I just spent 3 glorious fall days in the Smoky Mountains! My rental car took me nearly 500 miles seeing the sites. The weather was unseasonably warm with temperatures reaching the upper 70's each day. However, it was cooler anywhere I went inside the mountains. I think my coolest temperature was 37 degrees in Cades Cove. I also had pure sunshine. That may sound great, but it's terrible for photography. I had a long list of places to see each day, so I just had to make due with the lighting that I was dealt.
I did almost everything on my list, except for the places where aggressive bear activity was posted. No, I did not see one single bear on this trip...again! I heard that I just missed them in a couple of places, so I continue to be walking bear repellant I guess (sarcasm). I did get to see deer, wild turkey and not just one...but an entire herd of elk down by Oconaluftee!
Since I did this trip alone this year, I opted to stay in a hotel in Pigeon Forge. Yes, I did the trip alone...but that doesn't mean that I was actually alone. The park was packed more than any other year that I've been there. By Friday the traffic became almost unbearable and I was actually a little bit glad that I was going home the next day.
I drove through the small town of Townsend on my way to Pigeon Forge, where I came across the Quilt Barn.
My first full day was filled with activities that were closer to "home" and gave me the day to get reacclimated to the area. First stop was Greenbrier at sunrise. There were a few photographers there with the same intention, so we took turns climbing down to the good photographic spots.
Next I visited Emerts Cove Bridge, which is literally across from the entrance to Greenbrier. I always do a lot of research before I go on any trip and I had seen a picture which looked like the photographer shot it by standing in the river. So I packed my waders and somewhat recreated what I had seen. I might have gone in further, but the water was deeper than I thought. I had this location to myself and it was so peaceful. I really enjoyed exploring the area as the sun was rising.
Next stop was Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail. I took my time and stopped at all of the little structures along the way. My favorite one is Noah "Bud" Ogle's Place. The overlooks are quite amazing too.
Last thing on my list for the first day was to drive up Newfound Gap road, explore a bit and see a sunset at Clingmans Dome. Newfound Gap, which is at the TN/NC state line, has amazing views and one of the many Appalachian trail entrances. I walked up the trail just a bit just to say that I did it. Once I got to Clingmans Dome, I still wasn't sure whether or not I should attempt the hike up to the dome, but it was a couple of hours before sunset so I did it! The views from up there are amazing, as it is the highest point in the park at 6,643 feet.
This is just a mere sampling from my first day. I have galleries set up for each location that I visited and they are organized in the order that I did them in. If you subscribe to my blog, then you will be receiving 4 more posts via email this week, because there is always a story to tell.
However, if you want to jump ahead and visit the galleries, here's the link: SMOKY MOUNTAINS FALL 2015 GALLERY