Looking for a good place for you next vacation? Look no farther, I’ve got just the place for you. The beautiful mountains of North Carolina. The Great Smokey Mountains are part of the Appalachian system, on the N.C.-Tenn. border; highest range E of the Mississippi and one of the oldest uplands on earth. The mountains are named for the smokelike haze that envelops them.
No visit to Western North Carolina would be complete without a stop at The Great Smokey Mountains National Park! http://www.nps.gov/grsm/ the website contains directions to the park from North Carolina or Tennessee. The park stretches 71 miles across the crest of the Great Smokey Mountains, and contains over 600 miles of trails. There are many streams and waterfalls, as well as old Farmsteads and Grist Mills that have been preserved, more than 80 buildings in all. You can have leashed pets in developed areas and along roads, but not on the trails. The park is open 24 hours a day 365 days a year, but some secondary roads and trails are closed in winter. You can see a wide range of animals and plant life, including Elk, Deer, and others.
The park is the most visited National Park in the country for good reason. There is Bicycling, hiking, fishing, picnicking and even 4 stables where you can rent horses. They have workshops and ranger guided programs as well.
While in the area you should also go to Cherokee North Carolina, http://www.cherokee-nc.com/. Harrah’s Casino is probably the biggest attraction but there are also museums, fishing, tubing, kayaking, white water rafting and many other activities for the whole family. They have a lot of restaurants and hotels to choose from as well. They also have an island park in the Oconaluftee River, where kids can play in the water. They also have the Oconaluftee Indian Village where they have demonstrations of lots of Native American culture.
A short trip from Cherokee takes you into the famous Maggie Valley, check out their website at http://www.maggievalley.org/. They have many shops, restaurants and hotels, and some really great skiing in the winter.
If its mountain scenery you want, a short drive from Maggie Valley or Cherokee will take you to Bryson City, or Dillsborro and the Great Smokey Mountains Railway, see their site at http://www.gsmr.com/. You can ride the train on 53 miles of track through some really beautiful country. The track goes through 2 tunnels and has 25 bridges, and they have a wide variety of different types of packages. They have a Gourmet Dinner Train and a Mystery Train, see website for days and times. This railroad has been seen in many movies including “The Fugitive”
But nothing approaches the scenery you will see driving on the Blue Ridge Parkway in Western North Carolina, http://www.nps.gov/blri. The Parkway runs for 469 miles between Shenandoah (Virginia) and Great Smoky Mountains National Parks. There are many overlooks where you can park and check out the sites. There are also Ranger led programs during certain times of the year. For recorded park information, call (828) 298-0398 they have historical markers as well as general information on markers, at the overlooks. You can even see the real Cold Mountain from Charles Frazier’s book/movie Cold Mountain, from the parkway. Two of my favorite spots near the Parkway are Linville Falls and Linville Caverns, Http://www.linvillecaverns.com .The light hike into Linville Falls is well worth the time, to see the waterfalls. The Caverns once hid Civil War Soldiers, and has a bottomless lake. Part of the tour of the caverns includes, them cutting all the lights, off to show what total darkness is like.
I would also recommend visiting Ashville North Carolina Http://ashville.com/ . They have great dining, shopping and many other activities. The most famous being the Biltmore Estate Http://biltmore.com with its own shops and gardens to see and enjoy.
Well these are just some of the wonderful places in the Mountains of North Carolina, I hope you enjoy your visit, and that ya’ll come back and see us soon.