The Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Townsend Travel Blog

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DAY 8 (7/2/08)
7:30pm / 78∞ / crickets, fireflies and the smell of campfire

Today we drove from Cedars of Lebanon State Park to The Great Smoky Mountains National Park, just outside of Townsend, Tennessee. The Smokey Mountains get their name because the bowl-shaped valley between the mountains holds in natural smog and some type of ozone product I don’t fully understand to give them their “smoky” appearance year-round.

The Park, unlike other National Parks, is free to enter and is the 2nd most visited National Park behind Yosemite (to my surprise, Yellowstone is #3 – I thought it would be #2).

The drive into the park reminded me of the scene in the first Batman movie where Batman (Michael Keaton) is driving Vicki Vale (Kim Bassinger) back to the Bat Cave in the Batmobile on that dark, tree-lined road where the trees were so dense and grown together that it made a tree tunnel. Except for the part where it was dark, the road into Cades Cove at the Smoky Mountain National Park was just like that.

The narrow, steep, winding road (another 2 years gone off my life after maneuvering the RV into the park), is unlike any forest we’re used to in California. It is more dense with trees than anything I’ve ever seen and there are no pine/evergreen trees. They’re all leafy trees, which means in the fall I assume the changing of the leaves and the colors are spectacular.

Then, I slam on the brakes. Hard. Why?

Well, it makes perfect sense to stop in the middle of the flow of traffic to let your very young children run from the car to try to capture a picture of a bear cub and its mother. Right? I mean, that is a sensible choice. Needless to say, their impromptu stop was not welcomed by the majority of travelers.

Once we set up camp, we went exploring the campgrounds in our part of the park – very nice and it is completely full. Tomorrow we are going to the Tuckaleechee Caverns.

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photo by: finnjf