What to Do, Where to Go in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park
GETTING THERE: Great Smoky Mountains National Park is about 500 miles from Washington. Take Interstate 66 west to I-81 south, I-40 east, U.S. Route 321 south to Gatlinburg, then U.S. Route 441 south. By air: Airfare from Washington to Asheville, N.C. (about 65 miles from Cherokee), starts at about $208 round trip; to Knoxville, Tenn. (about 40 miles from Gatlinburg), about $226.
STAYING THERE: Two of 10 park campgrounds are open all year; none has showers. Four take reservations for May 15-Oct. 31; others are first come, first served. Fees are $14-$23 per night. Call 877-444-6777; http:/
LeConte Lodge (865-429-5704, http:/
For a list of surrounding communities with accommodations, see http:/
North of the park, lodging is plentiful in Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg; find rooms in the south in Cherokee and Maggie Valley.
We stayed in Gatlinburg at Rodeway Inn Skyland (223 E. Parkway, 800-255-8738, http:/
Cabin rentals are numerous in the Smokies; at Mountain Rentals of Gatlinburg (888-609-4654, http:/
EATING THERE: In the park, Cades Cove has a snack bar with breakfast and sandwiches. Surrounding communities have options from takeout to upscale.
In Gatlinburg, locals go to Mountain Lodge Restaurant (913 E. Parkway, 865-436-2547) for sourdough French toast and huge cinnamon rolls. At Smoky Mountain Brewery (1004 Parkway, 865-436-4200, http:/
In Cherokee, Peter's Pancakes and Waffles (1384 Tsali Blvd., 828-497-5116) serves belly-busting breakfasts. At Harrah's Cherokee Casino (77 Casino Dr., 828-497-8706 or 828-497-7777, http:/
TO DO IN THE PARK: Three visitor centers (Sugarlands, Oconaluftee and Cades Cove) are open daily except Christmas Day. A free brochure has a map with highlights; $1 auto-tour and hiking guides are available. More information: 865-436-1200, or http:/
Highlights include, in the north: Sugarlands Visitor Center's 20-minute film and natural history museum, and five-mile Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail's historic buildings. West: Cades Cove historic district, an 11-mile loop with churches, homes and a gristmill. Center: From Newfound Gap on the Tennessee-North Carolina border, hike to 6,643-foot Clingmans Dome. Catch a sunset at Morton Overlook. East: Cataloochee has old homesteads and elk. South: Oconaluftee Visitor Center, constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps, has a logging exhibit. Mountain Farm Museum & Mill is a collection of preserved log buildings.