Camping in The Smoky Mountains, NC May 2011

We're headed up to the Smokies this Memorial weekend. Plan on staying in Cades Cove, TN. We have been there before, but it's been a long time, and we wanted to go back. It's one of the most beautiful places in the Smokies. We'll probably also be checking out the area around Cades Cove area during our 4 day stay. Stay tuned for pictures and ride report.

Edit:

We left Friday at daybreak, with overcast weather. According to the radar, the forecast didn't look too good, with a line of storms going east towards us on Hwy 9 and 11. By mid-morning the rain and storms hit us, and we rode in rain for about 2 hours. The rain continued up through 178 into Rosman. Had a good lunch there (at the only eatery in sight) and had some good home made chicken tenders and the works.

We continued up the mountain until we hit Blue Ridge Parkway. The clouds and fog were still hanging low by the time we got on the parkway…

Parkway

Continued on the Parkway into 441 a little north-east of Cherokee. By then, the fog had cleared. 441 is a nice road, fog or not :-) . We finally pulled into Cades Cove Campground around 5:30PM, after 360 or so miles of riding. It takes a long time to ride any distance when you are riding twisties in the mountains.

The next day, we headed out through the Cades Cove scenic Drive. There were cars piled up everywhere, so we pulled over and waited for the "circus" to end.

Cades Cove, TN

A few miles further into the Cove, we stopped and looked around.. Below is an 8-picture pano of The Cove. (Olympus 14-52mm at 14mm f. length, using polarizer)

Cades Cove, TN

We got half way through the loop and instead of continuing on the Cove loop, be headed down Parson Branch road off the loop road. This turned out to be a nice dirt and gravel road that stretched for miles though the wood. We even ran into some horseback riders. The road ends at US 129, so we planned on riding it all the way though, which is about 8 miles of pristine dirt.

After a few miles though, this unimproved road became somewhat rutty, with deep gravel built up in the center, several nice water crossings appeared, and it also narrowed considerably. Lois didn't like the way this adventure developed, but I was able to coax her through, all the way to US129. No pictures of this section. But I was mighty proud of her conquering this "beast" of a road on her shiny Beemer, equipped with appropriate dirt tires, without leaving a mark on it. Sorry no picture, but a video is in the works, of the good part of the adventure.

We got down to US129 (Deals Gap), continued towards Deals Gap store, where there must have been 1000 bikes and 2000 people (remember it was Memorial day weekend)

Deals Gap, NC

Everyone was running around buying tee-shirts and baseball hats. What a mess. They had added a restaurant since last time we stopped by years ago. The line was a mile long for a cheeseburger, however, and we opted out, and hopped on our GS's and headed down 28 towards Fontana Dam, NC, where we stopped for a few minutes. By this time, it was staring to get hot.

Mules at Fontana Dam, NC

Fontana Dam, NC

From there we continued to Fontana Village, ate cheese hamburgers for lunch (probably half the Deals Gap burger price). Then up through 441 back to camp.

I really, really regret not getting up early one morning at daybreak, and ride into the Cove with my camera equipment and take some sun rise pictures. Oh well.
 I'll put up a link to the video as soon as Lois have done her magic. (she's the videographer)

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