The alarm awoke us again this morning, we have a long day planned visiting The Great Smoky Mountains National Park. We will visit a new part of the park that we did not see yesterday.
We started out along the Newfound Gap Road. This is a mountain pass located near the centre of the park.
At one of the pull offs, the State Line of Tennessee and North Carolina pass through the parking lot.
The scenery is very beautiful as we drive along the Newfound Gap Road, it would even be better in the fall as the leaves are changing colours.
The reason for the early departure this morning from the hotel was so that we could do the hike to Clingman’s Dome. With afternoon temperatures in the mid 90’s we want to do this 1/2 mile UPHILL hike while the morning temperatures are still cool. This is the highest mountain in the Smokies. There is an observation tower at the peak.
The pathway is paved, but it is steep and 1/2 mile long. Up we go, slowly, we had to stop at the benches placed every 10th of a mile for a little rest break. We weren't the only ones resting though, just about everyone was stopping for a break.
Here we are about 1/2 way to the top, I looked back and could see the parking lot where we parked the car.
And the view from 1/2 way to the top.
And here we are, we made it to the top… This is our first views of the observation tower. We still have to walk up the spiral walkway to the top.
The view from atop the observation tower.
The best thing about the uphill struggle at the beginning of the hike to get to the top is that from now on it is an easy downhill stroll. On the way up, the goal was just getting to the top, now on the way down, we have time to stop and smell the wild flowers along the side of the walkway.
We stopped at the visitor center and got our National Park Passport Book stamped and we bought t-shirts that proclaimed our feat of climbing to the top of Clingman’s Dome. I was happy to see that there were t-shirts available to purchase because I remember climbing to the top of Moro Rock in Sequoia NP last summer with our friend Patty, and after that climb I wanted a t-shirt that said “I climbed Moro Rock” but there were no such t-shirts available.
I can’t imagine doing this hike in the mid afternoon with the temperatures in the 90’s so we were smart to do it in the early morning hours.
We stopped at the Oconaluftee Visitors Center to get another passport stamp and to tour their Mountain Farm Museum.
We leave the main park briefly and head to another part of the park that is less known or accessed. Lake View Drive, but it is better known as The Road To Nowhere. Between 1948 and 1970, the Department of the Interior and the National Park Service built 7.2 miles of this road just outside of Bryson City into the park. However, due to financing issues and opposition from environmental groups, the project stalled. The unfinished 7.2-mile stretch was nicknamed "the Road to Nowhere" by locals. At the dead end of the road is a completed tunnel.
We then headed back to our hotel in Pigeon Forge TN, passing through a Cherokee Indian Reservation where we saw several fiberglass bears painted in different motifs.
We took some more photos of Main Street Pigeon Forge.
To see all of our photos from today, you can click on this link to our FLICKR site.
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