My trip to the Smoky Mountains

Smoky Mountains along the Blue Ridge Parkway
Smoky Mountains along the Blue Ridge Parkway

I spent a relaxing five days in the Smoky Mountains a week ago. I miss the slower pace, the cleaner air, and being surrounded by mountains.

We like to stay in Cherokee, North Carolina, the large tourist town on the Qualla Boundary (the reservation of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians). We stayed at the Chestnut Tree Inn (formerly the Holiday Inn) and I recommend it. The rooms were very clean and the staff helpful and friendly.

I love going to the Smoky Mountains. My family has lived in these mountains for thousands of years. The Smoky Mountains are the homeland of the Cherokees.

The next several posts on “In Season” will be about the Smokies. Even though the park is a large natural area, the mountains have an environmental history that is compelling and useful to know.

Smoky Mountain mist in Cherokee, NC
Smoky Mountain mist in Cherokee, NC

How the Smoky Got Their Names: “Water carried through plants is released through the leaves as a vapor. The vapor from the conifer trees of the Smokies contains terpenes, an organic chemical. As the vapor is released, the large amounts of terpenes make the smoke-like haze or mist that gives the mountains their name.” – from a sign in the Oconaluftee Visitor’s Center – Smoky Mountains National Park.

Lookout point along the Blue Ridge Parkway, Smoky Mountains
Lookout point along the Blue Ridge Parkway, Smoky Mountains
The view at Raven Fork lookout point, Smoky Mountains, Blue Ridge Parkway
The view at Raven Fork lookout point, Smoky Mountains, Blue Ridge Parkway
Umbrella Magnolia (Magnolia tripetala) in Cherokee Botanical Gardens
Umbrella Magnolia (Magnolia tripetala) in Cherokee Botanical Gardens
Rosebay Rhododendron (Rhododendron Maximum) in Cherokee Botanical Gardens
Rosebay Rhododendron (Rhododendron Maximum) in Cherokee Botanical Gardens
unknown mushroom (fungi) in Cherokee Botanical Gardens
unknown mushroom (fungi) in Cherokee Botanical Gardens
Oconaluftee River in Smoky Mountains National Park
Oconaluftee River in Smoky Mountains National Park
Dark-eyed Junco (Junco hyemalis) at Clingman's Dome in Smoky Mountains N.P.
Dark-eyed Junco (Junco hyemalis) at Clingman's Dome in Smoky Mountains N.P.
View from Clingman's Dome, Smoky Mountains National Park
View from Clingman's Dome, Smoky Mountains National Park - highest point in the park, 6,643 feet above sea level.

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