Gatlinburg trip April 2006 (day 2)

Today is going to be a travel day...Cades Cove, The Dragon, Fontana Dam, Clingman's Dome, and all points in between. In addition to enjoying the sights I'm also reconning for future motorcyle trips. I'll gather lots of info today.

A beautiful Tennessee mountain morning.

Our first stop was Cades Cove. Here we are at the visitor's center. They have maps for $1 and informational plaques. The drive to Cades Cove was nice curvy, well-maintained roads. Mental note for motorcycling. In the distance Sarah is wandering around taking pictures.

The sign tells the story. Cades Cove is preserved as it was in the 1800's. There is wildlife to see, beautiful mountain views, and well maintained structures from the past. The main loop is paved. There are many pull-offs for viewing. There are a couple shallow (a few inches) stream crossings. There are deviations down dirt roads for log cabins, churches, hiking trails, etc.

Midway through the loop is a vistor's center complex. There are restrooms, a preserved farm and grist mill, and the visitor center where you can purchase momentos from the visit. I found the 1800's-technology water chute to be especially interesting. The mill operator says there's usually a large black snake hanging around so Sarah was on Red Alert.

Visitor Center pictures

Cades Cove pictures - just a small sampling of things to see.

After Cades Cove we backtracked to US321 and took the scenic Foothills Parkway to US129. A left turn took us towards Deals Gap and the infamous Tail of the Dragon. Driving the Dragon was awesome. It would be even better on a bike. It was so curvy it made Sarah nauseous. The road was busy even on a weekday. There were a few crotch rockets using the road like a race track but most drivers/riders were acting responsibly.

We pulled over east of Deal's Gap so Sarah could get some fresh air.

Next we drove up SR28 (another great curvy road) to the Fontana Dam. It is the largest dam east of the Rockies. Some scenes for the move 'The Fugitive' were shot here. (Update: the movie scenes were actually shot at the Cheoah dam several miles west of here.) By now we were getting hungry so we raided the gift shop for a wonderful meal.

Fontana Dam pictures

After checking out the dam we drove to Bryson City. This is where our train ride stopped on our Asheville trip. Sarah and I ate at the same restaurant. Yummy!

Our next stop was Clingmans Dome. Near Cherokee we passed the south end of the Blue Ridge Parkway. There was a big motorcycle rally in Cherokee so we saw lots of bikes out. US441 between Cherokee and Gatlinburg is another great motorcycle road. Clingmans Dome was closed for remodeling so we headed back to the cabin since it was getting late. By now Sarah was snoozing.

We stopped at Arbys on the way back. We spent the rest of the night watching TV, lying in the hottub, and watching the sparkling lights of Pigeon Forge. We did a lot that day.

Day 3.

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