Thursday, February 4, 2010

Great Smoky Mountains

In my final tribute to the National Parks, we go to my favorite place to spend time east of the Mississippi. The Great Smoky Mountain National Park, I officially discovered this park when I was 4 years old. The only reason I know this is because we were traveling to Florida to see my Dad's grandparents & we had rented a pop-up trailer. My Dad got really sick, so we had to figure out how to set up trailer as we camped in the Smokies. So my mother two older sisters & me finally got the trailer set-up & we ended up enjoying our stay in Florida. Do I truly remember the Smokies,no not really but they do have film of us going up the Sky Lift in Gatlinburg, TN.

I returned to the Smokies on my own trip to Florida when I was 25. I traveled there several times between then & when I met Heidi. Once I met Heidi the Smokies became the place we always loved to go together. It was the first place Heidi & I "ran away" to when we first started going out & we have traveled back there at least a couple times a year since. It was 1997 when we first drove down to the beauty of the Smokies.

So why do I love the Smokies so much? It's a place to escape & reconnect with nature that's within a reasonable drive. We can get down to Gatlinburg from Indianapolis within 5.5 - 6 hours so it's ideal for a long weekend. Secondly, we've discovered a wonderful place to rent Mountain Chalet's from Chalet Village these Chalet's are amazing & keep us close enough to do things in Gatlinburg & the National Park but a world away from all the busyness of Gatlinburg & Pigeon Forge. Most of these Chalets are on a mountain above Gatlinburg, the views can be incredible up there & it's very quiet instead of all the noise of the city.

Finally, it's the beauty of the Park; the mountains are lush & green in contrast to the peaks in the Grand Tetons. The park is easy to hike, there are many "quiet walkways" that allow you to get out of your car & enjoy the park & there are many wonderful hiking trails. We have enjoyed hiking & seeing all the beauty of this park as well as enjoying all the wildlife, including Black Bear, Deer & many kinds of birds.

To explore this park I suggest starting your visit at the Sugarlands Visitors Center (It's the closest to Gatlinburg) then head off to Clingmans Dome for a short hike to a wonderful ranger tower where the views are incredible. On your way to Clingmans Dome stop at Mortons overlook a beautiful vista on the side of the road. After traveling to these places I would suggest heading back towards Sugarlands & taking Little River Road towards Cades Cove. On the way to Cades Cove stop at Laurel Falls. Laurel Falls is a short hike to a beautiful waterfall. I would encourage everyone to see these falls as the trails are all improved & not hard to walk the 1.3 miles to the falls & enjoy his view (especially in the spring as the falls are full of water). Continue to Cades Cove a beautiful area that includes a motor route to drive through the countryside. Cades Cove is the best place in the park to see wildlife on a regular basis. The loop can get very busy so go early & be prepared for a couple of hours to complete the loop.

For me the Smokies is like a second home. I can be stressed in my life & drive 6 hours to place of quiet that reaches into my soul. I would go more often if I could, I feel the true connection to the earth whenever go there. The beauty of the mountains the glory of the waterfalls & the wonder of the wildlife call me back often & I am forever grateful to have this wondrous place so close to my home. I believe in the ads for Gatlinburg they point out that they are within a days drive of 60% or 70% of the population of our great country.

Take time to explore the beauty of the National Parks rediscover who you are through this great tribute to the natural world. As John Muir said "I'm going out to go within."

Thanks for letting me share my inspiration with you. I hope you all have a wonderful weekend! Go Colts!!!

Till Monday,


Quote of the day: "Amongst the fog & the clouds lives a special place in my heart. No matter where I go in my life, I know I can always return to the Smokies, even if it's just in my mind!"

P.S. The picture is one of the many I've taken in the Smokies & the picture on my blog is also a picture I took from the Smokies

Visit the National Gallery of Writing


Mattias Kroon said...

Wonderful post about your favorite place in the nature Bill.We all have wonderful memories of such miracle places.Interesting!

Healing Morning said...

Bill, you hit all the ideal hot spots for people to come and visit! The Great Smoky Mountain National Park is, in my humble opinion, one of the prettiest, most peaceful places that I've visited. I'm blessed to live about 40 minutes away, but as with most things in your own back yard, I don't get up there as often as I would wish.

I'm glad it is one of your favorite places, and I'm glad you wrote such a glowing, supportive blog post to encourage others to visit!

~ Dawn

Anonymous said...

I love the Smoky Mts. and lived in the foothills in Tenn in the late seventies for a bit. We took our young daughters to Dollywood and Pigeon Forge in the nineties. Lovely mts. I love mountains and love that I live in the most mountainous state in the US - Nevada.


Timberwolf123 said...

Thanks Mattias, Dawn & Aine...I've enjoyed the journey of sharing my favorite National Parks each of them has a special place in my heart & I look forward to exploring more in the coming years. I appreciate your support & comments & next week will be back to my regular blog looking at life & bringing more joy to everyone.



asherwrites said...

one of the places I'd want to go when I go to USA. We have pretty much a lot of cool places here but that is what's great with the environment, it's all unique.

Anonymous said...

Although I didn't take time to comment on all your recent post about the great places to visit, I thoroughly enjoyed reading each one.

I've been to 3 of them you mentioned so far, and hope to get to the rest within the next few years. :)

Thanks for the National Geographic moment!

Beth Chapman said...

Bill, as a former resident of TN and a frequent visitor, thanks for the 'home coming.' I've been in MN for seven years now and your writing brought back some beautiful memories as well as the terror I experienced the first time I went on the skylift. On this winter night in the tundra, thanks for the warmth and green!

Sureindran said...

Bill, I enjoy your posts, and me too like to explore nature. I am keeping track the places as I read and will go for them when I have a chance onde day. Thanks for that! And I must tell you that the Smoky Mountain look great!

Timberwolf123 said...

Thanks everyone for the wonderful comments. I truly appreciate your support & friendship. I may at some point tell you about more of the national parks I've visited in my life but for now these are my favorite's. I invite you all to go outside to go inside & explore the beauty of these precious jewels.



Bernadine said...

For me, nature is where I find healing, restoration, and peace and so I really enjoyed reading each of your posts on National Parks. It's unfortunate that I have not had the opportunity to visit any of the ones that you wrote about, but can say that reading about them certainly makes me want to.

Mariam Kobras said...

Being not a great outdoors fan myself, your blog makes me want to see and explore nature far more than I normally would. Your writing is inspiring, my friend. Thank you!

Canyn said...

I love those mountains. I love the nature here in Florida, too, but most people don't see it when they come here. My father was a forest ranger, so I got to see Florida at its best. My Mom and I camped in the mountains when I was growing up and it continued when my daughter was big enough to walk. I still have her first hiking boots! (We would tie ourselves together with a rope when we took Caity.) When I lived in PA, we visited some pretty wild places up there - beautiful wild places. Vermont has some terrific hiking in the summer and very civilized. West Virginia is the wildest place I've ever stayed in a tent. We actually got a little scared when we were there - wild screaming animals, torrential rain, bats that swoop at your hair, one-car dirt roads with sheer cliffs up one side and down the other! I like the gentle Tennessee mountains best - like you. One can find beauty everywhere if you try, but you don't have to make any effort to see beauty in the Smokey Mountains. All you do is open your eyes!

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