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Old 10-14-2008, 10:41 PM   #1
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smoky mountain trip

we are leaving for a week saturday from eastern nc out to Asheville nc then to the smoky mtns. We have never been there can anyone suggest a good itinerary? No schedule other than be home in 9 days. Thanks for any suggestions
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Old 10-15-2008, 07:54 AM   #2
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Highlights from our two trips there:
  • Biltmore
  • Cades Cove
  • Fontana Dam
  • Gatlnburg TN if you're into TACKY to the max.
  • Maggie Valley
  • Linville Viaduct
  • Downtown Waynesville
  • Sylva
  • Dillsboro
I'll add more if I think of anything else.
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Old 10-15-2008, 07:57 AM   #3
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Asheville area is nice. A good base camp would be Bear Creek Campground just off I-40 at the Farmer's Market exit. The Biltmore House and Winery are located nearby and are a must see. There is also a good weekend flea market on hwy 25 towards Hendersonville. There are many waterfalls in the Brevard area that is off US hwy 64, but many parts of 64 are NOT trailer friendly. You can go to Waynesville and the Maggie Valley area near the Smoky mtns. Many good campgrounds are in this area. Also, Cherokee is close by. I never drive across the mountain from Maggie Valley to Cherokee because of steep grades. I also, never go from Cherokee to Gatlinburg, TN due to winding mountain road and grades.
Gatlingurg and Pigeon Forge in TN are very "touristy" places. Many campgrounds can be found in the Pigeon Forge area. Also, the Dollywood theme park is in PF.
If you need a free overnight, get off I-40 at exit 123 and pvt me for directions. '
Have a great trip.
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Old 10-15-2008, 08:29 AM   #4
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If you enjoy nature and hills and waterfalls, the Roaring Fork part of the Smoky Mountains is an excellent spot for a couple of hours.

It is rather narrow and no trailers are allowed. It is just outside the main North entrance to the park. You have to go through town to get to it but it is certainly worth the trip.

Here's a photo I took in May at Roaring Fork that won best in show at our local fair last month. This is pretty typical of what you will see there, especially towards the end of the drive.
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Old 10-15-2008, 12:36 PM   #5
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Helen, ga--cleveland, ga home of the cabbage patch dolls, Dillard house withe the fantastic buffet, Dillsboro and the train ride. Top of Georgia AS park. look it up on the internet, not for everyone but we like it. zz
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Old 10-15-2008, 09:06 PM   #6
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thanks for all the good suggestions. I was thinking entering the park from the south and going north through Gatlinburg etc. Is there any roads that I shouldnt tow on? Are there campgrounds within the park that are good stops?
thanks
Phil
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Old 10-15-2008, 09:56 PM   #7
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Elkmont campground, loop F is spectacular with the river behind the sites.
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Old 10-15-2008, 10:31 PM   #8
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I grew up in Knoxville, and we just returned two weeks ago from a trip that included four nights in Pigeon Forge.

I know that your trip does not have a specific schedule, but you need to consider advance reservations for campsites......colorful foliage brings folks out in droves, and it gets a bit crowded in the mountains during this time of the year (and, no discounts).

Not sure of your route into Gatlinburg, but there are a few roads that could test your driving skills.......if you can provide a more specific route I can advise......do not, repeat do not take 129 between NC and TN (317 curves in 11 miles).....it's named "The Dragon" for a reason.

Campgrounds will be at a premium during October. IMO Creekside in Pigeon Forge is the best (sites are very close together). Nothing that I would consider in Gatlinburg. Elkmont is a Federal Campground (with no hookups) that provides real peace and quiet and is conveniently located to Cades Cove. There is a free dump station seven miles away.....across the road from the Smoky Mountain "Sugar Lands Visitor Center." Townsend is a really great area......aptly named "The quiet side of the Smokies" but the two commericial campgrounds - Tremont and Big Meadow are overpriced, with no other choices.

Best restaurant in Gatlinburg: The Peddler (steaks carved at your table)
Best breakfast in Pigeon Forge: The Old Mill
Best (economical - $25) show in the area: Country Tonight

Hope your trip goes well......post any specific questions.

Chief
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Old 10-16-2008, 02:31 PM   #9
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If we go from Asheville to 441 and enter the park from the south is there any roads I should avoid? My truck pulls fine up grades. Go through Maggie Valley?
Is Smokemont worth a stay? I will try to stay at Elkmont one or two if there is room.
It looks like the beginning of the week until Wednesday is no problem but after that the "leaf people" have the area reserved.
We may need to just go along and see whats available when we get to a spot rather than trying to keep a schedule for a reservation.
Thanks to all for the suggestions
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Old 10-16-2008, 02:52 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by nsteel View Post
If we go from Asheville to 441 and enter the park from the south is there any roads I should avoid? My truck pulls fine up grades. Go through Maggie Valley?
Is Smokemont worth a stay? I will try to stay at Elkmont one or two if there is room.
It looks like the beginning of the week until Wednesday is no problem but after that the "leaf people" have the area reserved.
We may need to just go along and see whats available when we get to a spot rather than trying to keep a schedule for a reservation.
Thanks to all for the suggestions
We just got back from Elkmont(no hookups). Great campground, try to stay on a river side camp site. As Silverhobby said in post #3, I would not tow from Cherokee to Gatlinburg across the mountains, but you said that should not be a problem. View Cades Cove while in the park, we biked around it one morning. I included a picture of our Airstream at Elkmont and a bear & deer we saw at Cades Cove.

I would try to get a reservation ahead of time. If you go to NPS.gov, then Smoky Mts., then Elkmont, on the map of Elkmont the sites will be marked for larger RV's(in red, I think).
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Old 10-21-2008, 06:28 PM   #11
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This is just info on the Park Area...

We're in Franklin, NC right now having just stayed several days in the Park Area. Here's where we stayed. In order to hike and see areas on the western side of the smokey mts we stayed 6 nights at Twin Creeks Campground. It is within the city limits of Gatlinburg, but didn't feel like it. For us, we did some serious hiking including Mt Leconte in one day, Ramsey Cascades, and Mouse Creek Falls in Big Creek Area. Personally, I liked the close proximity to Gatlinburg without the feeling of being in town.


Also, This trip we went to Cherokee and stayed at the KOA. We did this in order to see the southern park of the park and part of the Nantahala nat'l forest. While we were here we drove up New Foundland Gap road to see the sunset at Clingmans dome.

Another year, when we wanted to see Laurel Falls and Cades Cove, we stayed at Pigeon Forge at Claybaughs Campground and at the KOA in Townsend. (two different trips)

If you're interested in the Nat'l Park, and entering from the south, I'd stop at the first visitors center that has Park Info. They have these nifty guides that cost only a buck. They include one for Auto Tours (includes Roaring Forks which was mentioned) and another for Waterfalls, some of which are drive bys, short walks, and long hikes.

Obviously we're big into the Nat'l Park but I do want more in amenties than the nat'l park campgrounds offers. Also all the places we stayed had wifi from my site.

BTW, we did tow from Gatlinburg to Cherokee with a one ton Chevy Van (5.7 gas engine) and 34' airstream. We made it ok, but said he didn't want to do it again.

For a more general list of your entire trip, Fordtruck made a great list.
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Old 11-03-2008, 03:31 PM   #12
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Thanks for all the good replies we had a great trip.
Stayed in Asheville a couple of nights at Bear Creek campground good location and great Farmers market. Then we stayed two nights at Elkmont Campground in the park at a no generator site Even though it was a quiet site you could hear all the generators on the other side of the river until all went silent at 8 pm . It was cold at night and with really conserving battery power almost none used during the day we just squeezed out enough to run the furnace blower motor for two nights. We ran a Mr heater for the few hours before bed then shut it off for the furnace while sleeping.
We went to Cades Cove and traffic was a little backed up and didn't know why until we came up on the bear everyone was taking pictures of!

We then had two nights booked at Creekside in Pigeon Forge and visited the mountain from there. Went up Clingsman dome and even though we could drive up until the last 1/2 mile then walk to the top the last 1/2 mile seems like ten I kept telling my wife that it was just the thin air and not that we are out of shape What a view, we could see for 40+ miles in all directions.

We had reservations at Smokemont Friday and Saturday night but opted to stay at Creekside as a strong front with high winds were forecast and didn't think 441 was the place to be during that...
Friday we thought Roaring fork would be a nice drive as it was supposed to be wet all day. The first part was extremely windy going up the narrow and twisted road with limbs down everywhere but as we started down the wind was at zero and the sights were great. another good day.
Saturday we took the trolley bus to Gatlinburg and spent about a half a day and left. Not our type of place with all the junk shops but we did get good donuts!

I think next time we will head to the south side of the mountains and explore from there. I think I only saw one airstream all week and such perfect weather to be out.

Thanks again
Phil
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Old 11-03-2008, 03:36 PM   #13
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The Biltmore is a must, plus take the boat ride on Lake Lure..........
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