Friday, August 17, 2007

Places I've Been: Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, and the Smokeys

I have no idea how many times I've been to the Smoky Mountains. When I was a boy my family would go camping. There was Clarks Hill, not far from our house, the Chattahoochee National Forest in North Georgia, and occasionally we went to the Smokies...

The park is beautiful. Crowded, but beautiful. It is America's most visited national park. Because I live in Appalachia I know of plenty of places that compete with the park's beauty. Dolly Sods in West Virginia is just one example. The Smokies are much more accessible, developed to make the beauty easier to get to. And for that reason it's more crowded.

red daisiesWe visited Clingman's Dome while were where there this year (August 6-10). Red daisies were in bloom. Gatlinburg and lowland East Tennessee was experience temperatures in the upper 90's and heat indices in the 105 range. Clingman's Dome, at over 6,000 feet, was a pleasant 72F.

The trip to Clingman's Dome was our day in the Smokies this year. Last year we drove around the Roaring Fork Motor Trains and walked the path to Grotto Falls. The year before we drove the Cades Cove loop in the western part of the Smokies.

Cheryl and Holly on Gatlinburg's Sky LiftCheryl and I have made the family trip to Gatlinburg at least four times. We take her niece, Holly, with us. We've been once as part of a school trip, as well. Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge are filled with attractions. The space needle in Gatlinburg provides a great view of the city. There's plenty of shopping, the Ripley's Aquarium, Ober Gatlinburg, the sky lift, Dollywood, a variety of dinner shows, Christus Gardens, etc.

Cheryl and Holly at Grotto Falls in the Smoky MountainsWe spent much of two days at Dollywood this year. If you enter Dollywood after 3pm your ticket is good for the next day. The rides were nice. The legendary Gospel group, the Kingdom Heirs has had a show at Dollywood now for 22 years. We spent about an hour in their air conditioned showroom. They were incredible.

I suspect we'll be back in the Gatlinburg area next summer...

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