Archive for the 'Day Trips' Category
In January, a lot of us dream of Florida’s sunny beaches. But for Floridians Kristian and Ingrid Yanez, a snowy Newfound Gap was their dream come true. Even with Saturday morning’s chilling 17 degrees atop the Smokies, sibling rivalry is rarely this much fun.
At 5046 feet elevation, Newfound Gap’s temperatures are usually 10º–15º cooler than Bryson City. And it receives much more precipitation, making it the best place to find snow. But before heading out, please check the road conditions.
For updated road and weather information call the Great Smoky Mountains National Park at (865) 436-1200. Once you hear a voice, dial extension 631 for road information or extension 630 for a weather forecast.
You can get that same information via the Internet by going to twitter.com/smokiesroadsnps to read recent road notification postings. This is a Twitter website maintained by the Park, but anybody can access it at any time without having to establish a Twitter account. The webpage is updated 3-4 times a week.
The Blue Ridge Parkway turns 75 this year and it’s as gorgeous as ever, with unmatched views of Appalachia. “America’s Favorite Drive” stretches 470 miles from the Shehandoah National Park in Virginia to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina. We’re a little prejudiced of course, but we believe the rugged southern section is the most scenic. In fact, the 90 mile drive from Cherokee to Asheville will take you to the highest point on the Parkway at Richland Balsam. It’s a great day trip from the Bryson City / Cherokee area.
Download a pdf map of the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Photo by Shari Jardina, an Indianapolis photographer who’s captured many images of the North Carolina Smokies.
At 6643 feet, Clingmans Dome is the highest point in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Located in the northernmost part of Swain County along the North Carolina–Tennessee border, the temperatures at Clingmans Dome are often 10 to 20 degrees cooler than Bryson City’s. On a clear day, take the (steep) half-mile walk from the parking lot to the observation tower, and you’ll be rewarded with a stunning 360-degree view of the Smokies and beyond. The seven-mile road from US 441 to Clingmans Dome is open Aprll thru November. Photo by J.R. vanLienden, Masterpiece Portraits.
Of all the ways to enjoy the Great Smokies, nothing is more relaxing than a pontoon boat outing on beautiful Fontana Lake. With the entire north shore of the 35-mile-long lake protected by the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, wildlife sightings are common, including black bears and bald eagles. Several marinas rent the covered boats for full-day or half-day outings. Photo by J.R. vanLienden, Masterpiece Portraits.