The Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Smoky Mountain Retreat's log cabins for rent are located near many access points to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the most visited national park in the country!
The Deep Creek area is celebrated for its streams and waterfalls. Hikers can choose from several loop hikes leading to the waterfalls. Mountain bikers can take advantage of one of the few park trails where bicycles are permitted. Around 2 miles of walking will acquaint you with beautiful Deep Creek and three pretty waterfalls. Deep Creek area loop hikes include Juney Whank Falls (0.6 mile), Three Waterfalls Loop (2.4 miles), and Deep Creek-Indian Creek Loop (4.4 miles). Longer loop hikes are also possible. Trails to the waterfalls start from the large parking area at the end of Deep Creek Road (across the creek from Deep Creek Campground).
To get to Deep Creek, head to Bryson City, NC and follow the signs three miles to Deep Creek.
Oconaluftee Visitor Center
The Oconaluftee Visitor Center serves as the gateway to Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Cherokee, NC, with all its natural beauty, outdoor attractions, and amenities. Visitor center museum exhibits tell the story of life in these mountains from native Americans and early European settlement time periods through the Civilian Conservation Corp and the development of the national park. The adjacent Mountain Farm Museum contains a fascinating collection of log structures including a farmhouse, barn, smokehouse, applehouse, corn cribs and others. Demonstrations of farm life are conducted seasonally.
Mountain Farm Museum
The Mountain Farm Museum is a unique collection of farm buildings assembled from locations throughout the park. Visitors can explore a log farmhouse, barn, apple house, springhouse, and a working blacksmith shop to get a sense of how families may have lived 100 years ago. Most of the structures were built in the late 19th century and were moved here in the 1950s. The Davis House offers a rare chance to view a log house built from chestnut wood before the chestnut blight decimated the American Chestnut in our forests during the 1930s and early 1940s. The museum is adjacent to the Oconaluftee Visitor Center.
A half-mile north of the Oconaluftee Visitor Center is Mingus Mill. Built in 1886, this historic grist mill uses a water-powered turbine instead of a water wheel to power all of the machinery in the building. Located at its original site, Mingus Mill stands as a tribute to the test of time. Hours: 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM daily mid-March through mid-November. Also, open Thanksgiving weekend.
Water flows down a millrace to the mill.
A working cast iron turbine.
A miller demonstrates the process of grinding corn into cornmeal.
Cornmeal and other mill-related items are available for purchase at the mill.
At 6,643 feet, Clingmans Dome is the highest point in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It is the highest point in Tennessee, and the third highest mountain east of the Mississippi. Only Mt. Mitchell (6,684 feet) and Mt. Craig (6,647), both located in Mt. Mitchell State Park in western North Carolina, rise higher. The observation tower on the summit of Clingmans Dome offers spectacular 360° views of the Smokies and beyond for visitors willing to climb the steep half-mile walk to the tower at the top.
A trip over the Newfound Gap Road has often been compared to a drive from Georgia to Maine in terms of the variety of forest ecosystems one experiences. Starting from Cherokee, North Carolina, travelers climb approximately 3,000 feet, ascending through cove hardwood, pine-oak, and northern hardwood forest to attain the evergreen spruce-fir forest at Newfound Gap (5,046'). This fragrant evergreen woodland is similar to the boreal forests of New England and eastern Canada.
At nearly a mile high, Newfound Gap is significantly cooler than the surrounding lowlands and receives much more snow. Temperatures at the gap may be 10° F. or more cooler than in the lowlands and precipitation falling as rain in Cherokee may be snow at Newfound Gap. On average, 69 inches of snow falls at the gap.
Roaring Fork is one of the larger and faster flowing mountain streams in the park. Drive this road after a hard rain and the inspiration behind the name will be apparent.
The narrow, winding, Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail invites you to slow down and enjoy the forest and historic buildings of the area. The 5.5-mile-long, one-way, loop road is a favorite side trip for many people who frequently visit the Smokies. It offers rushing mountain streams, glimpses of old-growth forest, and a number of well-preserved log cabins, grist mills, and other historic buildings. Please note that the road is closed in winter.
An 11-mile, one-way loop road circles the cove, offering motorists the opportunity to sightsee at a leisurely pace. Allow at least two to four hours to tour Cades Cove, longer if you walk some of the area's trails. Traffic is heavy during the tourist season in summer and fall and on weekends year-round. While driving the loop road, please be courteous to other visitors and use pullouts when stopping to enjoy the scenery or view wildlife.
At 480 ft., Fontana Dam is the tallest concrete dam east of the Rocky Mountains. The dam impounds the Little Tennessee River forming Fontana Lake and produces hydroelectric power. Reservoir size is approximately 11,700 acres. There is a shoreline of about 240 miles. You will enjoy beautiful scenery in the area. Fontana Dam is located near Fontana Village, North Carolina.
A visitor center operated by the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) is open from early May until late October. Fontana Lake offers boating and fishing and access to remote, historic areas of the park like Hazel Creek and Eagle Creek.