Saturday, July 3, 2010

Great Smoky Mountains National Park - II

After a relaxing day Thursday, I was ready for a day of being "Tourist". Early out from the motel. Stopped in Cherokee, NC for breakfast. then on into the Great Smoky Mountains NP.

Two days ealier I drove up to Newfound Gap. Today, my destination was Cades Cove.

On the way to Cades Cove there are some waterfalls in the Little River Gorge. I bypassed Laurel Falls - not wanting to do the 2.5 mile hike. Stopped by The Sinks and Meigs Falls, both that can be viewed from the road.

While the falls are beautiful, I saw a little falls/rapids in the river. No name, just one that looking nice, with the moss-covered rocks. There is a HDR Photo of this above.

Cades Cove loop road is one-way. Lots of bicycles on the road. BTW, on Wednesdays and Saturdays the road is closed for all BUT bicycles until 10am. I was thinking of staying last night in the area to ride the loop. But, it is a bit hilly - with some very steep climbs.

At the entrances to the one-way, stop by to pick up one of the booklets that describes the cove, the buildings, and the road. Very much worth the $1.

I stopped at the first historic house. Met a park employee that gave me some tips for other places to shoot in the cove. In addition to the building, he suggested a hill on one of the cross-roads. A great spot for a full 360 degree panoramic.

The photo to the right is of the John Oliver House, where I met the park employee (5 exposure HDR photo).

There is one thing that really frosted me during the drive in Cades Cove. There are several signs that suggest that you pull over to let other traffic pass instead blocking the road. While some drivers where not really "stopping" they were driving soooo slow - about 5-7 mph. And, they would NOT pull into a turn-off to let other vehicles pass. At one point I was the 5th or 6th car in a line and I could not see the back end of the line. The lead driver just kept on moseying on. (For reference, the speed limit in Cades Cove is 20 mph.)

There were a couple of the stops along the loop that I missed. At least 1 was an house that meant a bit of a hike. At that point I needed to stop for a restroom break. I found it at the Information Center. There is a collection of building in that area, including a grist mill.

On around the loop, stopping at a couple more houses. By the time i completed the loop, I was getting hungry. Picked up a snack thee to tide me over until dinner.

Back on the loop, for a second tour of the first section. Had to drive that section to get to the Rich Mountain Road which was my way out.

Rich Mountain Road is a one-way road (while in the park). Gravel road the climbs up across the mountain. Stopped one place to take a photo (recommended by the park employee) where I had a wide view of the cove with the Methodist Church.

Other than the un-courtious drivers, and the confusing ordering system at the snack bar - I had a good drive. Thanks to the fellow of Cades Cove Heritage Tours, i was able to log on the make motel reservations for the night. Ended up staying in Knoxville.

With that, I am ready to head home. See you all later this weekend.

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