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Thread: Great Smoky Mountains National Park

  1. #1

    Default Great Smoky Mountains National Park

    I will be planning a US road trip covering NYC, Washington DC, Smoky Mountains, Shenandoah NP, Asheville, and Charleston, so I am started a thread to share info and if anyone has info or tips on this, please share it too.

    Will be in USA in May, the shoulder season, where the weather is mild, but not too crowded and hotels are cheaper.
    Nikon D750; FM2; FG; 55mm Micro Nikkor; 28-300 VR; 70-200 VR; Nikon V1 + 10-30mm

  2. #2

    Default Re: Great Smoky Mountains National Park

    You would have missed the bloom in Spring. I've been to Shenandoah NP twice and DC multiple times. If you plan to stay inside the park, do book the accommodation in advance. there are choices of where you wanna stay within the park.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Great Smoky Mountains National Park

    Thanks the travel period is period firm due to the conference I am attending.

    But I will source for motels / chalets - any ideas or suggestions will be welcome!
    Nikon D750; FM2; FG; 55mm Micro Nikkor; 28-300 VR; 70-200 VR; Nikon V1 + 10-30mm

  4. #4

    Default Re: Great Smoky Mountains National Park

    There are several chain motels in the towns/cities near these parks.. just do a search and get the feel of the area from google maps streetview.. choice of accom depends a lot on your preference and budget..

  5. #5

    Default Re: Great Smoky Mountains National Park

    Peter, I use expedia.com for travel in the US. They are very comprehensive. You may find something slightly cheaper elsewhere, but you wont have one stop shop convienence.

    Charleston is beautiful
    deadpoet
    my portfolio

  6. #6

    Default Re: Great Smoky Mountains National Park

    Quote Originally Posted by petetherock View Post
    I will be planning a US road trip covering NYC, Washington DC, Smoky Mountains, Shenandoah NP, Asheville, and Charleston, so I am started a thread to share info and if anyone has info or tips on this, please share it too.

    Will be in USA in May, the shoulder season, where the weather is mild, but not too crowded and hotels are cheaper.
    I was at Smokies in Nov.

    Staying at Gatlinsburg would put you at the door step of the smokies. Good start point. I stayed at Pigeon forge, which meant I had to travel in and out everyday.

    Places to visit: Cades Cove...very nice scenic drive. From Gatlinsburg to cades cove is a nice route. The highest peak at Clingman's dome is also nice. Visited Grotto's falls, Laural falls, which is quite an easy track. Left by Blue ridge parkway, which has nice views.

    Blue ridge parkways connects to skyline drive in shennadoah. So you can plan a trip with intermediate stops in between. If at Shennadoah, you shd visit the Luray Caverns. It is a very nice cavern.

  7. #7

    Default Re: Great Smoky Mountains National Park

    Well here is my road trip plan so far
    (Accomodations are TBC - just filling in names)

    This will be in early May after a conference so the dates are not too elastic...

    How does it sound?

    Wed
    FLL to Charleston
    The destination today is historic Charleston, a city built for walking. Take a leisurely stroll through the historic district and note its unsurpassed antebellum architecture. It was in Charleston that early shots of the Civil War were fired, starting a four-year battle that ended with the defeat of the Confederate States and the reemergence of the United States as one nation.
    Overnight: Holiday Inn Riverview

    Stay in Charleston
    Holiday Inn Riverview


    Thur
    Charleston -> Asheville (264 Miles)

    Holiday Inn Cherokee


    Fri
    Cherokee Indian Reservation / Asheville - > Great Smoky Mountains - > Roanoke
    Natural Bridge Hotel


    Sat
    Free and easy at Smoky Mts


    Sun
    Roanoke –> Blue Ridge Parkway –> Shenandoah National Park (147 Miles)
    Skyland Lodge

    Mon
    Shenandoah National Park - >Washington, D.C. (86 Miles)

    Explore Virginia’s colonial and Civil War heritage. Visit the site of the strategic Battle of Bull Run, where the historical influence of America’s founders is reflected in its institutions and architecture. Pass by Thomas Jefferson’s home in Monticello
    Capital Skyline Hotel

    Tues
    Washington, D.C.
    The broad streets of America’s seat of government enhance the dramatic effect of Washington’s memorable monuments: The Lincoln Memorial, The Jefferson Memorial, and The White House. On Capitol Mall, the Smithsonian’s complex of museums is a repository for the nation’s historic treasures.

    Wed
    Washington, D.C.-> New York (240 Miles).

    Via Philadelphia (can stay here for a night)

    Washington to Philadelphia, home of Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell, and Ben Franklin.
    Stay in Phil?


    Thurs
    NYC
    - shop eat tour
    Nikon D750; FM2; FG; 55mm Micro Nikkor; 28-300 VR; 70-200 VR; Nikon V1 + 10-30mm

  8. #8

    Default Re: Great Smoky Mountains National Park

    Looks like you are quite a history buff.

    You itinerary looks very pack, but Colonial Williamsburg / Jamestown/Yorktown in Virginia is quite historical too for the revolution period. Gettysburg is another place to visit, if interested in Civil war.

    Would suggest to spend more time at Smokies if you have the time.

  9. #9

    Default Re: Great Smoky Mountains National Park

    Actually I like nature and hiking plus good scenery but my back does not allow me to do macho hikes this trip.
    I can skip a few places if there are special places to be in?

    I have 2 nights in Tokyo en route so the total time away is more than 2 weeks ..
    Nikon D750; FM2; FG; 55mm Micro Nikkor; 28-300 VR; 70-200 VR; Nikon V1 + 10-30mm

  10. #10

    Default Re: Great Smoky Mountains National Park

    Shd try to spend more time at the smokies. I chose simple hikes as I had kids. Places I think shd go in smokies is Cades cove, Clingman's dome, Grotto falls. There are many scenic spots to stop in between. So 3 days?

    If you take the blue ridge parkway, you can plan an intermediate stop in-between, and continue to the skyline drive. Natural bridge was ok, interesting, but I found the Luray caverns more beautiful.

    You can see some of my US shots here.
    http://tchuanye.smugmug.com/Travel

  11. #11

    Default Re: Great Smoky Mountains National Park

    Nice shots bro...

    I am sold, more time at Smoky and Shenandoah, skip PHL, and go into NYC for a day. Will keep Washington though.

    Cheers

    BTW, if you can share which places you stayed, that gives me some ideas.
    I have 4 passengers, and I was thinking of a car, do I need a 4X4 SUV?
    Nikon D750; FM2; FG; 55mm Micro Nikkor; 28-300 VR; 70-200 VR; Nikon V1 + 10-30mm

  12. #12

    Default Re: Great Smoky Mountains National Park

    Williamsburg:
    http://www.super8.com/Super8/control...opertyId=03810

    Quite cheap, but breakfast is very simple.

    I stayed at a Quality Inn in Front Royal for Shennendoah...but not recommended.

    In smokies, decided to stay in Cabin:
    http://www.greatoutdoorrentals.com/index.php
    Abit on the high side, but wanted to try for once. Stayed at Fisherman's view. But as mentioned, abit of traveling daily in and out of Smokies (abt 30min).

    That is about it.

    Car, normal one would do. >2L car and above would suffice for 4. GPS is necessary.

  13. #13

    Default Re: Great Smoky Mountains National Park

    I'll highly recommend using Hotwire to get accommodation in cities such as DC and NY. I agree that you should skip Philly. You can use the extra time in DC. Do check out the newseum if you have time. It is extremely interesting and informative.

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Great Smoky Mountains National Park

    Asheville and Charleston are charming towns/small cities where I think you need to take your time to explore on foot to get the most out of them. So if you can afford the time, rather than driving all over, park the car at one central location for the day and try to walk from place to place instead. There should be a lot of guided or self-guided walking tours that you can follow too. Both are great for a bit of history and architecture, Charleston more for American civil war history, while Asheville has very interesting and unique art-deco style architecture, with nice mountainous setting (in the bg of course )

    I remember Charleston hotels to be on the expensive side, so don't be disheartened if you can't find anything cheap.

    I recommend Hotwire.com for car rental, they've given me very good rates before. But they might be limited to airports for pick up and return (to get good rates), in case that's a problem. The Smokies is not a National Park where you need a 4x4.

    For lodgings, you can try Priceline.com. They have a name your price system, where you get to choose an area where you want to stay in, and name a price you're willing to pay. If any hotel/motel in that area is willing to match your price, you get it. Pro: you can name fairly low prices, below published rates, no harm trying. Con: if any hotel meets your criteria, you're obliged to take it, you can't shop around. It has worked for us a few times before, getting rooms like maybe 30% cheaper than what expedia.com or equivalent would have given us. But you must not mind being in very basic motels of course.

    Some photos, not terribly inspiring, but hopefully they'll help you a bit in your photography planning:
    Smokies
    Asheville
    Charleston
    Washington DC

    Have fun on your trip!
    My photos - see just some or all of it =)

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