people returning said it was snowing there, no visibility and the wind was really whipping around. Oh well, I guess this trip will mainly be a car tour. On the way down the mountain we pulled off several times and as we got lower the sun was out some and the colors were beautiful. Where we are staying it is really only fall around the edges but as you gain altitude you get to the areas of peak color and then at Clingman’s dome most of the leaves had fallen. We really enjoyed all the color, the last few years we have kind of missed this because of where we traveled to so getting to see the changing colors of fall was spectacular.

Tomorrow we take off again and will be going to Strom Thurmond Lake and the Petersburg COE campground in Petersburg GA. Another new state for the RV. John and I both visited Atlanta when his brother Jim was alive but really haven’t seen much of the state except for that and that is actually the one place we are avoiding. I’ve just had enough of cities for awhile so we are going to stick to some COE and state parks for the next few weeks until we need to be in Fort Walton Beach. I’m really glad we visited Memphis, Nashville and the Smokeys but now we are ready for a slower pace of life and a little more nature.

Happy Trails........................


  1. It's a bummer the traffic was bad. We were there during the summer, and the traffic was terrible then. I thought maybe by this time of year, it would be better. Guess not :( Glad you got to enjoy at least some of the area.

  2. Please say hello to work camper Rick Glover from Karen and Bob. Your experience in the Smokies is, unfortunately, why we haven't visited in several years, even though we live an hour and a half away.

  3. Cool! We just left Strom Thurmond today. We were in site 19 in Petersburg. Now we're next door in Augusta at an RV park until Monday. Pop me an e-mail if you want to get together while you guys are nearby!

  4. Such as great park and a good time to be there with the fall colors:)

  5. I guess I won't make a trip to Clingmans Dome anytime soon. Your post reminded me of the traffic when we used to stay in that area years ago. It was bad then, and I guess it's probably worse now. We found a little gem of a town in Blairsville, Georgia. Beautiful area, lovely fall colors, lots to do and no traffic.

  6. as much as we would love to see the fall colors we prefer the less crowded venues which is why we tend to leave a little earlier than most heading south for the winter... besides I just hate cold weather!

  7. We missed the brewery!! did you read our post on our Smoky Mtn experience?

  8. Having been raised in Wisconsin, but living in Texas and California for the last 35years, I miss fall colors. One of our goals is to get east next fall.

  9. We haven't been to the Smokies in years. Thanks for the fall color show! You two are really wracking up the states. Safe travels.


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