After summer comes fall and then winter! Are you all excited about this year’s fall? I am sure you all must be. When it comes to this season, the question on everyone’s mind is always about where they can find the best view of foliage.
Last year, we planned our trip to the Great Smoky Mountains, Tennessee.This place is all about the great scenic views of the fall leaves and vantage points that inebriate you with mesmerizing, vivid landscapes.
We had planned to cover Smokies, North Carolina and Georgia during the fall trip. In today’s blog, I will jot down the list of places to visit in the Great Smoky Mountains, Tennessee.
We began our vacation by driving down to Chattanooga, Tennessee to visit Ruby falls and Rock city.
Places to visit in Chattanooga
1. Ruby Falls – I’ve never gone caving to get to an underground waterfall before. I might not even have known they existed until my friend suggested this spot while planning our trip. The moment I saw the pictures, I knew it needed to be on my list. Ruby Falls is a breathtaking waterfall located over 1,120 feet below the surface of Lookout Mountain in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Our tour guide led us along the cave path where we discovered many unique geological wonders. Near the end of our journey, we heard the thundering roar of the breathtaking Ruby Falls. 1120 feet underground, Ruby Falls is America’s tallest and deepest underground waterfall open to the public, and it’s as magical as it sounds.
2. Rock City – I had no idea what to expect when I visited Rock City. En route to Ruby falls, we happened to see signs and painted barns. The enchanted trail truly surprised me with the vast size of the garden . The star of the show is Lover’s Leap. You can also explore the fairyland Caverns to see happy gnomes.
After this beautiful destination, we started our adventure trip to Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. We had booked our cabins through the Cabins of Great Smoky Mountains. One of the major attractions on the way to the cabin is the Dixie Stampede.
So, what is this? Well, Dixie Stampede is an extraordinary dinner show with thirty-two magnificent horses and a cast of top-notch riders. They will thrill you with daring feats of trick riding and competition. The best part of Dixie Stampede was the parting of crowd into Northern and Southern states of US and pitting North against South in a friendly and fun manner. For more details you may click here. Book your seats fast so that you get a clearer and nearer view of the show.
After an ah-mazing dinner performance, we headed to our cabins in pitch dark. Did you know that Smokies are famous for active bears? So, plan your trip in such a way that you reach the cabins before the sunset.
I woke up the next morning to a stunning view which was truly rejuvenating. Folks, when you are planning your visit to Smoky Mountains, you may plan it around mid to late October or early November because that is when the fall colors would appear in its peak. And keep checking the foliage calendar in the Smoky Mountains website or facebook page.
Of course, you may get a very good view of the fall colors from your cabin. But for a much beautiful view, you will have to drive to higher elevations. We chose the Blue Ridge Parkway.
The Blue Ridge Parkway attracts drivers with its stunning views of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Spanning 755 kilometers through Virginia and North Carolina, the rolling Blue Ridge Parkway offers access to tons of hiking trails, picnic areas, cultural exhibits and awe-inspiring overlooks. Completed in 1983, the parkway was built as a Scenic Byway between Shenandoah National Park and Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Today, the Blue Ridge Parkway is one of the most visited attractions in the United States National Park System The best way to experience the Blue Ridge Parkway is by car, which you can rent either in your arrival airports – Virginia, Tennessee and North Carolina.
You would need anywhere from a day to three days, depending on if you drive the entire parkway and how often you stop along the way to enjoy the scenery. Ours was a jolly ride taking pictures and posing with the maple leaves. But we did not cover the entire stretch of Blue Ridge Parkway due to insufficient time.
Here are the lists of mileposts that you would not want to miss while driving from Pigeon Forge to North Carolina –
- 469.1 – The Blue Ridge Parkway begins at US 441 at the The Great Smoky Mountain Park
- 418.8 – Graveyard Fields is a very popular hiking spot on the Blue Ridge Parkway.filled with wildflowers and surrounded by Blue Ridge mountains with 6,000-foot peaks. The area got it’s name years ago from the tree stumps and surrounding trees that looked like grave stones in a graveyard setting.
Difficulty of hike – Moderate
Nearest waterfall – 2.3 miles, to Yellowstone Falls.
- 417 – Looking Glass Rock. So named because it reflects light brilliantly when water and ice are on the rock’s granite face.
- 408.6 – Mount Pisgah. Mount Pisgah was part of the 100,000-acre estate bought in the late 1800s by George W. Vanderbilt. The first forestry school in America was established on the estate. A large part of the woodland, the first large tract of managed forest in this country, became the nucleus of Pisgah National Forest.
- 384 – Blue Ridge Parkway Visitor Centre, just in case you want to check regarding the fall colors in the higher elevations.
- 364.4 – Craggy Gardens Visitor Center
- 355.4 – Mitchell State Park is the highest Peak in Eastern U.S.A.
- 339.5 – Crabtree Falls. This is about 250 acres of land with hiking, picnic areas, camping, drinking water and comfort stations.
Difficulty of hike – Moderate
Duration to reach the waterfalls – 40-minute walk to Crabtree Falls.
- 334 – Little Switzerland. Little Switzerland in North Carolina is a seasonal colony high in the Blue Ridge Mountains. The elevations here, ranging from 3200 feet in the village to 4000 feet at the top of Grassy Mountain, offer incredible views of Mt. Mitchell to the west and Grandfather Mountain to the east.Little Switzerland was named because of its sweeping panoramas of deep valleys and distant ranges resembling those of the foothills of the Swiss Alps.
- 316.3 – Linville Falls . The Linville River flows from its headwaters high on the steep slopes of Grandfather Mountain and cascades through two falls as it beings a nearly 2,000 foot descent through this rugged and spectacularly beautiful gorge. Trails lead to views of both the upper and lower falls. Red and golden leaves in fall beautifully contrast with the soothing greenery.
Difficulty of hike – Easy
Duration to reach the falls – 20 minutes
Distance – 1.6 miles for the round trip
- 306.6 – Grandfather Mountain overlook
Apparently, I am unable to find the milepost number of the below mentioned look over points that I had covered –
- Newfound Gap – From the parking area at Newfound Gap, you can stand on the state line between North Carolina and Tennessee.
- Clingmans Dome – At 6,643 feet, Clingmans Dome is the highest point in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It is the highest point in Tennessee, and the third highest mountain east of the Mississippi. It was freezing cold in Clingman’s Dome. So, never forget to wear your jackets when you step out of the car.
For more details : click here
Here are some photography tips for clicking some of your fine pictures in the Great Smoky Mountains. I must say this, I clicked some of the best pictures for our first anniversary in this serene beauty.
- Choose a suitable location – The most important step in making sure you capture the best pictures of the Smoky Mountains possible is to pick the right location. My favorite pictures were taken in Newfound Gap and Linville Falls. I do a lot of research on the different poses I can try on and also which is the best place to recreate that.
- Get an early start – The next tip we have to help you take better pictures of the Smoky Mountains is to pick the right time of day to start your adventure. As you know, days are shorter and nights are longer during Fall and Winter. Hence, to capture the best moments, you need to be an early riser.
- Take extra memory cards and batteries if needed – I am sure you will be clicking or making your husband’s click enormous number of photographs. So, never forget to pick an extra battery. If you do not have an extra battery, never forget to recharge those ones.
- Be very attentive – You never know what can come on your way. It could be a wild flower or a wild bear. No kidding, you will have no clue what exactly you are going to find when you go on a photo adventure in the Smoky Mountains.
- Take multiple shots – Last but not the least, this tip is something you all are familiar with. Keep clicking until you get the best shot. It is also a good idea to always make sure you take a couple of photos just in case something is out of focus or blurry on your initial take.
What to pack for your nature trip?
- Pack your hiking boots
- Winter jackets
- Comfortable t-shirts – Long and short would be a good combination
- full length jeans or pants
- Winter dresses if you really wish to wear one
- Wool hats/ mittens or gloves
- Plastic bags
Well, that sums up our trip to the smokies but we did manage to carve out some time for an adventure in the Nantahala River. Any guesses? Check back in few days for another blog on it.
Happy Fall ~~~