Great Smoky Mountains National Park, on the border of Tennessee & North Carolina, is the most visited National Park in the United States with over 11 million people in 2017. That’s almost twice as much as the second most popular park, the Grand Canyon. I didn’t know and I bet you didn’t either.
We visited the Smoky Mountains in late July, along with about a million other people. But that is just a rough guesstimate on our part. July & August are the busiest time of year for the Smoky Mountains and even then it was well worth it!
This National Park includes expansive prairies, soothing mountain scape and charming historical settlements. When the GSMNP was created in 1934, many of the settlers left their homes and businesses and those buildings have been preserved by the park. Southern Appalachia was also home to the Cherokee people who were forcibly removed by the US government and the NPS shares some Native American history throughout the park.
Clingman’s Dome is the highest peak in the Smokies at 6,643 feet. It’s the third highest mountain east of the Mississippi. The wonderful thing about this summit (and National Parks in general) is that it is unusually accessible. We were able to drive up the winding Newfound Gap Road until the last half a mile and then we hiked the last half a mile up a VERY steep trail to the top. From the observation deck we were rewarded with 360° views of the Smokies.
I really enjoy photographing the visitors to public spaces as much as the scenery. I think its magical to have so much of the natural landscape preserved for generations to experience. I’ve attempted to share a little of the Great Smoky Mountains here and I hope you get inspired to get out and explore!
Visiting a national park with children means spending some time traveling by car in order to see as much as possible on a short visit. We spent only one day in the Great Smoky Mountains and managed to see Cades Cove (a valley on the western side of the park), made the very long and somewhat treacherous drive up Newfound Gap Road then hiked up to Clingman’s Dome (the highest point in the park), picnicked with a bear near Little Pigeon River (this was exciting but unintentional – NEVER approach a bear!) and explored the settlement surrounding the Cable Grist Mill.
If you want to see an image of that adorable baby bear be sure to join our mailing list, because we shared the image in our latest email as well as a FREE DOWNLOAD of the gorgeous Smokies.
Finally, I’m excited to introduce another new element to our blog: video. I’ve embedded a time-lapse from Cades Cove and some soothing footage of the grist mill below and you can see Clingman’s Dome and Little Pigeon River on our new YouTube channel as well as subscribe to see our latest videos as we release them.
The details included in this post are from The National Park Service website which is a great resource before & during your visit. If you’re interested in licensing for these or any other images from Zach Dobson Photography, please contact us. And be sure to subscribe to see our latest content as it’s released as well as get some cool extras we offer only to our closest allies.