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Great Smoky Mountains National Park with Lee and Matt

Laurel Falls; Lee and Matt wanted to visit Great Smoky Mountains National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the most visited US national park (12.5 million in 2019)

Laurel Falls; Lee and Matt wanted to visit Great Smoky Mountains National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the most visited US national park (12.5 million in 2019)

At nearly 80 feet, Rainbow Falls is the longest plunge of water in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park; the 5.4 mile trail on the slopes of Mt. LeConte is just minutes away from downtown Gatlinburg

At nearly 80 feet, Rainbow Falls is the longest plunge of water in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park; the 5.4 mile trail on the slopes of Mt. LeConte is just minutes away from downtown Gatlinburg

Abrams Falls is one of the most voluminous waterfalls in Great Smoky Mountains National Park with one of the largest natural pools in the area at its base

Abrams Falls is one of the most voluminous waterfalls in Great Smoky Mountains National Park with one of the largest natural pools in the area at its base

I had not seen Matt since last year and Lee since Bali in February so it was great to spend a couple of days catching up; Gatlinburg is roughly 4 hrs from both Atlanta and Greensboro

I had not seen Matt since last year and Lee since Bali in February so it was great to spend a couple of days catching up; Gatlinburg is roughly 4 hrs from both Atlanta and Greensboro

There are 1500  black bears in the park and we had hoped to see one but left disappointed; Lee and Matt did see some of the elk herd on their drive from Cherokee, NC to Gatlinburg

There are 1500+ black bears in the park and we had hoped to see one but left disappointed; Lee and Matt did see some of the elk herd on their drive from Cherokee, NC to Gatlinburg

Cades Cove is the single most popular destination within the national park attracting 2  million visitors a year to its 11 mile, one way road lined with well preserved historic buildings, scenic mountain views and abundant wildlife

Cades Cove is the single most popular destination within the national park attracting 2+ million visitors a year to its 11 mile, one way road lined with well preserved historic buildings, scenic mountain views and abundant wildlife

Built in 1856, the Dan Lawson Place in Cades Cove is unusual because of its brick chimney which was a rarity in the area at the time; the area post office was housed on the front porch

Built in 1856, the Dan Lawson Place in Cades Cove is unusual because of its brick chimney which was a rarity in the area at the time; the area post office was housed on the front porch

Lee and Matt enjoyed escaping Atlanta for a few days; despite the pandemic, the campgrounds and hotels around Gatlinburg were generally full; we opted not to mingle with the crowds at Dollywood

Lee and Matt enjoyed escaping Atlanta for a few days; despite the pandemic, the campgrounds and hotels around Gatlinburg were generally full; we opted not to mingle with the crowds at Dollywood

The clear waters of 60 mile long Little River start on the slope of Clingman's Dome, the highest point in Tennessee, and eventually feed into the Tennessee River near Knoxville

The clear waters of 60 mile long Little River start on the slope of Clingman's Dome, the highest point in Tennessee, and eventually feed into the Tennessee River near Knoxville

The Little River near Townsend, TN was packed with tourists paying $20 to float a couple of miles; the water was generally quite shallow so that you occasionally hit bottom

The Little River near Townsend, TN was packed with tourists paying $20 to float a couple of miles; the water was generally quite shallow so that you occasionally hit bottom

The hikes we did, including to 80 ft high Laurel Falls, were all pretty easy with plenty of shade; rhododendrons were abundant so the area would be gorgeous when they bloom in May and June

The hikes we did, including to 80 ft high Laurel Falls, were all pretty easy with plenty of shade; rhododendrons were abundant so the area would be gorgeous when they bloom in May and June

With Matt resuming teaching next month (albeit virtually), Lee and I will fly out West to hike the most popular national parks in the Rockies; our route will start in Missoula, MT and end in Durango, CO

With Matt resuming teaching next month (albeit virtually), Lee and I will fly out West to hike the most popular national parks in the Rockies; our route will start in Missoula, MT and end in Durango, CO

Grotto Falls; the park has 850  miles of hiking trails, including 70 miles of the Appalachian Trail, but they were still crowded even during the middle of the week

Grotto Falls; the park has 850+ miles of hiking trails, including 70 miles of the Appalachian Trail, but they were still crowded even during the middle of the week

Grotto Falls; a glance at the license plates showed that many visitors traveled from the Midwest or Northeast to see the park; unlike the rest of TN, Sevier County has a mask mandate for indoor spaces

Grotto Falls; a glance at the license plates showed that many visitors traveled from the Midwest or Northeast to see the park; unlike the rest of TN, Sevier County has a mask mandate for indoor spaces

Lee and Matt are admiring the strength of Abrams Falls while I went for a swim; it wasn't hot but with the humidity I was dripping wet so the water was very refreshing

Lee and Matt are admiring the strength of Abrams Falls while I went for a swim; it wasn't hot but with the humidity I was dripping wet so the water was very refreshing

The town of Gatlinburg is full of tacky, touristy spots like Ripley's Believe It or Not with nearby Pigeon Forge, home of Dollywood, having practically every chain restaurant in America; pancake houses are especially popular

The town of Gatlinburg is full of tacky, touristy spots like Ripley's Believe It or Not with nearby Pigeon Forge, home of Dollywood, having practically every chain restaurant in America; pancake houses are especially popular

Posted by VagabondCowboy 03:58

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