Smokie Mountains and Appalachia

Capt. Mike

Spring Break has sprung and so have most of my body parts. We just got back from a week in the Smokies with a 12 year-old. What an experience. I have new respect for parents camping with young'uns and new tolerance for species that kill their young!

Actually, wasn't too bad. We started on the Blue Ridge with our first plans to camp at Mt. Pisgah for two days. When we got onto the Blue Ridge, we had the welcome center check and yes, the campground & Inn are open, but the road isn't. A fresh snow had closed a couple of miles between us & the campground. But we did a detour, only to finally arrive and find the camp ground buttoned up tight. Appears the BRP Rangers don't know what the H was going on -- not that that should surprise me. It wouldn't open until May 1st even though the Inn is open year-round. I also pulled into the gas station to find them buttoning up. Said business was slow so they decided to go home. Hello? US Gov't facility? And 20 cents price gouging for the privilege.

We did find a nice USFS campground at Davidson River back down near the base. They've gotten a little pricey but it was nice. $18 but heated bathroom w/ shower.

We also found the Cradle of Forestry and Sliding Rock closed, but the USF&W fish hatchery was open as was a forest service road/trail up to the top. Great 4WD VW territory.

But cold! Well below freezing. We survived but it was a miserable sleep. We had a midnight reheat and get warm session! Little propane Coleman did it's thing, though.

We headed into the Smokies and camped on the east side the first night. The next day we ran through the park, hiking to the top of Clingman's Dome even though it was in thick clouds. Lots of snow & ice still lingering there.

At both campground, there were others with girls about our's age so she had a good time with them.

The 2nd night was Cades Cove. We were almost alone -- nobody within a dozen sites. The next day we did the Cades Cove loop tour and the place was crawling with deer. Where were they in middle NC during hunting season?

We left via Rich Mt. Road, a one-way twister down into Townsend TN. From there to Pigeon Forge and into Gatlinburg.

We got a King suite on the river in Gatlinburg. With jacuzzi big enough for 4. We ate, wandered and planned Thursday. Thursday the Young'un was full bore for all the trashy tourist stuff. We did Ripley's Believe It or Not (I paid $30 for this, Believe It or Not!), their Haunted House and the Aquarium. Have to admit the Aquarium was nice but $43??? I passed on the Earthquake ride, but the Admiral got suckered in. Still lots of wandering through the shops and more eating. Hate to think how much I gained this week since camp cooking is also my thing.

We came home Friday and got within an hour from the house before I-85 came to a screeching halt. Wreck. Isn't that like it? One last lick? Anyway, I'm sore and stiff. But the little one says she had a good time, and that's what it's all about. Just shoot me next time one asks before I "volunteer" again.

PS: Volksrat did fine. Fridge didn't even fight the change to LP, mileage was 19.71 mpg. Despite the traffic and mountains, plus A/C on the way home in that traffic jam, not one sign of overheating. Now I get to do the big 135K service which came up during the trip.

Smokies have some of the finest scenery you'll find anywhere. They do have a number of lesser roads and the Westy loves mountains and back woods. I guess my biggest complaint is there was the South end of a Northbound Florida Gore voter in one campground that had to fire up his generator -- God forbid she miss the soaps or being able to microwave the TV dinner. When they make me Emperor, I'll outlaw the damn things!
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New member
Hey Mike,

The next time you are in that part of the country you need to check out the joyce-kilmer area. It is between deals gap and robbinsville. They have completed the cherohala?? parkway and it is a beautiful ride for the old westy. It starts at the horseshoe cove campground on the back side of lake santeetlah and travels 20-30 miles through the mountains over to tellico plains. Me and my wife go to this part of the country often to camp and hike. Check it out if ya get the chance.


New member
moving to asheville nc

anyone from that area?have any ideas on housing for sale neighborhoods areas to avoid i have a wife and son and a dog moving from the arctic tundra of maine.any advice would be great


New member
sounds like a great time! I've only driven through those parts, beautiful. Until I get some time off, gotta just do "vicarious" camping....
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