Bordering the states of Tennessee and North Carolina is half a million acres of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in the USA. The park gets its name from the blue mist that hovers over the mountains perpetually. Also known as the wild flower park, it can be approached through 3 entrances – Gatlinburg, Townsend and Cherokee. The park is famous for its wild sightings, flora and fauna including some of the rare species like white-tailed deer, elk and the black bear.
Places to see when camping in the Smokies
While you can choose to camp in any of the 30 odd camping grounds available within the park, there are many things that you can do as camping activities. Here are 5 places you can visit when camping in the smokies.
1. Cataloochee Valley
The valley holds historic importance as old buildings built by inhabitants from the early 20th century are preserved here. This includes a school, 2 churches and many homes. For nature lovers, the valley offers wildlife sightings such as the elk and the deer. Head-out early in the morning or late in the evening for this activity. For the outdoor enthusiasts, the Boogerman trail is a 7 mile hiking loop that takes you through the old forest paths.
2. Roaring Fork
As the name suggests this is a mountain stream that rushes with a roar. The spot is famous for its Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail, which is a well marked self-guided walking trip across the mountain farmstead. You could try the 5.4 mile loop that will bring you back to the waterfalls.
3. Cades Cove
This quaint little valley is again a history-revisited kind of activity. Take the 11 mile loop at a leisurely pace to view all the sights in Cades Cove. The sightseeing involves buildings of the 250 odd settlers who lived here way back in the 1800’s. They have been restored and turned into tourist hot spots.
4. Clingmans Dome
At 6600 feet, Clingmans Dome is the highest peak at the Smokies. From here, you can get a bird’s eye view of valley below. Depending on the weather, your view can take you as far as 20 to 100 miles into the park below. This peak is also part of the world famous Appalachian Trail. The place is replete with the ancient culture, dance and music.
5. Mountain Farm Museum
This is a lovely and lively farm museum and a must visit for those who want to relive the past. The main building of the museum is a 19th century log house relocated from the mountains and reset in the valley. The museum exhibits the life and times of the original inhabitants of this forest. It is surrounded by a live farm and turns into a real farm setting during summers.