Smoky Mountains or White Mountains?

Old Jan 23rd, 2006, 04:05 AM
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Smoky Mountains or White Mountains?

I am planning on taking a trip to a mountain destination in the east this summer in early-mid august. I have narrowed my choices down to a trip to the white mountains of NH and Acadia National Park,ME or Smokey Mountains National Park,TN and some Western North Carolina attractions like asheville and the Blue Ridge Parkway/grandfather mountain. I am leaning towards the Smokies. The smokies is a shorter and less congested,more rural drive than up to NH and Maine. I can drive to the smokies and get there in eight hours. The smokies are some of the highest mountains in the eastern us and are the tallest. While the white mountains is 11 hours. And if I were to go straight to Acadia, it is more like 14 hours, which would have to be split into two days. Which one do you perfer and reccomend? How is the scenery different? What is the difference in weather between the two places? I heard the smokies is hot, but it gets very cool in the higher elevations.
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Old Jan 23rd, 2006, 06:08 AM
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For me, the deal-breaker would be the weather. Hot, indeed in Tennessee that time of year - even tho, when you are higher up, it is bound to be cooler. But at lower elevations, the heat at that time of the year in that locale is just too much to take - enervating. Unless you are someone who isn't particularly bothered by hot weather, I'd say - head north.
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Old Jan 23rd, 2006, 06:36 AM
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asdaven, we hiked in both and spent many summers in White Mountains of New Hampshire. I am sorry to disagree with you but I think you got this wrong when you said Smokey Mountains NP is less congested, more rural drive than up to NH. First, Smoky is the most visited National Park in this country with over 9 million visitors per year and it is, unfortunately, most polutted national park. White Mountains National Forest may be crowded during July and August but only around Mount Washington and Pincham (? spelling) Notch. There are so many gorgeous spots and you can get to them on more rural roads (use route 2). Smoky too have incredible views but this place is so congested during summer months that it takes time to get into and out of the park. This is of course MHO. People visit both places and they both are beautiful. For less congested and better air quality I would chose White Mountains National Forest. Also White Mountains have cooler weather. Have fun visiting Smoky National Park or White Mountains National Forest. Did you know that and you can sometimes ski in July in Takermann Ravine from Mount Washington?
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Old Jan 23rd, 2006, 08:46 AM
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I think you might have more options with the White Moutains and then a trip over to Acadia and the ocean would only be a couple of hours. Maybe do that during the middle of your trip? The White Mountains aren't that far from NH's lakes region which will be pretty busy with tourists, esp around Meredith but there are some quieter areas. We love the Sandwich area, for example. You have a couple of summer theaters in the area Tamworth and up in Whitefield. You could easily slip over into VT. And, yes, I remember one June heading over to Bangor via the Conway area and wondering why so many people were parked by the road. They were skiing Tuckerman's. If you want to avoid some traffic, we take Rt 91 from CT up to VT and then cut over to NH in Brattleboro/Keene. You could go further north since you are headed for the mountains. This eliminates the Rt 495/95 or 93 traffic and is a quicker drive. Rt 91 goes up the VT/NH border. And you can get lobster rolls in both NH and Maine!!!
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Old Jan 23rd, 2006, 01:51 PM
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Pat2003- I was meaning the drive to the smokies is less congested from my house. Once you get there, yes it is congested. Heading up north involves traveling up the I-95 cordor, which is very congested. Which place is better as far as rain? Which place has better scenery? Aren't the smokey mountains taller mountains?
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Old Jan 24th, 2006, 01:24 AM
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asdaven, where are driving from and how much time will you have? It may not be necessary to take I-95. I too try to avoid this route.
Mt. Mitchell 6288 ft
Mt. Washington 6684 ft
Clingman in Smokies 6643 ft
Are you trying to visit the highest places?
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Old Jan 24th, 2006, 08:38 AM
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Please be aware that if you do decide on the White Mountains, that there is a bike week at Laconia, NH in June (10-18) so if you decide to go at that time,there will be alot of motorcycles on the road (I will be one of them). Personally, I'd rather go to the White Mountains in the fall, with the leaves changing, and the Smoky Moutnains to me are absolutley beautiful
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Old Jan 24th, 2006, 11:05 AM
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I am traveling from Maryland. I have visited the national parks out west and this year I want to visit one of the national parks in the east. I have already been to Shenandoah NP many times, it is right down the road from me, about 2 hours. I live in the DC area. If I go north, the White Mountains will just be a long 2-3 day stopping point. then, I would go to Acadia NP and spend a week. I would have to have a little more time for that. For the smokies, I would spend a week a great smokey mountains NP/Gatlinburg and a day or two in Asheville,NC.
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Old Jan 24th, 2006, 02:45 PM
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OK, a disclaimer - I was born and live in Asheville, NC.

Like most national parks, if you avoid the popular routes, the Smokies are not crowded. Likewise, the Blue Ridge Parkway sees most of the crowds on the weekends.

What do you hope to do once you arrive at the Smokies or White Mountains?

Mike Honeycutt
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Old Jan 25th, 2006, 11:18 AM
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Mostly hiking and driving through the park and taking pictures at overlooks. Also, maybe a horseback ride if there is place that offers trail rides in the park. If I went up to the white mountains, they would not be my main place, acadia would. But, I would stop and sightsee for a couple of days in the white mountains and maybe some hiking. But, If I go to the smokies, then smokey mountains national park will be the main place. But, also checking out areas of western nc. If I go up north, I like to go the Tappin Zee Bridge from the New Jersey Turnpike and not through New York,NY, last time I went up that way, I took I-95 through Rhode Island. But, a friend of mine say's to go up through Hartford,CT and take I495 around Boston, not I-95. Is this a good way? If I go to the smokies, I just hop on I-70 to Route 340, then to Route 7, then to I-81, then hop off and drive into gatlinburg.
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Old Jan 26th, 2006, 05:05 AM
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I think that for a shorter drive and for more incredible scenic overlooks I would chose Smoky Mountains. For the most dramatic views drive to Asheville from Great Smoky NP on Blue Ridge Parkway. Both places, Great Smokey and White Mountains, will be crowded around certain area in mid-August. I agree with Mike that if you avoid the popular routes, the Smokies are not crowded. The same goes for White Mountains. If your primary reason to visit Maine and New Hampshire is to go to Acadia NP then keep in mind it is a long drive from White Mountains. If you ever decide to visit White Mountains go in the beginning to mid- October. If you ever decide to visit Smokey Mountains for fall foliage be prepared for crowds. Whatever is your decisssion both places are beautiful with endless hiking opportunities.
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Old Jan 27th, 2006, 10:56 AM
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The thing that I am worried about is that the smokies are going to be real poluted that time of year and will not be able to hike. Is Acadia or the White Mountains better? I like the idea of acadia because there are cliffs. But, the smokies have much higher/taller mountains than Acadia and are a little bit taller than the white mountains.
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Old Jan 27th, 2006, 12:30 PM
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During mid-late summer, when the humidity is up, there tends to be more haze in the Smokies. I don't think that this would keep you from hiking, but the views are not as spectacular when it's hazy.
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Old Jan 28th, 2006, 07:06 AM
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Does it get hazy or foggy up in the white mountains or acadia this time of year? I drove through the white mountains one time and it was foggy and rainy like. But, this was early june, more spring. I just drove through and didin't see much. And Acadia I have not see yet. The farthest I got up the maine coast was Rockland,ME. But, I did drive though the white mountains and got to Darmoscotta in one day where I was staying, about 140 miles from Acadia.
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Old Jan 29th, 2006, 02:45 PM
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Is the smokies real bad in august as far as the weather?
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Old Jan 29th, 2006, 05:04 PM
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I've been to all these areas you're thinking about and have visited all over summer months. All these areas will be relatively "busy" simply because it's the summer and a high tourist season. One is not better than the other; each is different and beautiful in their own way.

I think you'll have a great vacation with either choice, so don't obsess too much ... just pick one. I would go with the Smokies. I don't recall that the heat was unbearable. I recall it being rather pleasant most of the time; cooler at higher elevations and much hotter in the valleys of course. We did run into some fog here and there, which affects the views. (That's why they call them the "Smokies"). We stayed at the Cataloochee Ranch in Maggie Valley on the North Carolina side of the park. They have trail rides up into the mountains. It was a really memorable vacation for us.
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Old Jan 30th, 2006, 03:04 AM
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Cher is right, just pick one place. If you chose White Mountains and Acadia try to avoid I-95.
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Old Jan 30th, 2006, 07:44 AM
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Hi. I live in Knoxville and frequently visit the Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge area, so thought I'd add that the local schools are back in session the second week in August making it a good time to visit. It's very hot in August so spending time in Dollywood is uncomfortable although spending time in the forests is pleasant. There are many, many places to stay; we always rent cabins. The best view is of Mt. LeConte. Unfortunately in August, since many of the view cabins don't have many surrounding trees to protect you from the heat, I would look for a cabin with lots of tree cover, especially if you like to spend time on the deck. There are lots of really fabulous places to stay. Cobbly Nob is nice since some of the cabins have the view and the tree cover.

My favorite Smokies vacation was in a place called Topton, NC. It was lakefront and secluded. We went in mid-July, very hot and humid in Knoxville, and found Topton nice and cool in temperature. We wore light jackets in the early evening and mornings. It's a lovely place with fabulous views. Depends on what kind of vacation you want. If interested, google topton with vrbo.

If you have further questions about the area, I'll keep an eye on the forum since we have been many places locally. We've also been to Asheville and stayed at the Grove Park Inn, which was fabulous.
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Old Jan 30th, 2006, 01:55 PM
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Does it cool at night in Gatlinburg? Also, if I go to the smokies, I am going to spend most of my time in the park hiking not at dollywood. Maybe a day trip from there to Asheville and the Biltmore Estate and I might drive home the Blue Ridge Parkway. I am leaning more towards the smokies. I like the drive better, even if I were to go up north and avoid 95.
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Old Jan 30th, 2006, 04:00 PM
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In the park, during the day you can expect 80's at the higher elevations. Expect 60's at night. The most spectacular scenery is on the Blue Ridge Pkwy north of Asheville. South from Asheville, there are a number of beautiful lakes like Nantahala, Fontana and Santeelah.
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