Tag Archives: Parkway

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Overview

Great Smoky Mountains National Park straddles the border of Tennessee and North Carolina, with both sides offering incredible views.  The park is similar to Shenandoah National Park in that it was mostly purchased from private landowners before its establishment by the federal government in 1934.  With around 11-million visitors annually, it is easily the most visited of the 62 National Parks in the National Park Service system, perhaps because it has no entrance fee.

Highlights

Clingman’s Dome, Cades Cove, Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail, Foothills Parkway, Oconaluftee, Appalachian National Scenic Trail

Must-Do Activity

Many interesting sections of Great Smoky Mountains National Park preserve the human history of the region, like the popular Cades Cove with its iconic old grist mill.  To learn more about the Cherokee indigenous to this region, visit Oconaluftee Visitor Center on the North Carolina side.  While there you might also spot a herd of reintroduced elk.

Best Trail

Even on the bumper to bumper Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail, all you have to do is park and take a hike to find some solitude.  Grotto Falls Trail passes through old-growth hemlock forest, an area very popular with black bears.

Instagram-worthy Photo

As you can imagine, this park is incredibly popular in October and November because of the beautiful fall foliage.  Early in the season, head to 6,643-foot Clingman’s Dome, then drop in elevation as the autumn progresses.

Peak Season

Summer and fall

Hours

https://www.nps.gov/grsm/planyourvisit/hours.htm

Fees

None

Road Conditions

Newfound Gap Road is the major thoroughfare connecting the two sides of the park and it is plowed throughout the winter.  The 11-mile loop road through Cades Cove is open year round, but the 7-mile spur road up to Clingman’s Dome and the 6-mile one-way Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail are seasonal.

Camping

There are 10 campgrounds within Great Smoky Mountains National Park, but if you need RV hookups you will have to find a private campground outside the park.

Related Sites

Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area (Tennessee-Kentucky)

Blue Ridge Parkway (North Carolina-Virginia)

Shenandoah National Park (Virginia)

This design we created to celebrate Great Smoky Mountains National Park is available on a variety of products at Cafe Press and Amazon.

Explore More – While most National Parks do not allow dogs on trails, what are the two trails in Great Smoky Mountains National Park that do?

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Tupelo National Battlefield

Overview

Two cannons and a monument mark this one-acre (less than a football field) National Park Service (NPS) site surrounded by the city of Tupelo, Mississippi.  The park was established in 1929 to memorialize the battle of July 14, 1864, when the Union army drove off Confederate troops trying to disrupt General William T. Sherman’s railroad supply line at the historic town of Harrisburg. Located only one mile off the Natchez Trace Parkway, Tupelo’s own Elvis Presley probably visited this park as a child.

Highlights

Cannons

Must-Do Activity

Unlike other NPS sites, Tupelo National Battlefield provides much easier access to a car wash and a Walmart store.  Its visitor center is combined with the one for the Natchez Trace Parkway just outside Tupelo.  The city of Baldwyn, Mississippi runs an interpretive center (with a small admission fee) that also commemorates a Confederate victory on June 10, 1864 at Brices Cross Roads National Battlefield Site.   

Best Trail

There is a sidewalk on two sides of the one-acre park.

Instagram-worthy Photo

This is one of the smallest units in the NPS system, but from one angle, Tupelo National Battlefield looks like many larger Civil War parks.

Peak Season

“They get about a week of spring then the summer is blistering.” –Jason Isbell from the song “Tupelo”

Hours

https://www.nps.gov/tupe/planyourvisit/hours.htm

Fees

None

Road Conditions

All roads paved, with street parking available.

Camping

Tombigbee State Park offers camping about 10 miles from Tupelo.

Explore More – What does the T. stand for in General William T. Sherman’s name?