Majestic mountains, misty valleys, meadows filled with wildflowers, all kinds of wildlife (deer, and elk and bears, oh my!), fun activities, and fascinating towns can all be found along the mountains that straddle eastern Tennessee and western North Carolina. Home to the tallest mountains on the east coast, there is a wealth of activities that can be found in the Blue Ridge and Great Smoky Mountains and nearby areas. Whether you are looking to ski, hike, bike, camp, fish, canoe, or just enjoy being in the great outdoors, you will find it in this region.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park is one of the great wild areas of the eastern United States and the most visited national park in the United States and so is certainly one of the places visitors will want to explore. But there is more to this area than “just” the national park.
There are a number of towns and interesting places to explore in and around the mountains – you may find old farms and mountain homesteads, or places where you can even mine for gems, which is a super fun activity with children.
Visit the town of Cherokee, the ancestral home of the Cherokee Indians, which offers many fascinating activities, or take a scenic train ride on the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad.
And if you want a bit of “non mountain” time, Pigeon Forge in Tennessee and Asheville in North Carolina, both offer a wide variety of interesting and fun cultural, historical, and even theme park fun.
When you visit, there are a few things you’ll want to keep in mind. You’ll be in the mountains, and weather will vary accordingly. Elevations can range from approximately 875 feet to over 6,000 feet in the national park, and the topography can drastically affect local weather as a result. In the summer especially, temperatures can be as much as 15 degrees cooler in the mountains than in the surrounding lowlands area. Another thing to be mindful of is that cellular service can be greatly disrupted in the mountains, so do not expect to rely solely on your phone’s gps. This is one time when having an old-fashioned paper map would be a good idea!
The Blue Ridge and Great Smoky Mountains are truly some of the most beautiful parts of the U.S. and if you’re looking for a vacation in the great outdoors, with lots to do – and maybe some nearby interesting sites along the way – this area should definitely be on your “vacation bucket list”!