May, 2015 – We left the beautiful antebellum estates of Georgia behind us as we took our RV into North Carolina. The land began to undulate beneath us, and the rolling green hills of the Smoky Mountains appeared ahead. What struck us immediately during our first excursion into the park was the constant proximity of rushing water, babbling brooks and waterfalls.
We had a blast playing with our cameras on this beautiful mountain stream, trying to catch its movement as it slipped over rocks and around logs on its way down the mountain.
Newfound Gap Road is the main north/south road across the middle of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It winds up and over the mountains, and for much of its length we found ourselves shrouded by an archway of vivid green trees.
The river was our constant companion, and we stopped frequently to take its photo.
After about 10 or so miles and a few switchbacks on Newfound Gap Road, some openings began to appear in the trees and we were able to stop at various overlooks to get a view of the mountains stretching into the distance.
We weren’t immune to taking a few selfies along the way!!
There was a lot of traffic on this road, and most of it was motorcycle traffic. This seems to be the place for groups of motorcycles to go for a ride. Clusters of them passed us repeatedly.
The occasional RV uses this road to get between the Tennessee and the North Carolina sides of Great Smoky Mountains National Park too, but we kept ours on the North Carolina side for this trip.
Wildflowers were in bloom everywhere.
We saw trillium flowers here and there, and many other beautiful wildflowers too.
We found dandelions parading among the lavender wildflowers!
Heck, even the occasional brown weed looked good out here in the Smokies!
We drove out to Clingman’s Dome a few times to see the view from the highest vantage point in the park. There is a wonderful spiral walkway that goes up to a viewing platform, and the view from the top is a full 360.
The layered mountains were mesmerizing at dusk as the sun set.
If you are planning an RV roadtrip to the North Carolina side of the Smokies, there are several RV parks in the Cherokee, North Carolina, area. This gives you access to both the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the southern terminus of the Blue Ridge Parkway.
We saw lots of big rigs in the area, but we did find that it can sometimes be a little dicey to drive a large RV on these skinny, twisting mountain roads. The Blue Ridge Parkway, in particular, has several low bridges in the first few miles that prevent taller RVs from driving that beginning stretch.
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Links for the Smokies in North Carolina:
- Great Smoky Mountains National Park – Official Website. Click “View Park Map” to get your bearings.
- Happy Holiday Campground – A Spacious RV Park in Cherokee, NC
- Shenandoah National Park, Virginia – Climbs & Falls! 06/20/15
- Blue Ridge Parkway (Virginia) – Waterfalls & Rhododendrons 06/18/15
- Blue Ridge Parkway Highlights (Virginia) – Mills, Music & Farms! 06/14/15
- New River Trail State Park – Galax, VA – Pizza, Beer and Biking! 06/12/15
- Waterfalls of the Blue Ridge Parkway (North Carolina) 06/10/15
- Blue Ridge Parkway (North Carolina) – Wildflowers Everywhere! 06/07/15
- Smoky Mountain Adventures – Elk, Indians and Waterfalls 05/31/15
- Floyd Country Store Bluegrass Music Jam – So Much Fun! 05/28/15
- A Jewel of a Waterfall – Great Smoky Mountains National Park 05/12/15