Expedition Team: Dave Miller, Rosie Miller, Jacque Miller, Matt Miller, Holly Miller, Shane Miller
Date: 1997, 1998, August 1999, August 2000, 2002, 2004
Smoky Mountain National Park is the most visited national park in the USA with 307 million visits. The Smoky Mountain range rises along the Tennessee and North Carolina border and is known for black bears, waterfalls, hiking trails, wildflowers, autumn colors and the cloudy mists that hang over the higher mountains. Our family has camped here almost a dozen times through the years. I remember as a 8 year old kid in 1963 as my parents drove through the park, there was trash everywhere along the road as people used to throw their garbage out the car window. Black bears were often seen out by the road rummaging through the garbage. How things have changed. Today the park is clean and beautiful.
As Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg has grown through the years it is a challenge to tow our travel trailer through these two crowded towns. If we are camping multiple days it is fun to drive back into town for a few hours to visit an attraction like the Titantic Museum, Ripley’s Aquarium or drive the go carts.
We camped at Elkmont Campground many times & had a small stream behind our site that we played and swam in. We cooked hot dogs and roasted marshmellows around the campfire. We drove throughout the park and saw some deer, elk and brown bears. We hiked up to Clingman’s Dome and hiked a mile out and back on part of the Appalachian Trail. Later we hiked the Elkmont Campground 1.5 mile trail. At every national park we attended the kids completed there books and hiked to different areas to complete their Junior Ranger assignments (Photo#1).
When leaving the national park on the southeast side we entered Cherokee, North Carolina where we stopped, panned rocks for gold (Photo#7), met some real Indians and had lunch.