Best Road Trip Destinations: Smokey Mountains, Tennessee
Nestled along the Tennessee-North Carolina boarder and stretching over 187,000 acres, you will find one of the most beautiful mountain ranges in the world—The Great Smokey Mountains. Whether you’re a hiker looking for a challenge on the Appalachian Trail or a college student wanting to spend some time in the outdoors on spring break, these mountains make the perfect destination for a road trip.
What You’ll See
If your doctor happens to prescribe lush greenery and rolling mountains, there’s no better place to go than the Great Smokey Mountains National Park, one of the most popular national parks in the country. With an abundance of wildlife throughout the park and a number of hiking trails, the park offers countless breathtaking views and a breath of fresh air for anyone who needs it. The towns surrounding the park, such as Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, also provide a beautiful backdrop to any road trip, with chateaus dotting the mountain slopes and rustic shop fronts adding to, rather than taking away, from the natural features of the mountain range.
Where to Stop
The Great Smokey Mountains offer a tremendous range of outdoor activities, from the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail, which offers one of the most scenic drives in the country, to Clingman’s Dome, a man-made structure that gives you access to the highest peak in the park, providing you with spectacular views.
If you happen to find yourself in Gatlinburg though, the first stop on your list should the Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies, which offers a glimpse at 10,000 exotic ocean fish and a lush rainforest habitat. The Village Shops are also a great place to be, especially if you like to consider yourself a shopaholic. With options ranging from the usual souvenirs to delicious fudge and baked goods, you really can’t go wrong.
Pigeon Forge is also a great place to stop in the Smokey Mountains, with Dollywood providing enough entertainment opportunities for the whole family. If that’s not enough, take a visit to the Hollywood Wax Museum, which has some of the most famous people in show business, from Elvis to John Wayne.
While it was originally part of the homeland of the Cherokees, the Smokey Mountains was first established as a settlement in the 18th and 19th centuries, flourishing around logging and the building of the Litter River Railroad line. The Great Smokey Mountain National Park was officially named so in 1976, becoming a part of the Southern Appalachian Biosphere Reserve in 1988, allowing its lush greenery to remain intact to provide us with the beautiful vacation spot we know today.
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