Nov 1, 2009

The Great Smokies

Touching the skies

Thursday 10/29/2009 - We stopped for the night in a hidden campground on the Blue Ridge Parkways, still in VA. It is called 'Middle Creek Campground' in Buchanan, VA. This time we used GPS to navigate to the site and it took us right there. This campground is not in the middle of nowhere, and it is crowded there, it is way to the side. The owner waited for us and opened the store when we arrived. We really did not use much of the facilities there, as early next morning we were on our way again to the Smokies...

So Where are we going?

It is always a challenge to find the next campground. Since we don’t know for sure how long we are going to stay at every place, we choose the next stop just a day or two before we move. Since this is winter time we do not have a problem with full campground, but finding the right one is not so easy.
There are many websites out there that try to rate and rank those campgrounds, but different people love different things and have different priorities. Here is what we are looking for:
  • It must have internet. We have to work…
  • It must accept pets (Moe, our boxer is with us)
  • Can’t be too crowded – we hate ‘Tin Cities’.
  • Must be close to nature attractions
Thing is, we hate going to a campground and squeeze between 2 other RV’s on a parking lot. We feel we are camping in WAL-MART parking lot (which BTW they allow that).
So We go to all those directories Like Woodalls, Good Sam, Passport America and others. we than try to find a website with pictures to see how bad it is. Sometimes we use Google Maps or Street & Trips to locate the campground on a map. Most campgrounds still do not provide online reservation, so once we found our campground of choice we call and make the reservation.
It still takes us 2-3 hours to research and choose the right place. not an easy task!

Camping in Tourist Land

Friday 10/30/2009 - After browsing through tens of campgrounds in the area, we chose one that seem to be small enough and reasonably prices.
We camped our RV in Ripplin' waters, in Sevierville, TN a small town not so far from the park entrance (about 20 miles). The campground was reasonably priced and had very clean restrooms, although a little far from the RV parking area.
As soon as we took the ramp of the hwy, it was clear we are in aSmokeyMountains 005 tourist-land. and considering all the activity around - I can promise you that you will not run of things to do for the whole family for weeks...
Billboards announcing Dinner theatres, Magic shows, restaurants and lodging are all around. Lots of Pancakes and Cracker Barrel around... (did I mention that Dolly Parton grew up here?)
We arrived to the camp on Thursday 10/29 and we planned to stay there for a week or so.
Saturday 10/31/2009 - We decided to spend Halloween night in one of the shows in town, and chose Black Bear Jamboree, Dinner and a Show. The dinner part was not the best... but the show was great. I would eat before I go there, and just watch the show - worth every cent.

The most visited Park in the US

Sunday 11/1/2009 - Not sure if you know, but the great smoky mountains NP is the most visited park in the US. Over 9 Million people in 2008!!! We attempted to visit the park on a Sunday, and got almost to the entrance, but turned right back after we realized that it is going to be traffic jam all the way.
Monday 11/2/2009 - We came back the next day, and since we drove on the top of the mountains in the last couple days, we decided to take the valleys in the park, and I think we did the right decision. We drove through little river road all the way to Cades Cove Loop - a 200 year old town.

View Larger Map
GreatSmokeyMountains 043 We loved the drive by the river, while watching the games of sun and shade as we drove through the curves. The weather was wonderful, and the colors of fall were still around.
At one of the curves we stopped to take some pictures of GreatSmokeyMountains 080the river and saw a guy in a kayak trying to pass through a small fall. Minutes  later the poor guy found himself swimming in the cold water looking for his boat and oar (he lost that one).
Even tough it was a weekday in November, we still drove in traffic even at 7:00pm. No doubt - this is the most visited park in the US!

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