Great Smoky Mountains National Park Journals

The Uncommon Guide to the Smoky Mountains of N.C.

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Sunrise at Indian Boundary Campground Photo, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, North Carolina More Photos
Quote: Beyond the crowds, the Great Smoky Mountains is a land of striking beauty. I have visited the area since a very early age and now call the area home. They are full of secrets and surpises. Can I share a few with you?

The Uncommon Guide to the Smoky Mountains of N.C.

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Overview

Sunrise at Indian Boundary Campground Photo, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, North Carolina
Quote:
The more mountainous North Carolina side of the Great Smoky Mountains, does not have as many "blockbuster" tourist attractions as on the Tennessee side. What North Carolina lacks in glitter, is made up for with the scenic beauty of it's vast wilderness lands. There are many other majestic mountain ranges in every direction where the crowds are a often much thinner. That being said, don't give up on the National Park. Even in during summer vacation and autumn leaf seasons, those that seek solitude can find it in the 800 square miles of forested mountains. With over 900 miles of trails and truly scenic back road drives, you can always escape the crowds. I will offer a few tips on both excellent d...Read More

The Swag Country Inn

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Hotel

The Swag Country Inn Photo, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, North Carolina
Quote:
After a lifetime full of travel, The Swag Country Inn continues to be the one mountain hideaway that comes closest to true perfection. As you climb a rough gravel road to the 5000 feet level, it becomes clear that you are in for something completely out of the ordinary. The remote location makes check-out the best time to get back in your car, but you won't want to leave anyway. Located on the saddle between two high mountain peaks on the southeastern border of Great Smoky Mountain National Park, a beautiful three mile long nature trail is surrounds the property. It is anchored by five "hideaways" each with a unique view and a place to sit an relax. Rocking chairs line each porch and deck of this ram...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on November 11, 2003

The Swag Country Inn
2300 Swag Road
Great Smoky Mountains National Park, North Carolina
1(800) 789-7672

Snowbird Mountain Lodge

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Hotel

Snowbird Mountain Lodge Photo, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, North Carolina
Quote:
Since 1941, this old fashioned mountain lodge has welcomed visitors to the Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest. Set in a mature mixed hardwood forest that is stunning in the autumn, the lodge is constructed of chestnut logs and native stone. Much of the arts and crafts furniture in the public rooms is original to the Snowbird Lodge. The main lounge features a two-story beamed ceiling with a picture window facing the mountains to the south. Enjoy the fire in the two large stone fireplaces that flank the main lounge and dining room. The terrace is a wonderful place to enjoy coffee, read a book from the library, or just relax. Looking toward the south all you can see is a vast designated wilderness area. In ...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on November 13, 2003

Snowbird Mountain Lodge
4633 Santeetlah Road
Great Smoky Mountains National Park, North Carolina
1(800) 941-9290

The Abbey Inn

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Hotel

Quote:
The Abbey Inn is classic motel that sits high above Maggie Valley near Soco Gap. Tucked away in a high mountain cove, the property is bordered by a small mountain stream. Hanging plants and flowers surround the property. It offers spectacular views from just below the Blue Ridge Parkway on the upper end of Maggie Valley toward Cherokee. Though it is located on the often busy U.S. 19, the rooms are far enough off the road so that noise is not a big problem. If you are approaching from the north through the park on US 441, you can bypass the Cherokee traffic altogether by taking the 11-mile shortcut on the Blue Ridge Parkway from the Oconaluftee entrance of GSMNP to US 19 at Soco Gap. The Abbey Inn i...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on November 20, 2003

The Abbey Inn
U.S.19 Soco Road
Great Smoky Mountains National Park, North Carolina
1(800) 545-5853

Fryemont Inn

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Hotel

Fryemont Inn Photo, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, North Carolina
Quote:
This little known historic landmark seems to grow out of the summit of a large foothill overlooking Bryson City, NC and GSMNP. It is a large, moss-covered, and rambling old hotel that is surrounded by 80-year-old hemlocks. It offers an old-fashioned mountain lodge experience. Since it was built in 1923 by timber baron Amos Frye, it is not surprising that everything is made of wood. It is surprising that the Brown Family has managed to maintain and even improve the lodge and it’s furnishings through several generations. The large front porch may be the hotels biggest draw. On a clear morning you can watch the sun rise over the highest peaks of GSMNP and sleepy little Bryson City slowly come to...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on September 13, 2004

Fryemont Inn
Fryemont Road
Great Smoky Mountains National Park, North Carolina
1(800) 845-4879

Smokemont and GSMNP Camprgrounds

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Hotel

Smokemont and GSMNP Camprgrounds Photo, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, North Carolina
Quote:
Best Things Nearby:Only 5 miles from Cherokee and 3 miles from the Blue Ridge Parkway, this is probably the most ideal location for exploring the North Carolina portion of the Smokies. In the park, don’t miss the Mingus Mill and the Pioneer Farmstead just south of the campground and near the Oconaluftee entrance of the park. These are impressive preservations of pioneer buildings that were original to the park. In Cherokee, Oconaluftee Indian Village, The Museum of the Cherokee Indian, and Unto These Hills, a melodrama, provide a fine afternoon of entertainment and education. Go to massive Harrah's Cherokee Casino for most appreciated donations to the Cheroke...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on November 21, 2003

Smokemont and GSMNP Camprgrounds
US 441 North
Great Smoky Mountains National Park, North Carolina
1(800) 365-CAMP

Giant Yellow Poplar Photo, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, North Carolina
Quote:
Cherohala Skyway Drive along the much less crowded Cherohala Skyway from Robbinsville, for scenery on par with any that of The Blue Ridge Parkway. This route was finished in 1996, and offers spectacular scenery and well developed overlooks all the way up to Hooper’s Bald and beyond into Tennessee. For the first time ever, the casual motorist can get stunning long-range views the incredibly rugged Unicoi and Snowbird Mountains to the South of GSMNP. At 5,700 feet the area near Spirit Ridge and Hooper’s Bald, a former game preserve, offers the best views, a profusion of wildflowers, and is best place to enjoy a short hike and a picnic. If your timing is right you will be asto...Read More
Andrew's Bald Photo, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, North Carolina
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Buckle your seat belts, some of the best scenery in Great Smoky Mountains National Park is on the back roads. Don’t be afraid to take them, and don’t be afraid to get lost. I have done most of my "back road tours" with a free park map. I also recommend Mountain Roads and Quiet Places which is published by the non-profit Great Smoky Mountains Natural History Association. It is the official guide to the park's roads. These are my own shorter descriptions written from personal experience. These and other drives are covered in more detail in that publication. Here are my picks for the best back roads in the N.C. half of the Great Smoky Mountains. All of them can be easily done as day tri...Read More
Richland Balsam - The Top of the Parkway Photo, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, North Carolina
Quote:
Consider the long road to Asheville. Leaving Cherokee or Maggie Valley, soar along the highest portion of the Blue Ridge Parkway. Choose a portion, or do the whole section, it is a worthwhile detour. This is the land of Fraser firs, mountain meadows, and waterfalls. With very few people, great weather, and the impressive bloom of late spring and summer, May and September are my favorite months to travel this route. Throughout the spring and summer this section of the Blue Ridge Parkway is almost never as crowded as the park roads. With hundreds of overlooks, these are what I consider the best of the best stops on this most mountainous section, with a few tips from yours truly, ...Read More
Looking Glass Rock Photo, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, North Carolina
Quote:
"The section of forest served by U.S. 276, probably offers more outstanding attractions, activities, and recreational opportunities than any other 15-mile-or-so stretch of mountain driving." (Mountain Getaways - Rusty Hoffland) Upon exiting the parkway on U.S. 276 south, the road goes through several switchbacks for 4.8 miles to Pink Beds Picnic Area. The pink beds are a large upland forest that gets its name from the profusion of pink rhododendron and mountain laurel that bloom in late spring and early summer. This a particularly nice place to picnic during these times of the year. Short trails surround the picnic area. Located immediately south of the P...Read More