|Cherokee, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Gatlinburg, Roaring Fork Motor Trail, Pigeon Forge|
In Cherokee visit the Museum of the Cherokee Indian (recently renovated), Qualla Arts & Crafts (real Indian handicrafts), Oconaluftee Village (especially enjoyable for children, open May 15th thru Oct 25th), and then catch Mingo Falls on the way to the Park. The Mountain Farm Museum is a 20 minute self-guided tour and Mingus Mill, an operating grist mill, is manned by members of the Historical Society on Holidays and summer weekends. Driving US 441 (You start off paralleling the Oconaluftee river - a great trout stream) through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park affords great views and ample opportunities for both picture taking at overlooks and short quiet walks. A stop at New Found Gap at the North Carolina/Tennessee border offers spectacular vistas and an opportunity to say: "I hiked The Appalachian Trail" (The Appalachian Trail is at the NE corner of the parking lot, and there is a sign there so you can get photographic proof of your claim!). For a 360 view take a 20 minute driving detour and a 15 minute cardiovascular exercise to the top of the Observation Tower on the top of Clingmans Dome. By the time you reach the Visitors Center at the Tennessee entrance to the Park, you are probably ready for a pit stop and the display of mounted wildlife and wildflowers is well worth a stop. Depending on the time and your inclination there are two options for continuing:
a. I love the outdoors - She loves her crafts and outlets: Before you leave the Visitors Center pick up a guide for Roaring Fork Motor Trail. Leave the Park on US 441 North and go into Gatlinburg. Turn right at stoplight #8 (You don't have to count, this tourist savvy and over-visited town has numbered their stoplights.) onto Airport Road which leads to Roaring Fork Motor Trail. Roaring Fork Motor Trail is a beautiful drive with the opportunity to stop at log cabins and waterfalls. At the end of the drive turn right on TN Highway 321 and shortly thereafter turn left onto Glades Road and right on Buckhorn Road which leads back to TN Highway 321. Along Glades Road and Buckhorn Road are over 70 craft and artist shops. Arriving back at TN Highway 321 turn right and at stoplight #3 turn right on US 441 to head towards Pigeon Forge with Outlet Shops galore and Dollywood.
b. We both enjoy bargain hunting and country music: As you exit the Park turn left on the Gatlinburg By-pass and head straight North to Pigeon Forge with Outlet Shops galore and Dollywood.