Great Smoky Mountain National Park

Sandy and I never get tired of visiting our closest national park, but this past weekend was special.  We were playing tour guides and introducing the park to her brother and his girlfriend . . . and we only had a day and a half!  What to see?  On Saturday, we toured the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail for a short hike to Grotto Falls and numerous stops along the creek and to see the old settlements.  After a trip up the gondola to Ober Gatlinburg and then back down, we drove up to Clingmans dome.  We were greeted by a packed parking lot, but lucked out as a car was leaving.  Busy evening with tons of photographers!  Later on the way out, the rangers had already closed the road to the dome to begin preparations for Monday’s eclipse viewing.

On Sunday we took a leisurely drive from Sugarlands Visitor Center to and around the Cades Cove loop, but we stopped a few times along the way to enjoy the sights.  The loop to the visitor center was fairly easy, with a stop at the Primitive Baptist Church and at other spots along the road for picture taking.  We spent an hour or so at the visitor center area exploring the old village buildings and watching the mill grind corn.  Cades Cove was also preparing for a large contingent of eclipse peepers.  A large field was flagged for additional parking, and a whole row of porta-potties were setup.  By the time we left to finish the loop, the traffic was really backed up — not at all unusual for the summer months.

It was a quick tour, but the park has two new fans.  Along the way, I snapped the shutter a few times, but not all that much this trip.

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