Smokemont campground and Elkmont campground are in the Smokey’s. BTW did you know that Smoky the bears middle name is, “The”. Ha-ha. The roads are incredible in the Smokey’s. I prefer them to the Blue Ridge Parkway, (BRP). The BRP is a constant 45 MPH, and for a lot of the 469 miles, trees and undergrowth are right up to the roadway blocking the views. That and 45 MPH is a little fast when pulling the trailer on these mountain roads. For much of the BRP drive we experienced a long forty-foot tall channel of trees. It seemed boring. The Great Smoky National Park roads are slower because of the steep grades, but the RAM truck handles them nicely.
New Found Gap
On the way to Elkmont we stopped at New Found Gap. There is a large pull over highlighting a memorial dedicated to Laura Rockefeller. The gap was discovered around 1850, widened by Civil war troops and then paved in the 1930’s by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). It replaced Indian Gap, and like most trails is was probably a bison and deer path before humans traveled the Smokey Mountains.
Laura Spellman Rockefeller donated the last five million dollars to complete the park. Later North Carolina and Tennessee tax payers agreed to construct, and pay for a memorial. The design and dedication needed to be approved by the Rockefeller foundation.
The Rockefeller Memorial was completed in September 1939 and included a plaque which reads:
For the permanent enjoyment
of the people
this park was given
one half by the people and states
of North Carolina and Tennessee
and by the people of the United States of America
and one half in memory of Laura Spellman Rockefeller by the
Laura Spellman Rockefeller Memorial
founded by her husband
John D. Rockefeller.
Smokemont and Elkmont campgrounds are considered primitive camping. They do not have electric, or water connections at the campsites. Deb’s theory is that this is meant to keep people moving, and to prevent long stays. I think she is right, lots of vacationers so few campsites. For the first time in 6 months we used the water tank I incorporated into the truck box. It holds thirty-five gallons, and has a pump to push water to the travel trailer holding tank. The trailer has two deep cell batteries, and that was enough for our short two day stay; we did not have to run the generator. NICE!!
Alum Cave Nature Trail
We hiked the Alum Cave Nature Trail. It is one of the most developed, best hikes so far. From the trailhead we went as far as Gracie’s Pulpit. Story has it that Gracie would stop at this particular place and admire the view; Gracie hiked to this point up to her eighty-second birthday.
The Sinks was created as a result of a logjam. The loggers needed to free up the jam, and used a lot of dynamite in the process. So much so that the terrain was changed, and altered the flow of the river creating deep holes, which attract swimmers. Unfortunately a number of people have died at “The Sinks.”