Thursday, June 18, 2015

Smoky Mountain National Park

Smoky Mountain National Park has always been on Sid's bucket list.  We spent a total of three days in the park and came nowhere near seeing it all.  I've been putting of writing this post because I know there's no way I can show or describe just how beautiful the park is.

As those of you that live in Colorado know, the Rocky Mountains are diverse in appearance from one end to the other.  The Smokies that we saw lacked that diversity, but were nonetheless stunning.  The variety of vegetation and the numerous streams that provide the moisture for all the lushness set the scene for delightful drives and, if you're up to it, wonderful hikes on the many trails through the park.  The woods are full of such a mixture of hard wood trees, evergreens, flowering trees and bushes and vines growing everywhere.

These were just some of the views we saw on our drives.  Some of the drives in the park are barely cut through the vegetation and you can't really take pictures.  It's easy to see where, given just a short lack of attention, the trees and vines would overtake the road very quickly.

We didn't see much wildlife, but did manage to get a glimpse of this guy...

Yes, I saw a bear!!!

The traffic in some places reminded me of RMNP during elk bugling season...

There wasn't even a bear at the front of this line!

And this sign, reminding me of our friend Bob P., was certainly unusual...

A new caution sign for my collection

The National Park Service has done a great job of preserving history in the park.  Multiple original homesteads have been restored and kept as historical proof that pioneers settled and lived in these mountains long before it became a park.

Cades Cove is one of the mountain valleys in the area.  The area was originally settled between 1818 and 1821 and today contains faithfully restored buildings that represent a working farm of the period.  One, a farmhouse that was owned and occupied by Rebecca Cable until her death .in 1940.

"Aunt" Becky Cable

The farmhouse was originally a store, then a residence and boarding house.  It never had indoor plumbing.

There is a working gristmill on the property and you can purchase cornmeal or flour in the gift shop.

The mill

Water wheel for grinding corn

Finally, I thought this interesting...

While the elevation is nothing like you find in the Rockies, the terrain is just as brutal and beautiful.

If you love the outdoors, consider making a trip to the Great Smoky Mountains.  It's a reminder of just how beautiful our country is from coast to coast.

Until next time...

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