Day 18 Atlanta Georgia to Great Smoky Mountains National Park

We left after a warm Atlanta Night. We drove to the nearest Publix Supermarket (they have nice food) to get supplies for lunch and dinner, and then headed to the REI for another sleeping bag. Our sleeping Bags have not been quite warm enough, and we need another good bushwalking grade warm sleeping bag, so we got one on special at REI.

We headed out the I-85 north towards North Carolina. The roads were excellent, with even what we thought would be rural areas having dual carriageways. It was another warm day 85F. We crossed from Georgia into North Carolina following the US-23. we joined the US 441 and reached Cherokee, on the edge of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, the most visited park in the whole of the USA. This is alson the start of the Blue Ridge Parkway.

We visted the Oconaluftee Visitor Centre and got some history of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The park are some of the highest peaks in the Appalachian Mountain Range. The Smoky Mountains park was creted in 1934 by buying land from existing farmers and loggers. Some of the money to buy the land came from a donation by John D Rockerfeller. We drove up the Newfound Gap road, and then west to Clingmans Dome, at 2024 metres. From the carpark you still had a steep climb of another 100 metres and 800 metres walk to the summit, which in the somewhat thinner air at that altitude, a little taxing.

The views from the lookout over the Smokies, was good, being pretty clear. We descended continuing along the Newfound gap road, and made our way to Elkmont campground. The campground (which has 260 campsites), was mostly empty, and we camped in a nice spot next to a stream. We had to pack the food into the boot of the car, as this is black bear country, and we have to be careful.

Judy at the Lookout on the Clingman dome

Smoky Mountains


Camped at Elkmont campground, Great Smoky Mountains National Park

3 comments to Day 18 Atlanta Georgia to Great Smoky Mountains National Park

  • fay

    Heck! Bears, Wow, hope they didn’t like tents.

  • Sally

    Grizzly bear or Yogi bear after your picnic basket !

    • Judy

      I think there were ‘only’ brown bears in that national park, Fay and Sal. Apparently they even go for toothpaste, and have learnt how to tell what is food by the packaging. When we were camping at Yosemite with the boys a few years ago, we watched this amazing video of a bear peeling a car door open from the top of its window, to get to the food inside the car.