How lovely to wake up in Gatlinburg this morning to a beautiful, sunny day! We had the entire day free to enjoy the area, so we left the touristy downtown area and headed up to Great Smoky Mountain National Park located immediately behind the town.
A wonderful way to enjoy the park is to drive Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail, a narrow, winding 5.5 mile-long, one-way, loop road through the dense forest of the Great Smoky Mountains. The speed limit is 10 mph, so there is plenty of opportunities to enjoy the breathtaking views of the rushing stream the narrow road parallels along the way.
If you drive this trail, make sure to roll down your window throughout the duration, because the sound of the stream is relaxing and beautiful! There are also places to pull off and park, so we took those opportunities to shoot photos and do a little bit of hiking to see some of the old log cabins and other historic buildings along the way. Unfortunately, there wasn’t enough parking, so we missed out on hiking the Grotto Falls Trail. Oh well, next time!
We also didn’t see any black bears, even though there is an alert in effect due to the increased bear activity. That’s ok, at least we saw “Lawrence Elk” yesterday!
After enjoying the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail, we returned to the city of Gatlinburg to drive another trail: The Great Smoky Arts & Crafts Community. This was an 8-mile loop of local artisan studios and shops located in the lush green hills outside of bustling Parkway Drive, a touristy main street we have been avoiding. Thankfully, we figured out the back way to the convention center from our motel, so we can avoid having to drive along Parkway Drive to and from our craft show. (After making the mistake of driving it into town yesterday, we vowed never to drive it again!)
Tomorrow, we return to the convention center to begin our 5-day stint at the Gatlinburg Craftsmen’s Fair where Bruce and I will be selling his fused glass bowls, plates, candle holders, crosses (we are in the bible belt, after all), and jewelry.
Meanwhile, today ended with a swim at the Gatlinburg Community Center pool while Bruce relaxed next door at the library and read while petting their resident cat.