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Getting Close To Nature At The Smoky Mountains

Jun 5, 2008
The United States offers dozens of National Parks, but the most popular of all of these is the Great Smoky Mountains located in the states of Tennessee and North Carolina. Both in and around the park, visitors can find plenty to do when they visit the Great Smoky Mountains area.

Gatlinburg, Tennessee

Gatlinburg, Tennessee is one of the most popular cities to visit when vacationing in the Smoky Mountains. Here, vacationers can rent gorgeous cabins located on the mountains. In addition to the nearby trails and natural sites, tourists can enjoy visiting a number of fun and interesting museums and other attractions.

The Ripley's Believe it or Not Aquarium is one must-see attraction located in Gatlinburg. In addition to its interactive exhibits that are fun for kids of all ages, the aquarium offers an up close and personal look at many different sea creatures. One of the most prized features of this aquarium is the shark tank, which is a shaped as a tunnel through which visitors can pass as they watch sharks swim around them. Other sites in Gatlinburg include the Ripley's Believe it or Not Museum and the Guinness Book of World Records Museum.

Pigeon Forge, Tennessee

Pigeon Forge, Tennessee also offers a number of different tourist attractions, but is best known for its dinner shows and shopping opportunities. Just as with Gatlinburg, amazing cabin rentals are available in Pigeon Forge. For visitors looking for thrilling rides combined with down home charm, Dollywood can also be found in Pigeon Forge. Often compared to Disney World and referred to as a smaller version of the popular theme park, Dollywood offers a number of different rides and shows.

Townsend, Tennessee

Often referred to as the "Peaceful side of the Smokies," Townsend, Tennessee offers gorgeous mountain views as well as more cabins in which vacationers can stay. Townsend is vastly different from Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, as Townsend has a quiet, small town appeal that cannot be found in Gatlinburg or Pigeon Forge. In addition, Townsend is the gateway town to one of the most famous parts of the Smoky Mountain National Park - Cades Cove.

Cades Cove is an 11 mile loop road that takes tourists through stunning mountain vistas and close encounters with wildlife. Spotting deer is common when traveling through Cades Cove, though seeing black bears has also been known to happen. The loop also offers several pull offs, many of which include trail heads to historical Appalachian buildings such as cabins, churches, and barns. One of the most popular pull offs is the trail head to Abrams Falls, which is a 2.5 mile long trail leading to a 20 foot tall waterfall.

Little River Road

Little River Road is a must-see for any Smoky Mountain visitor as it offers many scenic views of the river, which runs alongside the road, as well as more opportunities to view stunning waterfalls and other natural sites. Even better, the road can be used to travel from Pigeon Forge to Townsend or from Gatlinburg to Townsend. Therefore, a trip down this road only serves to help with visiting all of the towns the Smoky Mountains have to offer.

One of the most popular trails in the Smoky Mountains, Laurel Falls, can be found alongside Little River Road. Parking can be difficult to find here, so it is a good idea to get there early in the morning in order to avoid the rush. This 1.3 mile long trail is paved and leads to a 75 foot waterfall.

The Sinks are also found along Little River Road, and visitors do not have to walk a trail in order to get there. A combination of deep pools and hydraulic rapids, The Sinks is a popular swimming hole despite warnings that it is not particularly safe to swim in the rushing waters filled with boulders. Even for those not looking for a refreshing dip, The Sinks is quite a marvel to see.
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