The bluest of them all: The Great Smoky Mountains

After we left the Shenandoah mountains, we headed south into North Carolina. One of the most famous attractions in NC is the Great Smoky Mountains. This is the first time we’ve gone this far west into North Carolina (I’ve got family in the Charlotte, NC area), so I was quite excited to see America’s most visited National Park and the place where the famous Blue Ridge Parkway ends.

Immediately upon our arrival, we saw two elk just grazing in the meadows. There were a few policecars along the road, flashing their lights. I think they were afraid that 1) the elk would charge and 2) that us humans would get too close to the elk, thereby provoking 1. I managed to get a few good shots.

Then, we started the 35 mile drive from the Cherokee, NC park entrance to the Gaitlinburg, TN entrance. We climbed up, and up, and up into the mountains…

No visit to a mountain range would be complete without a hike, whether large or small.

Along the way, we spotted many a wildflower. Aren’t these flowers so gorgeous?

I’ve said it in France; I’ll say it now in the USA. Hiking uphill is always worth it.

From up here, it’s easy to see why they call these the Smokies – look at the “smoke” coming up the mountains on the left side of the photo below.

You can also see that this is a forest under stress. You can see the barren trees – they’ve been hurt by acid rain. The visibility is pretty good, but the pollution of the last century has severly limited the inspiring view.

The walk on the way down revealed more wildflowers.

My cousin and I posed for the occasional photo.

Isn’t this park just beautiful?

Even the bare trees seem to fit in here.

We finally made it to the NC-TN state line.

It’s really all a blur though, where North Carolina ends and where Tennessee begins. But with a view like this, are artificial human boundaries really necessary?

I think not.

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One thought on “The bluest of them all: The Great Smoky Mountains

  1. M-fizzle says:

    OMFG those mountain views are unbelievable!! so fabulous. i love that blue sky. AND MMMMM ELK MMMMM.

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