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Sunrise spots

Chillicothe, Ohio
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for Ohio, Sandusky
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Sunrise spots

The hubby and I are celebrating 5 year anniversary this fall, so we're coming down for the long Labor Day weekend, sans kids. No kids means we can do the tougher stuff, like longer, harder hikes and long day trips (kids are too young to tolerate, 2 a 6 months).

So, I've done sunrise at Clingmans Dome. I've told the hub I want to do a sunrise breakfast someplace. Is Clingmans the best spot? Or are there other places where watching the sunrise is good,too?

I was hoping to make it a long day in the park, from where ever we watch the sunrise, then drive to Cataloochee. If we were to do sunrise at CD, how long would it take to drive to Cataloochee? Would the best route be to go through NC on the Blue Ridge Parkway to 19 then to 276?

Chattanooga...
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1. Re: Sunrise spots

Sunrise? What's that? I think I remember seeing that back in my Army days...

I used AAA to check from Cherokee to Suttontown NC, the closest town to Cataloochee; it said 31 miles and 53 minutes via US19. I couldn't figure out how to make it use Blue Ridge Parkway, but the numbers are probably comparable, although you'll likely want to stop at several of the overlooks on the Parkway, thus adding some time. So add maybe 45 minutes to go from Clingman's to the Parkway, and another 20 to actually get into the park at Cataloochee, you're looking at 2 hours. That's just driving straight thru, but since you'll be in position to get a real early start, that still puts you into Cataloochee mid-morning sometime. These are kinda rough numbers; maybe SmokyBob or Bluecuzco or someone can refine them some.

Another suggestion would be to go from G'burg through Cosby and Foothills Parkway, then I-40 to NC exit 20, and into Cataloochee that way on another day. You could take in the sunrise from one of the pull-outs on Foothills Parkway, although Clingman's is probably your best bet for sunrise. That's probably about a 2 hour drive also, but breakfast would be about half-way. That would leave you free to do the Charlie's Bunion hike or Alum Cave or something else like that on your Clingman's day.

I'm glad this forum has apparently stirred up more interest in Cataloochee, but there's no getting around the fact that it's just tough to get to, especially from the TN side.

Wish I was in...
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2. Re: Sunrise spots

My favorite sunrise spot other than Clingmans Dome, is the Oconaluftee Valley Overlook. The parking area for this overlook will be on your right a little over a half a mile after Newfound Gap, towards Cherokee. It is a very large parking area, so you can't miss it. The views are really nice there, and the sun rises right up the middle of the mountains.

I would give approx 2-2 1/2 hours to get to Cataloochee from this overlook. It really depends on how much you stop and see along the way.

I think the best (and definitely most scenic) route would be Blue Ridge Parkway to 19 to 276. I would also recommend a stop at Soco Falls along this route. This is a great roadside waterfall. It is very unique in that it is actually 2 separate waterfalls in one place. Here's a photo from our recent trip:

…myphotoalbum.com/view_photo.php…

When you exit the Blue Ridge Parkway to get on 19, turn and head back towards Cherokee. You will drive only about 1 mile (maybe 1.5 miles) and you will see a very small sign on your right that says "Soco Falls 0.5." The next parking area you see on your left is the parking for the falls. The trail leads down to a observation deck where you can see one of the falls. While the views from the deck are nice, the best view of both falls are from the base. There is another trail leading down to the base from the observation deck, but it is a very steep grade so you will need to be very careful. When we were there recently, someone had tied a cable to a tree, so we used it to climb down to the bottom. The view of the falls is worth the effort IMO.

Tn
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3. Re: Sunrise spots

My favorite is CD but it can be very cold up there and the other place that firefighterzgrl mentioned is one of my favorite pull offs. When I saw the sunrise at Clingmans there were many photographers with the big cameras and soon as the sun was up all the way I went down to the pull off and many of them were down there.

Some times you are above clouds at CM even in the parking lot!

travel.webshots.com/album/561436573EwJjNT

Boston...
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4. Re: Sunrise spots

Driving up to Clingman's would add about forty minutes to your drive (round trip). There are three nice overlooks after Newfound Gap, though I forget if they face in the proper direction and get any views of the rise at all. (Upon reflection I'm pretty sure they all face west.) From the park, def take the Blue Ridge Parkway. Soco Falls looks like a cool stop, something for my dad and I to do on our prospective Cataloochee trip this fall. I think it takes (with no stops) a little less than an hour to get to Cove Creek Road. You'll have to look specifically for "Cove Creek", as there are no signs there that say that this happens to be a park entrance. I think it's about fifteen minutes to get into Cataloochee from there. On the way up the road switchbacks on what feels like a castle wall protecting this little known valley in the park. Quite a cool feeling.

So without adding in stop time I think you're looking at about two hours total, as Smokies Hiker said.

For a change of scenery (if you wish) and a little faster driving, take I-40, the Foothills Parkway (east), and 321 back to Gatlinburg. Or, enjoy BRP and 441 again. :)

Kristian

Tn
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5. Re: Sunrise spots

In my link from picture #95 threw 118 are from that first pull off pass Clingmans Dome Road on the right.

I would love to see a sunrise from the Chrerohala Skyway but it is kinda far to drive in the morning. I think I will stay over there by it one of these times.

leftcoast
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6. Re: Sunrise spots

There is a sunrise spot popular with photographers on the Foothills Parkway (western section). From Townsend, head west on 321 to the Parkway. Heading south (the only way you can go by car) on the Foothills Parkway, pull off at the first overlook on the left. It is better at the southern end of the overlook parking lot than the first.

I'd second the earlier responders suggestion for Oconaluftee Overlook.

If you're headed to Cataloochee, then the Oconluftee Overlook will be closer.

Tn
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7. Re: Sunrise spots

Foothills Parkway would be wonderful if staying in Townsand or want less people around! I had not thought of it!

Boston...
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8. Re: Sunrise spots

Yeah, but you'd be adding four extra hours of driving on a trip that's long enough anyway...

Wish I was in...
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9. Re: Sunrise spots

That original link I posted to Soco Falls no longer works. I was editing my photos, and I deleted the original.

Here is the new link: …myphotoalbum.com/view_photo.php…

10. Re: Sunrise spots

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