Monday, August 18, 2008

Peak tourist season in the Great Smoky Mountains national park

It's fantastic here in the Great Smoky Mountains, everything is green and lush, the days are long and warm, and the nights are cool and filled with the sounds of critters of all types and amazing as it may seem, the crowds are not here. What a great time to take a vacation in the Great Smoky Mountains!

Dropping gas prices have helped the tourism industry pick up a little here in the North Carolina and Tennessee Smoky Mountains but there are still many places you can take a break from the crowds and breath in peace and quiet and just feel the world slow down a little and life get just a little bit better.

I am fortunate that I get to spend so much time in the backcountry of the Great Smoky Mountains national park - on average 7 days a week. With all that time checking the peaks and valleys of the national park section by section I know the park well and from what I see, it has never been a better time to pack your bags and spend sometime in my favorite biosphere.

Frontcountry campgrounds in Smoky Mountains and backcountry sites in the Great Smoky Mountains national park are virtually empty, even shelters have plenty of room. The only issues with camping right now is the difficulty in finding water at some campsites and shelters because of this years drought and some bear activity has closed some backcountry campsites.

Hiking trails in some sections of the park are deserted and even in the more popular areas in the GSM national park where people hike such as along the Appalachian Trails (AT) I can go for 5 or more hours without seeing a single person.

Because it is so quiet here, I am seeing more wildlife than ever before in the same places as I have been hiking for years. Wild blueberries and blackberries are ripe and a ready for picking and even along trails you just need to reach on out for a quick snack while taking in the beauty of the park.

Drive down the parkway in Pigeon Forge Tennesseeor in the heart of Asheville NC and you will see the crowds and line are small and the parking is easy. If any summer was the time to come to the Smoky Mountains, this is the summer!

While this year's drought is causing real hardship for locals in the Smokies especially in Western North Carolina and there doesn't appear to be a break in sight, it does mean great weather in the Smokies for those looking to enjoy the great outdoors.

A further bonus of this year's wet spring and now dry cool summer is that the fall colors in the Smoky Mountains which start in September and run through October and end around late November are predicted by experts to be better than normal. A quick cool snap in the next few weeks will push them over the top.

Local businesses are looking to make up for a slow start to the tourist season - so can you say "bargain"?

What are you waiting for? What aren't you here? If you see me on the trails be sure to say hi!

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