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Old 06-27-2013, 11:43 AM   #31
beancounter93
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Just a heads up US441 between Cherokee, NC and Gatlinburg has been closed for a few months due to a rockslide and part of the road washing away. It may be re-opened by now but may want to check is going that route.
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Old 06-27-2013, 11:51 AM   #32
tnmt
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The road between Cherokee and Gatlinburg has been open back up for a while now.
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Old 07-07-2014, 07:13 AM   #33
elaine amj
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The road between Cherokee and Gatlinburg has been open back up for a while now.
Good to know We are headed to a cabin in Fontana Lake this weekend. We'll be driving from 75 through Gatlinburg and Cherokee to get there. Google advises skirting around the west side of the park but it looks like a slower, very winding drive.

Very excited for some mountain seclusion. Debating adding 1.5 days at Dollywood as we leave.
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Old 07-07-2014, 08:47 AM   #34
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My in-laws live around there so we never eat out when we are there. Might have to try some the resturants you guys keep talking about.
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Old 07-07-2014, 09:14 AM   #35
Geoff_M
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Originally Posted by maslex View Post
Do you think the bears will still be around in sight? We'll be there next weekend and plan on going to Cades Cove. Can't wait !!!
We spent a week last month at a rental cabin bordering the park in Wears Valley and had a great time.

As for bears, we did the Cades Cove loop twice and had a grand total of one "near miss" bear sighting. The first trip was in the afternoon and by then the car traffic was pretty bad. Guessing that the wildlife worked a lot like Yellowstone (you see more animals in the mornings), we went back another day mid-morning. That time we came upon a small "bear jam" (traffic jam due to people stopping their cars to get out and look at bears). However, the bear had just moved deeper into the woods out of view... and we opted to not do like one of the idiotic families who decided to go "track" the bear into the woods!

It appears that even in the mornings, traffic and crowds build quickly in the busy times of the year. I found it funny as we walked back to our car after the "near miss" a party of three Harley-Davidson's came to a stop and asked us "Is there some wildlife people are looking at???" All the while, the engines are belching their trademark loud bass "BOO-GAH, BOO-GAH, BOO-GAH..." sounds. I almost said "Well, if there was any wildlife around... I'm sure they're gone now!" But instead, I just said "Not anymore."

The one recommendation I'd make, and one that finally worked in the bear department for us, is to use the "road less traveled" approach. Guessing that we might see more critters if we ditched the Harley's and other traffic we took a side exit out of Cades. The north side-road out of the area is Rich Mountain Road and it runs out to Townsend. It's gravel most of the way, but is well maintained with very few pot holes and no "washboards". It also runs one-way out of the park. It worked. Halfway out, we saw a bear (I thought it was a juvenile at first) pop out of the grass ahead of us and we stopped. With no other cars in sight, we parked the car in the middle of the road. Then two cubs popped out two, and it was clear that the "young" bear was actually the mother. We stayed there for about 5 minutes as the bear and cubs walked around the car and checked us out. We stayed in the car with the windows rolled up too. Eventually, another car approached from behind and the bears opted to go check them out too. So we fired up the car and move on.

We really liked GSMNP. I and my son got up at 4 AM to drive up and watch the sun rise at Newfound Gap (if you want to see the "ball of fire" rise directly, you'll need to go a little further down the road into NC), went horseback riding at Cades Cove, hiked to Laurel Falls, walked up to Clingman's, and took lots of photos along Little River Road. However, I found Pigeon Forge (in general) and Gatlinburg (in particular) to be big "turn-offs". Congestion, traffic jams, and the whole cheap "tourist trap" feel to the place isn't my idea of a fun time. However, I did like eating at the Old Mill Inn and would highly recommend it. Reasonably priced great food... and lots of it!
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Last edited by Geoff_M; 07-07-2014 at 09:25 AM.
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