North Carolina and Tennessee.

America’s most visited national park is a forest-covered, ancient mountain range straddling the border between North Carolina and Tennessee. The Great Smoky Mountains is home to incredibly diverse plant life, creating a lush backdrop inhabited by elk, black bear, wild turkey and fireflies and much more.

We avoided the crowded northern entrances and stayed in Bryson City, North Carolina. From there, we were able to easily access the 71 miles of the Appalachian Trail that run through the park. A visit to Mingo Falls allowed for breathtaking views and relaxing sounds under a 120-foot waterfall, one of the tallest in the region.

Within the park you will also find historic remnants of Southern Appalachian mountain culture and log buildings including Mingus Mill. Built in 1886, this grist mill uses a water turbine and still operates to this day!

After so many adventures, we spent a day relaxing by the stream and enjoying another very popular regional past time. Bryson City is home to the Annual Fly Fishing Festival, and experienced guides are ready to help. We caught and released many beautiful fish that day including rainbow, brown and native brook trout.

Outside the park, we visited a true natural wonder, Ruby Falls. America’s tallest underground waterfall is found 1,120 feet underground where the water falls 145 feet from the cavern ceiling and seeps out the crevices below. As Johnny Cash said, you really should See Ruby Fall!

The Smokies are a perfect combination of peaceful and idyllic natural areas combined with activities and adventures making it a perfect ESCAPADITA.

www.nps.gov/grsm