If you've been following my blog for any length of time, you know that Doug and I love the Smoky Mountains in Tennessee. Since our first trip there in 1990, we have visited there, generally, once or twice a year, usually in the spring and fall. In recent years, we have most often stayed in a hotel in Pigeon Forge. Their spring and fall rates are very reasonable, making it hard to justify renting a cabin. However, we were able to get a very good rate on a cabin in April, making it possible for us to enjoy that luxury. The photo above is the view from the cabin's deck, in the late-day sun.
|Orange flowers growing on the mountainside above our cabin|
On this visit to the Smokies, for our first day's outing, we decided to drive the Newfound Gap Road up over the top of the mountains between Gatlinburg, Tennessee and Cherokee, North Carolina. It's a beautiful drive, with lots of scenic overlooks, and provides a good overview of the national park.
|View from Newfound Gap|
In southern Appalachian vernacular, a gap is a low point in a mountain ridge. New Englanders call such places “notches” while Westerners refer to them as mountain “passes.” At an elevation of 5,046 feet, Newfound Gap is the lowest drivable pass through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
The old road over the Smoky Mountains crossed at Indian Gap, located about a mile and a half west of the current site. When the lower, easier crossing was discovered, it became known as the “newfound” gap.
|View from Clingmans Dome Parking Area|
Just south of Newfound Gap, the seven-mile Clingmans Dome Road climbs to within a half-mile of Clingmans Dome, the highest peak in the Smokies at 6,643 feet. From the parking area at the end of the road, a half-mile trail climbs steeply to an observation tower. It's a difficult walk for us flatlanders from Indiana, living at an elevation of about 750 feet. We've done it in the past, but there are other things we'd rather do these days.
|Artists attempting to capture a great view on canvas|
|A closer look at one of the paintings|
|I don't know what they are, but they're pretty.|
Mingus Mill is located a half-mile north of the Oconaluftee Visitor Center, on the North Carolina side of the Smokies. Built in 1886, this historic grist mill uses a water-powered turbine instead of a water wheel to power all of the machinery in the building. Water flows down a millrace to the mill, which has a working cast iron turbine. A miller demonstrates the process of grinding corn into cornmeal, and cornmeal and other mill-related items are available for purchase at the mill. Located at its original site, Mingus Mill stands as a tribute to the test of time.