Greetings from Great Smoky Mountains National Park

In Cherokee, North Carolina, on August 6th of this year, the town was hopping, the tourists were swarming. The Great Smokey Mountains National Park is here. Cherokee is one of the two main entrances to the park and Gatlinburg Tennessee is the other. My husband Bob and I drove to the Great Smokey Mountains, scavenged for parking and hiked to the top observation tower. Clingmans Dome at 6,643 feet, is the highest point in the Great Smoky Mountains. The haze over the national park is from organic compounds released in droplets onto the Appalachian Mountains. Once in the atmosphere, they form particles and create a bluish haze. We also saw the turnoff for the Appalachian Trail.

It was crowded, and I’ve heard the Smokey Mountains are the most visited tourist attraction in America, between 9 and 11 million tourists per year. Cars were parked on the edge of the mountains for miles leading up to peak. Cars from Tennessee, Pennsylvania, California. Tourists on a Thursday morning. It was only about two and a half miles to the top from where we parked, but it was uphill. Fairly breathtaking, literally and figuratively, fringed by firs, topped by clouds of vapor.

Bob wanted to drive to Gatlinburg, which was only 15 miles away, following the trail we took 18 years ago with the kids. We passed the spot where I remember him taking a picture with the girls amid the roots of a great old tree on the side of a mountain.


Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Great Smoky Mountains National Park is one of the country's most popular national park sites. It offers postcard-perfect views and plentiful wildlife.

State(s): North Carolina Tennessee,

Established: 1926

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