With around 187,000 acres of land, The Great Smoky Mountains are a major attraction of the USA that thousands of people flock to every year. This large area of land stretches along the Tennessee-North Carolina border.
These mountains are a grandiose part of the Appalachian Mountains, consisting of over 800 square miles. The Smokies are known to release more than the substantial amount of an organic compound called isoprene into the air, which is where the fog and bluish hue of the mountains come from; hence, its name.
One of the best ways to experience these mountains is with a recreational vehicle (RV). It is the best way to take in the incredible scenery along the routes. To make the most of your trip, here are some of the most famous and exciting routes you can take to get the best views and breathe in this unique vacation spot.
Smoky Mountain National Park
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is without a doubt the best way to experience the Smokies. With miles and miles of hiking trails through the hills, it takes visitors on an adventure different than any other they’ve ever experienced. Graceful waterfalls, rushing mountain streams, lofty trees, and abundant wildlife are among the sights to be seen. With all these natural wonders, it’s not surprising that the Smoky Mountains are a popular destination among campers. If you’re looking for a private campground to enjoy the calmness that the mountains bring, Foothills, Riveredge, Pine Mountain, and Smokey Bear parks are some of the best camping parks to check out.
There are numerous options in Tennessee for those on an RV trip. The Smokies even offer a few front country campgrounds to park your vehicle, then go explore the surrounding areas such as Gatlinburg. It is home to just around 4000 people, but has a lot more tourists since it’s visited by about 10 million people each year. This charming mountain town is one of the top most visited locations in the entire USA. From the more thrill seeker tourists to those just wishing to breathe in the scenic viewpoints, the town attracts all types of people.
Newfound Gap Road
The Appalachian Trail crosses over Newfound Gap Road and overlaps the state line between North Carolina and Tennessee for most of its length through the park. You can enjoy a short stroll or a day or more of backpacking and hiking on the trail as it runs through the park. The 31-mile stretch of mountain road happens to be the only fully paved road in the park and the only one that journeys through the park’s center. Begin a driving tour of Newfound Gap from Gatlinburg and you’ll ascend about 3,000 feet into the mountainous landscape, traveling through aromatic woodlands of pine, oak, and more.
Blue Ridge Parkway
No matter how many times you’ve ever traveled through it, Blue Ridge Parkway will never cease to amaze you. The beauty of the area is awe inspiring, and it’s recommended that you take it slow and enjoy the surrounding scenery. It’s an easy drive and before you know it, you’ll find that you're 6,000 feet above sea level. This is one of the top scenic routes of the whole USA. Because of its exceptional feat of engineering, the route allows you a view of the mountains from your RV. It’s a 469 mile stretch of splendid scenery of wildlife and forests. Its lowest point is 600 feet and magnificently rises to 6,053 feet at Richland Balsam Mountain in the Pisgah National Forest.
Being only 36 miles long, the Cherohala Skyway goes through North Carolina and Tennessee and rises to almost 6,000 feet. This is the best route of the Blue Ridge Mountains, where you’ll get views of the Unaka and the Smoky Mountains, not to mention the Tennessee River Valley. When you pass through the Tellico River Gorge, you can enjoy the rich wildflower and wildlife along the river and drive along steep granite walls.
Clingmans Dome is situated 6,643 feet above sea level, and the third tallest mountain east of the Mississippi River. Visitors can travel along the seven-mile stretch of Clingmans Dome Road to the Visitors Center and a parking area where you can station your RV. From this parking area, follow the half-mile trail to the Clingmans Dome summit and its observation tower for one of the best views in the park. Along Clingmans Dome Road are several scenic areas with exit stops that allow for photos of the Smoky Mountain range. The seven miles of winding road give views of nature, ranging from mountain valleys to carved-like ridges and an array of woodland. The road closes from December through March and during severe weather; although Clingmans Dome and the observation tower are open all year.
For history buffs, they can enjoy the largest variety of historic buildings, including churches, log homes, and a functioning mill in Cades Cove, which is a broad valley surrounded by mountains and offers some of the best opportunities for wildlife viewing. It is an 11-mile, one-way loop road that circles the cove, offering motorists the opportunity to sightsee at a relaxing pace. While driving, keep your eyes open for white deer, coyote, elk, fox and black bears. Visitors often spot black bears in the late afternoon or early evening hours. Black bears typically can be seen along the Loop during late summer and fall.
Besides all the must-see areas of the Great Smoky Mountains, there are lots of must-do things. Any outdoor activity you like or want to try, you’ll find it available, from bungee jumping to fishing. Family fun is a top priority at different areas, such as visiting Dollywood, the 150 acre theme park named after the famous, country superstar co-owner, Dolly Parton. For the all-American experience, RV trip through the Great Smoky Mountains certainly needs to be on the top of your list of vacation spots.