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East and Southeast
Interstate 40 is the eastern border for Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It doesn’t afford a lot of scenic views so you might want to get off the highway and take either Route 339 or Route 32 for some picture taking opportunities. The east side of the park is not as developed as the central area of the park. There are many old residences on the back roads here and sometimes you might just end up on someone’s driveway. I don’t recommend spending much time in this area of the park because of the limited scenic overlooks that have been established. The Cataloochee area in the southeastern block of the park has herds of elk that you might be able to see but be careful, they are very large animals and could attack if you get too close.
Route 441 literally cuts the park in half. This is the heart and soul of the park. There are many scenic overlooks and hiking trails where you can enjoy the environment and make memories with your camera. This is also how you can reach Clingman’s Dome (you can read more about Clingman’s here ( https://www.midlifecrisistraveler.com/national-parks-blog-1/2017/12/12/great-smoky-mountains-national-park-clingmans-dome ) and the Fontana Lake area.
When I was driving to Great Smoky Mountains National Park, I came upon an area that I didn’t know existed. What I mean is that I had no idea that this area of Route 66 between Interstate 40 and Gatlinburg was so built up. It is a 30 mile drive filled with hotels, restaurants, amusement parks, tourist trap entertainment and shopping. I tend to like National Parks where there is less of the commercial world and more nature-focused. If I had to recommend a National Park that is more nature-focused, I would recommend Shenandoah NP over Smoky Mountains. I would recommend that you visit both and see which one you like better but, for my choice, I would take Shenandoah as my top selection.
Have you visited Great Smoky Mountains National Park? What did you like about it? What is your favorite area? For more information about this National Park, click on the link below.