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Where to stay around Great Smokey Mountains National Park

Where to stay around Great Smokey Mountains National Park

Jan 17th, 2006, 11:02 AM
  #1  
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Where to stay around Great Smokey Mountains National Park

Where the best place to stay around Great Smokey Mountains? How far is asheville from there, since I want to see the biltmore and some other attractions like chimney rock, grandfather mountain, and Mt. Mitchal, since it is the highest mt in the east? I have heard gatlinburg is a good place to stay. I want to make somewhere close to the park my base camp and that is not too far from I-81/I-40 which is the way I will be coming. I also am bringing dogs. I understand there are only a couple trails in the park that allow pets on them. Which ones are they? Are they any good state parks or national forest land around that have pet-friendly trails? What is the weather like in mid-august? I will be spending most of my time up in the mountains where I understand it is colder. What are the views like? Is there a lot of humidity? Does it rain a lot? The weather is my biggest concern.
asdaven is offline  
Jan 17th, 2006, 11:15 AM
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Be prepared for Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge to be the most overbuilt, ticky tacky places you've ever seen. We're talking Tractor Pull Museums for MILES! They are truly my idea of hell. Cherokee, on the N.C. side, is smaller, but still very touristy--with very little charm to be found. Still, if you're looking for proximity to the park--which, by the way, is quite beautiful--these are your choices. Perhaps someone can recommend some less awful places within a short drive of the park.
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Jan 17th, 2006, 11:17 AM
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Asheville is a nice city, but not very close to the park--quite a drive if I remember correctly. It would be a whole separate destination on this trip.
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Jan 17th, 2006, 12:17 PM
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We stayed outside of Gatlinburg this New Year's and the area is not as bad as people say. We spent several days in the park, and there is a bypass that allows you to skip all the Gatlinburg traffic and leads you directly into the park. And while Gatlinburg is the typical tourist town that gets built up around an attraction, it does provide places to eat and other distractions.

The park is gorgeous and the views breathtaking. We didn't make it to Cades Cove for lack of time, although I understand it is the nicest loop in the park. The view at the top of Newfoundland Gap road is worth the ride, and there is a very nice picnic area called Chimney or something like that next to a river that is great for relaxing. It doesn't have bathrooms, though, at least not in December. I-40, depending on where you are coming from, can make you go through Sevierville and all of the Gatlinburg traffic in one exit, or, if you take it further east, you skip all that traffic. I would recommend, if you want to stay outside of Gatlinburg, but in the vicinity, look for something east of Gatlinburg off of I-40 so that you can take the bypass. We also loved the Foothills Parkway.

My parents went to Ashville while there and it took them about 1.5 hours to get there.
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Jan 17th, 2006, 01:16 PM
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If you don't mind tourist kitsch, then Gatlinburg isn't that bad. As someone already said, it does provide places to eat, etc. What I hate worse than the tackiness is the traffic. It can take forever to move half a mile, especially in the summer. I recommend staying over in Townsend, TN. It is much quieter than the PF/Gatlinburg side of the park, plus it is just minutes away from the Cades Cove entrance to the park.

Asheville is not as close to the park as it would seem, although, you could investigate places to stay on the NC side of the GSMNP that might put you closer to Asheville and its attractions.

That said, depending on how long you will be there, you could find enough for two trips with the places you have listed. I could easily spend 3-4 days in the Asheville area, exploring and eating, and the GSMNP is just beautiful and full of lovely trails and views.
Happy planning!
BetsyinKY is offline  
Jan 17th, 2006, 05:02 PM
  #6  
maj
 
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I had the same question concerning dogs on trails. I don't know of any trails in the park itself that allow dogs. I think they are allowed on the most of the trails on the Blue Ridge Parkway and in other North Carolina areas. I had asked specifically about Linville Falls and got an answer that they saw dogs on the trail, but didn't know if they were really allowed there. Check out the following sites for park/hotel information.

http://www.dogfriendly.com/
http://www.petswelcome.com/
http://www.petfriendlyhotelsandtravel.com/

I would guess that mid August would be hot and dry. And very crowded -- if you can, go during the week and avoid the weekends. This is also just a guess, and not knowing how long you are planning on staying, I think you would be better off staying around the Asheville area with the dogs (especially since you want to see chimney rock etc. -- check out their individual web sites to see if dogs are allowed there) and maybe take a day trip to drive through the GSMNP. I know people have taken dogs to the Gatlinburg area, but they didn't hike.
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Jan 17th, 2006, 05:59 PM
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It's been quite some time since I visited that area, but when we explored Smokey Mtn Nat'l Park we stayed for a few days on the NC side at a horseback riding ranch in Maggie Valley and a few days on the TN side in Gatlinburg. I would not recommend staying in Cherokee. We didn't care for Gatlinburg ... cute town, but too touristy. If we go back, we'd stay in Townsend on the TN side; good base and good access to the Cades Cove area.
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Jan 18th, 2006, 10:28 AM
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I am planning on spending a week. I am coming from Maryland which is getting on southbound I-81 through Virginia. Then, when that links up with I-40, I don't know wheather to go east or west on I-40. I am talking about getting to gatlinburg If I go west, I would take route 66 off I-40 through Sevierville, hooking up with 441 and going through Pigeon Forge and into Gatlinburg. This is the way I went before and was congested. I remember traffic and people bungee jumping. I have been there before but barely remember it, it has been so long ago. But, I think there is another way if you go east on I-40, and get off on some road and head west. I have not been that way, but would it be less congested, since that is not the main approch toward Gatlinburg? I don't like tourist traps, but I do like a big town with a lot of restaurants to choose from. I think there are cabin rentals, so you are not staying right in town, but only 5 minutes from Gatlinburg. I would like to find a place like that, that is in the woods and is quiet, but I would like to be within 5 minutes drive of Gatlinburg and the park. Gatlinburg is the only big town around except for Asheville, which is a city. I would like to be close to Newfound Gap Road also. Would you think I would fine if I stayed outside of town at a cabin rental, but come into town to eat? I don't plan on staying in town. Are the views in the mountains real hazy in august? Is it dry in august? What are the waterfalls in the park like that time of year? Are they dry or is there a lot water going over them? If asheville is only a half hour that isn't that bad. Do you take I-40 to get there? I don't know if i'll get to see grandfather mountain or chimney rock, but I do want to get to asheville and see the biltmore.
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Jan 18th, 2006, 10:57 AM
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It is very feasible to stay close to Gatlinburg, in the mountains, feeling away from it all, but within 10 minutes of the Gatlinburg action. Getting off at I-40 Exit 443, going through the Foothills Parkway and joining up with 321 avoids all the Gatlinburg traffic. We know because we first exited at the Sevierville exit, and u-turned out of there after sitting without moving for 20 minutes in traffic. Our cabin was east of Gatlinburg. The by-pass, accessible from the east, leads you directly into Newfoundland Gap Road without having to sit in any of the Gatlinburg traffic. Plus, there are side roads on this same side of Gatlinburg that deposit you in the middle of Gatlinburg at a parking garage so you barely sit in traffic. If you do stay in the area, it is very important to get a good local map showing all the alternate routes you can take to get places quicker and easier.

amcc is offline  
Jan 18th, 2006, 01:12 PM
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I have seen traffic backed up from I-40 to Sevierville, then it really gets bad as you get closer to the Park. G'Berg and P'Forge on the TN side of the park are a Zoo. I would suggest the NC side not as bad from that stand point. The Cherokee and the Maggie Valley area is much nicer. It is also closer to Asheville since that is one of your destinations. We came across the GSMNP just before Christmas, snow on top. Traffic backed for a mile or more going into G'berg from the Park.... I cannot help you with the dogs, they will however hamper your movement and the options for lodging.
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Jan 18th, 2006, 02:59 PM
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In August, the weather will mostly likely be quite warm (mid-upper 80's) in the Gatlinberg area and cooler in the higher elevations. August is usually relatively dry, in terms of rainfall, but it will also be fairly humid, which may cause the mountains to be hazy. Also, I think you are looking at more than a half hour to Asheville from the Gatlinberg area.
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Jan 18th, 2006, 04:38 PM
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Last Oct. we stayed at the Folkestone Inn in Bryson City, NC. It was a wonderful place to stay with delicious breakfast. Bryson City has some good places to eat and is close enough to Ashville for day trips. Check it out at www.folkestoneinn.com
Gatlinburg is an awful tourist trap, so, unless you like that kind of place, avoid it.
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Jan 18th, 2006, 05:13 PM
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maj
 
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The fullness of the waterfalls depends on the weather (as elsewhere). Although I wouldn't say it is as drastic a change as at, for example, Yosemite, we did hike to Rainbow Falls in October one year and the waterfall was virtually non existant. I would think most of the larger ones, such as Abrams Falls would still have a pretty good flow year round. Although I love the Smokey Mountains, we have never been there when it hasn't been hazy. It has gotten worse over the years (I think they say it is due to pollution).
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Jan 19th, 2006, 09:51 AM
  #14  
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I really want to stay around Gatlinburg. amcc, that is a good suggestion to use the side roads, that is what i'll do and use the bypass to get into the park. How much longer in distance is the way off I-40 by taking exit 443, than taking the way through sevierville? I don't want to take it if it ends up taking a lot longer than siting in the traffic. But, it looks like a more scenic way too, following the edge of the mountains. Is there a lot of traffic once you get in the park or is the all the traffic just to get to gatlinburg? I could imagine that traffic wouldn't be as bad in the middle of a week or late at night or early in the morning. Asheville is an hour and a half not an half hour. Is gatlinburg as humid that time of year as like a place like florida? I could imagine it is not too humid since it is the mountains and is pretty far inland from the ocean. Are there afternoon thunderstorms? Maybe they clear out the humidity and heat. But it is pretty dry this time of year? Are the trails muddy? GSMNP is my main destination, asheville would only be a day trip.
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Jan 19th, 2006, 10:40 AM
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http://www.nps.gov/grsm/index.htm

This should answer a good number of your questions about the park.

If you are set with G'burg as a base then by all means take US-321 off I-40. The TN side of the Park can be hotter and more humid than the NC side.
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Jan 20th, 2006, 08:36 AM
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There are three exits off interstate 40 that look good. There is exit 435 (Route 32) that goes south and hooks up with 321, Exit 440 (Route 73) which also hooks up with 321 and Exit 443 which is 339 (The Foothills Parkway) that hooks with 321. Which one is the fastest? Does this way add on a lot more miles than going through Sevierville? Is it scenic? Do you end up saving a lot of time going that way? And there is no traffic that way? Also, to get to I-40 east, should I just take I-81 south to the interchange and east on I-40 or should I take Route 25E to I-40 and then getting off at one of those exits? Route 25E cuts off a corner, but you probably have stoplights on it and the interstate is faster and is non-stop.
Thanks-
asdaven is offline  
Jan 20th, 2006, 01:33 PM
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Take it easy, you are going on vacation. If you want the easest driving take I-40 and work your way to US-321/Sr-73 your choice as to what exit, but I would suggest 440. That close to your destination its time slow down and start to enjoy yourselves... This approach to G'burg is easier on the driver, its 2 lane road skirting the mtns. This way is a lot less of a hassle than taking I-40 and then 66 to S'vile. US-321 will bring you into the town.
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Jan 20th, 2006, 01:57 PM
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Gatlinburg is about 8-8 1/2 hours from my house in maryland by interstate. I might drive it all in one day. About 520 miles. Is taking Route 321 a lot longer way or is it just a little bit longer than the way though sevierville. Anotherwards, even if there wasn't traffic in sevierville, is it that much longer of a way? I just don't want to arrive there when it is dark, I'd rather arrive in the afternoon. Will taking 321 shread off some time than sitting in the traffic? After I get there, I am there a week to relax with maybe a day trip to Asheville.
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Jan 20th, 2006, 06:17 PM
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Please, check your maps as to the number of miles difference. No one can forsee the future as far as traffic and the WX, first where will you be staying. Even something as simple as that can make a difference in the time it takes to get to a destination. Your destination will be the hotel/motel/or wherever you will be staying, your other activies will come a little later. If you are worried about arriving in the dark and driving all day, either leave very early or plan on a stop somewhere south and west of Roanoke, get up the next morning and arrive refreshed. You sound like you do need a vacation. Maryland is not all that far, I lived there for many years, in the Baltimore area and in Frederick and drove to the Bristol TN area many many times. Where you are headed is just down the road.
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Jan 21st, 2006, 03:50 AM
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Okay,so you do know the baltimore area. I live between Baltimore and Washington DC. If I get directions though Mapquest or my map software it routes me down I-95 to I-495 West, to I-66 West, and then I-81 South. But, I like to avoid the Washington Beltway and I-66 (very congested). I will probably go I-70 out to frederick, then Route 340 west though Harpers Ferry and Charlestown,WV, to Route 7 West in Berryville,Va, then I-81 south. Would Natural Bridge be a good stop? It is not south of Roanoke, but I have always wanted to see it. What is I-81 like as far as scenery and traffic? One map program routed me down I-95 to Richmond,VA, to I-85 south, then I-40 west. But, I doubt this is the best way. I don't know what any of those interstates is like, but I know the drive from my house to richmond is horrible and congested. So, I will probably stick to I-81. As far as where I will be staying, it will be somewhere around gatlinburg. When, you went the 321 way, did it seem much longer than though Sevierville or much shorter? Is route 321 a pretty fast road (55 mph)? Does it go through the mountains or along the base?
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