Ready for some East Coast adventure? Behold, the Great Smoky Mountains! Within an hour’s drive of Asheville, NC and Knoxville, TN, the Great Smoky Mountains straddle the ridgeline between North Carolina and Tennessee. With its incredible accessibility and wide range of activities, it’s no wonder why this National Park is the most popular in the United States.
Past Meets Present
The history of the area, as with all of the United States, is complicated. The park lies on the native lands of the Tsalaguewetiyi (Cherokee, East) and the S’atsoyaha (Yuchi). Just to the north of the park lies Gatlinburg with all its kitschy charm and Pigeon Forge (home of the great Dolly Parton!). From historical mills and relic cabins to hiking on the native sacred lands, the Smoky Mountains are a reflection of America’s past reckoning with itself.
Blue Ridge Majesty
The most iconic aspect of the Smoky Mountains landscape is the famous blue ridges of the mountains when seen from a distance. The trees are what form the blue color, from the isoprene released into the atmosphere, thereby contributing to the characteristic haze on the mountains and their distinctive color. A second iconic aspect of the area is “bald tops”, which are mountain summits or crests covered primarily by thick vegetation or native grasses in an area where heavy forest growth would be expected.
There are endless adventures to be had in the Smoky Mountains — hike or backpack part of the famous Appalachian Trail, explore caves, mountain bike through Cades Cove, whitewater raft the Pigeon River, fly fish in sparkling rivers, horseback ride through the mountains, picnic under waterfalls…the options are limitless! The Smoky Mountains are an epic place to leaf peep in the fall and search for wildflowers throughout the spring and summer.
Call of the Wild
Of course, humans share the park with a plethora of other wonderful creatures! The various elevations in the park, the large amount of rainfall, and the presence of old-growth forests give the Smoky Mountains an unusually large amount of biota. There are so many forms of life we might come across in the park — back bears, lungless salamanders, elk, raccoons, bobcats, foxes, woodchucks, beavers, white-tailed deer, and bats, just to name a few!
Who’s up for exploring the Smoky Mountains with us? Reach out to us to plan a fantastic Appalachian trip today!