No spring nor summer beauty hath such grace
As I have seen in one autumnal face. ~John Donne
I very much agree with the above lines by John Donne. Summer is almost over and autumn is approaching which is evident from the color changes in the foliage around us. I love Fall not just for it being cooler than summer but also for the vibrant changes of color which perpetuates all around. It seems all the green of the earth purges in the great furnace of nature and burst into a vivid radiance.
At this point I recall my first Fall experience in the US. Never before was I exposed to such explosion of red and orange and gold and yellow. It was an aesthetic experience for me to see this spectacular display of color in the Great Smoky Mountains national park.
The Smokey Mountains, an International Biosphere Reserve that straddles the border between Tennessee and North Carolina, is heaven for the nature lover and for people who just appreciate scenic drives, history and great views.
On 28th Oct 2010 we started for the Smoky Mountains national park from Chicago…a long 10 hrs drive. Though late for the season (fall starts from mid Sep), we started at around 5pm and drove for about 4 hrs. We halted in Indianapolis for the night at hotel Holiday inn. Next morning we started early and after a 7 1/2 hrs drive reached the famous Foothills parkway at almost 5 pm.
We drove through the breathtakingly beautiful Foothills Parkway scenic road located in the mountainous foothills of the Tennessee Valley, below and parallel to the Great Smoky Mountains. The experience through this mountain drive is one that I’ll cherish forever. The setting sun was playing along the rugged slopes displaying light and shadow all around. There are more than 100 types of trees in the park, mostly deciduous, that contribute to the splendor of tones and shades.
We were so lost in the scenic view that we went off our trail and got lost in the wilderness. The park is pretty large to say and to make matters worse, our gps too lost satellite connection. We wandered amidst the colorful trees feasting our eyes though a little tensed as it was getting dark. Fortunately a gentleman came along in his van and guided us out of the wilderness.
From there we drove to Gatlinburg, a mountain resort city in Sevier County, Tennessee, where we spent the night at Fairfield hotel. Nestled in the foothill of the Appalachian Mountains it provides the perfect setting for fall vacations. It boasts countless lodging, dining and entertainment options. Next day we went around this antic town and visited the various unique antic shops. We enjoyed the fabulous brush strokes of color by Mother Nature as we drove through the trails.
From here we drove through the Cades cove, a breathtakingly beautiful 11-mile loop road. It has a lot of history, old churches and old homestead’s and grist mill. We drove through the big circle and stopped at the pull offs to enjoy the glorious views of the mountains that surround the valley. This is the busiest part of the park and we had to follow the long trail of cars moving at snail’s pace.
Our next stop was at Clingmans Dome located on the border between Tennessee & North Carolina (near Newfound Gap . At 6,643 feet, Clingman’s Dome is the highest point in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Parking the car, we had to hike through a paved path for about a mile.The hike was slightly strenuous and I had to stop in between to catch my breath. There were benches for people like me to rest in between. I utilized my time to enjoy the view and taking some pictures.
From there we moved on to Pigeon forge and spent the night there. We passed through Dollywood but couldn’t view fall there due to lack of time.
My pictures do not do justice for I could not capture the awe inspiring beauty of the mountains. driving through the trails or hiking or biking are some of the ways to enjoy the fall foliage in the Smokies. Besides, there are innumerable activities for people of all ages to enjoy in this area. I wouldn’t miss another chance to visit the mounatins, specially during Fall.