Great Smoky Mountains Travel Guide

Being Florida flat landers, we were not use to seeing mountains everywhere, but they were a site to be seen along with the streams and rivers.   The sound of the water made us feel at home.  During, our early morning travels through the mountains we were driving through the clouds looking for picturesque photo opportunities.  For that reason, we stayed as close as possible to Cades Cove, in Townsend, Tennessee which they call the peaceful side of the smokies.  The smokies have a total of 150 trails which gave us the opportunity to do some hiking to look for more photos.   My wife and I had discussions on which trail to attempt.  They have trails that are easy to very strenuous.  Since we were only there a few days, we had to decide on one trail to hike.  We finally agreed to hike to Laurel Falls, a 2.6 mile round trip considered an easy trail.  Watch below the video on Laurel Falls to see how it went.  The Smoky Mountains are a great getaway from everyday life.  We had a wonderful time and cannot wait to go back.       


Dancing Bear Lodge Townsend Tennessee

For a lodge, it was very upscale.  An amazing breakfast of your choice was included with the nightly room rate.  Dancing Bear Lodge Information.  Check out our video on Cades Cove to see the inside of our room.


Appalachian Bistro is a farm-to-table restaurant with a rustic building part of the Dancing Bear Lodge grounds.   These were some of the best meals we had in our life.   We were only in Townsend, Tennessee for 3 nights and we had dinner there twice.   We would of ate there every night but they are closed on Mondays.   One of our favorite appetizers we had was a squash blossom (tempura fried Dancing Bear squash blossoms from their garden, shredded Benton’s country ham & goat cheese stuffing, pinto bean hummus & cornbread crumble).   The Executive Chef for this delicious restaurant is Jeff Carter.   A place you must dine at in Townsend, Tennessee.  Appalachian Bistro Information.

Appalachian Bistro Townsend Tennessee

Apple Valley Café, also on the property of the Dancing Bear Lodge,  serves breakfast and lunch.   We would have our breakfast after our early morning outings and stop by the café for lunch before we would go out scoping for more photo opportunities.   If you like barbecue, they have an amazing brisket sandwich.   Apple Valley Cafe Information.

Apple Valley Cafe Townsend Tennessee



Cades Cove is an 11-mile loop in the valley with active wildlife and breath-taking mountains.  Cades Cove is the most popular destination in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park with millions of visitors every year.   We went into the park early morning and before sunset.    The wildlife were very active early morning which you will see in the below video.  This park is a must see in your life time.   Cades Cove Information.   Check out the video below for the loop drive: 



Laurel Falls 

We enjoyed our early morning hike to Laurel Falls not crowded at all, but as the day goes on this hiking trail will be packed with no parking available.   This is the most popular waterfall in the park.   It is a 2.6 mile round-trip with an elevation change of 314 feet.   The fall it self is 80 feet high.   It was all up hill from the parking lot.  Being from Florida, we are not accustom to any incline walks.   Laurel Falls Information.   Check out the below video to see how we did on the hike:

 Cataloochee Valley

This is one of the most rugged mountains in southeastern United States.   They were not kidding.   We were lucky our GPS worked because we would of got lost on these dirt mountain roads.   On this long journey, we finally arrived at out destination.   This definitely is a remote part of the Great Smoky Mountains located in North Carolina.   After visiting the homestead will continued on the road and had to go over a small bridge.   My wife did not like this because she thought we were going to crash through the bridge and fall in the stream.   Cataloochee Valley Information.  Check out our Maggie Valley video below to see for yourself.

Tuckaleechee Caverns

A place to cool off in the summer with a temperature in the 60's because the tour is in a massive cavern system.    The greatest site under the Smokies.   You descend down 100 stairs to get to the caverns, so wear appropriate shoes.   Do not forget you will be climbing up these stairs at the end of your approximately one mile tour in the darkness.   They do have lights on the tour walkways.  These are not the only stairs you will be climbing and descending during your tour.   No elevators.   If you can handle lots of stairs, a must see on the peaceful side of the smokies.  Open from March 1st through November 30th.  Tuckaleechee Caverns Information.  Check out the below video for yourself:  

 River Rat Tubing and Whitewater 

The Smoky Mountains have rolling streams everywhere.   There were families enjoying he tubing adventure.   This is one activity, I wanted to do but my wife felt the water and said it was too cold.  My wife is adventurous on anything else, not afraid of heights or mountain trails, but cold water is a different story.  The average temperature in the summer time in the sixties.   My wife will not go into the springs in Florida that is always 72 degrees year round.   Next year, I will try it because I love the water.   River Rat Information.

Smoky Mountain Sasquatch Store

Is there a bigfoot in the Smokies Mountain?   That is the million dollar question.  On our visit, the only Sasquatch we sited was lots of merchandise in a one-of-a-kind store.   We met the owner of this store and he stated that last time someone saw bigfoot in the Smokies was 2007.   Stop by the "World's Smallest Big Store" in Townsend, Tennessee.   Of course, we walked out with our Sasquatch souvenirs. In May, there is a Bigfoot Festival in Townsend, Tennessee.  Smoky Sasquatch Store.

Blue Ridge Parkway

We travelled the Blue Ridge Parkway early morning as we were there looking for amazing photo opportunities.  This parkway has the most breath taking scenic views.  Sometimes we were actually driving through the clouds a little intimidating for us Florida people.   There are tunnels on this parkway covered in clouds.   The road is not straight you are going around and up and down the mountains.    Blue Ridge Parkway Information.

Check out the below video to experience the parkway yourself: