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Old 06-02-2012, 10:27 AM   #1
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Blue Ridge/Smoky Mtns

Hello! We've decided to head to The Smokies and Blue Ridge Mnts for a few days. Never been, dont have any plans other than to see some pretty scenery and hopefully show the kids a waterfall, flowing river, mountains etc. They've never seen anything like being born here in FL. Looking mostly for State/Federal/COE Parks, outdoors things. Not interested in museums/shopping/fancy eating/Art Galleries/Theaters, just want to be outside enjoying the cooler temps of the higher elevations. We can do that type of indoor activities here when it's hot. Maybe some gold panning for kids, mine tours, underground caves, old train rides, fishing, that kind of stuff. Love to hear route ideas and places to camp.


Melissa in Florida
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Old 06-02-2012, 10:46 AM   #2
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We haven't camped there, but have done the skyline drive. Luray Caverns, and Natural Bridge. In April we were at a campground in NC that had gold panning and gems, and that was a real unique experience!! Another time we went over the Smokies from Gatlinburg, an interesting ride, but we were not pulling a trailer.
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Old 06-02-2012, 12:19 PM   #3
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You're really not going to downtown Gatlinburg or Pigeon Forge? You should take the kids to Dollywood.
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Old 06-02-2012, 02:57 PM   #4
Name: Ollie
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At the NC end:
Gem mines at Franklin/Hiddenite

The Mile High Swinging Bridge at Grandfather Mtn. is fun with kids and they have black bears in an outdoor enclosure
Mile High Swinging Bridge - Grandfather Mountain

Also, Tweetsie Railroad- been going forever- old-fashioned train ride/wild west shootout
Tweetsie Railroad
I think Ghost Town in The Sky is closed, otherwise I'd say go there- there's a cable ride up to the wild-west town on a mountain

Cades Cove is very pretty.. some of the old farms are maintained to show what the mountains were like before the inhabitants were bought out and their settlements burned/removed when Great Smoky Mountain Natl. Park was formed.
Cades Cove - Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Also, I think the reintroduced Elk herds are near there, on the KY/TN border.
Elk - Great Smoky Mountains National Park

I know you said no theaters, but the outdoor ampitheater in Cherokee is nice- they've been putting on the play "Unto These Hills" since 1950- all about the Cherokee tribe from ancient times to now.
Unto These Hills Outdoor Drama

Virginia End:
Skyline Drive is wonderful- curving roads, great ridgetop views. Lots of caves and caverns along I-81, which runs parallel. Luray is great but can be crowded, Endless Caverns is quite nice.
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Old 06-02-2012, 04:11 PM   #5
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real nice rv park near Cades Cove- had a fg rally earlier this year, Townsend, Tn.
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Old 06-02-2012, 07:17 PM   #6
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Awesome, Thanks! Dollywood is on the "someday" list more for the shows than rides since none of us like roller coasters. Since we live an hour from Disney we want something different. Kindof funny actually since we've only been once since our 15 y/o was born and never with our 9 y/o. Crowds, lines, heat etc just doesnt excite us, lol. An Ampitheater sounds neat, never been to one I just meant we weren't looking for Broadway type shows indoors.

Thanks! I'm printing these suggestions.

Melissa in Florida
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Old 06-03-2012, 12:17 AM   #7
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Hi: melissab... Here's a view from going up Clingmans Dome in the Great Smokey Mtns. Nat. Pk. You really must do the drive... and stay at Tremont Outdoor Resort in Townsend Tenn.Tremont Hills Campground and Log Cabins - Indexpage My ears still remember the trip back down!!!
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Old 06-03-2012, 02:52 PM   #8
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Horse Cove CG in Nantahala Nat Forest with the sites in the upper section on the left our favorites. All sites are fairly large but these back up to the creek and offer the most privacy. Its just outside the entrance to Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest (some of the biggest trees in ths south).

The Nantahala River is nearby and offers some great rafting. We've had good luck with Nantahala Outdoor Center trips but there are numerous outfitters to choose from. Most offer a number of options from mild to Class IV.

Great Smoky Mountain Railroad out of Bryson City is nearby and offers half day rides to the Nantahala Outdoor Center HQ (the train wreck in The Fugitive was filmed on this run).

The Cherohala Skyway starts just up from the campground and runs into TN. It offers veiws as good or better than the Parkway.

We camped in most of the campgrounds in Nantahala and Pisgah NF and would recommend any of them. Van Hook Glade is on US 64 which has a number of nearby waterfalls. I suppose The Cradle of Forestry in Pisgah NF could be considered a museum but its mostly outside trails with stops that illustrate mountain life. This is near sliding rock which I guarantee the kids will love.

NPS campgrounds - Mt Pisgah and Linville Falls (waterfall and caverns) are on the Parkway and Cataloochee off I-40 west of Asheville (Elk and turkey - reservations required) are all good.

Enjoy your visit - Al
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Old 06-04-2012, 08:40 AM   #9
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If you're a "real" rockhound, watch out for those "mines" at Franklin, NC. Most of them are tourist traps where they've seeded the stream gravel with all sorts of not-local-to-here junk. Sure, it's fun to find a Burmese ruby...but only if you're in Burma!
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