One of our favorite places to spend time is in the mountains. Any mountains. While our trips to the Rocky Mountains have been breathtaking with gorgeous views of of their much younger, majestic peaks, there are different, breathtaking views and many adventures awaiting in the Smokies.
The Great Smoky Mountains are a mountain range spanning the border of North Carolina and Tennessee. They are a subrange of the Appalachian Mountains (pronounced a-puh-LATCH-un in the Carolinas and a-puh-LAY-chuhn elsewhere). They are often referred to as the Smoky Mountains, or simply the Smokies.
The Great Smoky Mountains are well known for Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the most visited national park in the United States encompassing over 800 square miles and almost the entire Great Smoky Mountains.
The highest peak in the Smokies is Clingmans Dome with a height of 6,643 feet and located in the heart of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It is easily accessed through a short half-mile, albeit steep, paved trail that ends at a concrete observation tower.
Located throughout the Great Smoky Mountains are numerous bike trails and hiking trails. The most notable hiking trail is The Appalachian Trail, a 2,200 mile adventure through the Appalachian Mountains from Georgia to Maine.
No story of the Great Smoky Mountains without mention of the Cherokee Native American tribe would be complete. The Cherokee are a large Native American tribe who inhabited an enormous area of land primarily in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Tennessee encompassing the Great Smoky Mountains. Like most Native Americans, they were forced off their land by the European settlers.
The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians are primarily made up of descendants of the 800 remaining Cherokee who either hid from the government or became citizens of their respective states. They occupy their own land of 100 square miles and headquartered in Cherokee, NC. In Cherokee, you can find shops, museums, and historical shows celebrating their heritage.