Smoky Mountain National Park
In college, we always looked forward to our annual fall mountain weekend with friends in North Georgia. Since graduating we've tried to maintain the tradition, though it's gotten more challenging with all of us moving to different cities.
Last year we decided to sway from our usual destination of Blue Ridge, GA and rented a cabin in Pigeon Forge, TN instead. Dan and I flew into Nashville early and stayed for a night. (read here). Then we drove three and half hours to meet our friends at the cabin.
Pigeon Forge is a popular family vacation destination and a great home base for exploring the Great Smoky Mountains which border Tennessee and North Carolina. Driving through the park is absolutely gorgeous in the fall.
There are several hikes and waterfalls to explore, a beautiful valley called Cade's Cove, and endless scenic overlooks. We spent most our time just catching up with our friends at the cabin, but we did split up one night to explore the area.
Dan and I drove with another couple to Clingman's Dome which has some of the best views of the mountains, as well as, the leaf peeping in the fall. The drive is beautiful, although we kept getting carsick because the road is so curvy through the mountains.
After parking at the top, its about a 20 minute walk/hike up to a tower that offers the best scenic overlook of the mountains. It is understandably crowded with families and photographers during sunset. It was so beautiful though and I'm glad we were able to see a little bit of the Smoky Mountains on our trip.
Afterwards we met the rest of our group in downtown Pigeon Forge, where they had been riding the various amusement rides like go-carts. One of the go-cart parks is even lit up at night to look like Rainbow Road in Mario Cart.
Downtown Pigeon Forge reminds me of the strip at Panama City Beach with several amusement park, themed restaurants, old time photo booths. We tried and failed to find a photo booth open after 9PM. We did find some great barbecue though at a place called Bennet's BBQ.
Have you ever spent a weekend in the mountains? Let me know where we should have our next mountain weekend!