Tennessee sight-seeing question

James Baker

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Hi guys!
I’m picking up my first wrangler (2021 JLU Willys, Sarge Green) from Gupton’s in Tennessee some time in the next few weeks (it is in transit) and I’ll be coming from NY.

I’ll be bringing my 9 year old son and I’m looking for recommendations for places to stay for a night or two to check out the Smokey Mountains before heading back home.

Any recommendations for places to stay and can’t-miss spots to see would be greatly appreciated.. thanks in advance!
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bonniejf

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Drive to the Cataloochee Valley on the NC side of the Smokey Mountain National Park - see the elk and the road to get there is fun! You could also drive the Blue Ridge Parkway on the way back.
 

AlgUSF

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I go up there 4 times a year from Florida. There is nothing like camping in the park (i.e. Cades Cove, Elkmont, etc.). As far as hotels go, the most scenic hotel in my opinion is the Park Vista hotel in Gatlinburg. I stayed there the week before the Gatlinburg fires and it was surreal to see the news broadcasting video from the restaurant that I just had breakfast in the week before.

If you're looking for hotels the Tennessee side has hundreds of them. Lately I've been disappointed with the hospitality up there due to the COVID labor shortage, my last trip was horrible (filthy hotel room, long waits for restaurants running half staff).

I agree with bonniejf, if you have the time take the Blue Ridge Parkway (and Shenandoah) on the way back. That will drop you out in Front Royal, Virginia and has the best scenery of any drive I've ever taken. Not to mention that the speed limit is 35-45 the entire way. Skyline drive through Shenandoah is absolutely breathtaking.
 

cOtter

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If you go to Gatlinburg….. drive the Roaring Fork Motor Trial.

Others mentioned Cades Cove. The drive across the mountain to Cherokee North Carolina is also nice.

last but not least…..

Drive the tail of the Dragon.

Very enjoyable. Not sure if I would want to do it with only a few hours of driving your new wheels. 318 curves in 11 miles.
 

jblackst

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Second recommendation for the Cataloochee area of the GSMNP. Head to Gatlinburg, then E (N) on US-321, turn right on TN-32 and follow the road until it turns to gravel. Keep going about 45 minutes to Cataloochee.

I'd also seriously consider taking the Blue Ridge Pkwy & Skyline Drive back NE (instead of I-81).
 

AlgUSF

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Drive the tail of the Dragon.

Very enjoyable. Not sure if I would want to do it with only a few hours of driving your new wheels. 318 curves in 11 miles.
The "Dragon" is a blast in any vehicle. You probably wouldn't make a lot of two-wheeled friends rolling the Dragon in a Jeep on the weekend. It is always fun to visit the picture sites and see me rolling the dragon in an old-school Civic.

One nice thing is to pull off by the Calderwood Dam and take in the scenery (yes, I'm a geek). Calderwood is one of three dams that Alcoa built in the 1920s to smelt aluminum and helped drive the ally war effort in WW2. Those three dams work till this day producing electricity and are underappreciated feats of engineering. Whenever I go out there I think of what the area must have looked like in 1920. It also gives your new two-wheeled friends plenty of time to enjoy their ride.
 

ajkitebrder40

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Same question - except no kids and figure maybe some semi-easy trails to start off with on the way back to South Carolina. I know a few in NC (I lived awhile in Boone), any others to hit that aren't too crazy, but decent view/hiking (I'll have my wife with me too)
 

DanW

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Actually the weekend would be the time to go to the Dragon, IMO. Traffic will be enough that you'll be less likely to wind up with a motorcycle in your grille. MUCH more traffic on the weekend than during the week.
 

mjaga

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Cade's Cove was closed when we were there last week. Not sure when it's supposed to re-open. Tons of construction in that area right now, too. Wasn't a major hindrance, just something to be aware of.
 

ajkitebrder40

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Bump on this thread - probably going to pickup my JLUR from Gupton in mid-November, head towards Boone then Mt. Airy on my way back to SC. Any trails/ideas would be appreciated, especially any with hiking off of them (depending on weather - considering it's been pretty warm so far, not anticipating any snow yet).
 
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