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Is May a good time of year to visit the Smoky Mountains?

Derby
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Is May a good time of year to visit the Smoky Mountains?

My husband and I are planning a trip to the Smoky Mountains and to Asheville next year, to include the Blue Ridge Parkway, and will be flying to Atlanta from the UK, and driving up from there. We hope to stay for 3 weeks, which should give us ample time to see everything, it all sounds so beautiful!

Is May a good time to visit as I'm not sure whether there are any school holidays during that month. Any ideas on a route from Atlanta, I am not sure whether to visit Chatanooga as that looks like an easy drive up from Atlanta, and then to head to the Smoky Mountains from there! We are bound to be tired from our 9 hour flight from the UK so an easy drive would be good!!

Our trip is in the early stages of planning, so the first thing will be to book the flight in June of this year, and then start planning in earnest! I am bound to be asking you some further questions after June, so thanks in anticipation of all your help!

Sally

Tennessee
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1. Re: Is May a good time of year to visit the Smoky Mountains?

May is a great time to visit! It won't be to hot and shouldn't be to crowded. (going begining of May or middle of May) Most schools start letting out for summer break around around Memorial Day weekend (about the last weekend of May) and thats when it will start getting crowded. But if ya take a hike on one of the many trails, chances are you won't see no one!

Going up I-75 out of Atlanta is a great choice! Chattanooga is a great stop also! Lot of history there and a lot of things to see and do there too. I would suggest spending a couple of days in Chattanooga. Its only about an hour and half drive from Atlanta and if you have a 9 hour flight then it won't be that bad of a drive. HTH! Have any more questions, just ask away!

Boston...
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2. Re: Is May a good time of year to visit the Smoky Mountains?

Hello, Sally. Congratulations on your well made decision to visit the southern Appalachians! I was biking around Cades Cove Campground and hiking around Tremont (two areas inside the national park) just this morning. The area is truly remarkable in many, many ways. I'll be here, God willing, throughout the course of your research and am always happy to answer questions or engage in conversation.

As said, May is a great time to come: temperatures are warm, the leaves are out, various wildflowers and shrubs a blooming, waterfalls are doing pretty good, and it's not into the peak season yet. You'll experience even fewer crowds if you visit on weekdays.

"...which should give us ample time to see everything..."

Don't count on seeing everything; there is far too much to see in the Southern Appalachians to fit into a vacation. Great Smoky Mountains National Park alone could take three weeks of exploring, and, to quote Michael Frome, "...the Smokies composition is but one star in the Appalachian heaven from which it cannot be disembodied." But you will see a good deal won't be at all rushing.

One question: Are you planning on driving the majority of the Blue Ridge Parkway or only the portion between Oconaluftee and Asheville?

Chattanooga is worth a surprising amount of your time. Around the city are many large nature preserves that offer a kind of beauty rather different than that of the Smokies: canyons and gorges cut into plateaus instead of ridges and valleys. There's "more history" in Chattanooga than in the Smokies, to the extent that there's "more history" in any one place. While there are many old nineteenth century historic structures all throughout the park, they for me exist more to offer another way to understand the mountains and aren't so much an attraction in themselves in the same way that Chattanooga's historic sites are. Chattanooga was deeply involved in the Trail of Tears, Civil War, and early tourism industry; major sites include Chickamauga Battlefield, the forgotten Audubon Acres, and Lookout Mountain as a whole. Finally, the city also offers modern items like a new revitalized riverfront chock full of public walkways, bridges, and spaces, as well as attractions like the Tennessee Aquarium and Hunter Museum of American Art.

Here's a general idea of how I would allot time given three weeks and your itinerary. First, though the city itself isn't appealing, there are several attractions in Atlanta that are worth your time that you might be interested in. Chattanooga might take five days, depending on what specific things catch your interest and how your itinerary works out in other areas. Here's a thread you might find helpful:

tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g54946-i290-k25943…

There's a wonderful way to get to the Smokies from Chattanooga: the Cherohala Skyway. That route deserves more than a day just in itself. Then there's both the North Carolina and Tennessee sides of the Smokies, which I suppose will encompass the majority of the time in your trip. I'd give only the last few days to enjoy the BRP (a day for that) and Biltmore (a day for that) before heading back to Atlanta via Tallulah Gorge.

Kristian

Charleston
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3. Re: Is May a good time of year to visit the Smoky Mountains?

Derbylady,

There is never a bad month to visit the Smoky Mountains. In the warmer time of year, it might be warmer, but then during the cooler months, there aren't quite as many visitors. Let us know if you have any specific questions about what to see/do. We lived in Europe for 5 years growing up, and I plan on visiting again in the future. I only got to spend a week in the UK, but it was one of our best trips. You're coming from a wonderful part of the world. We're happy to have you visiting the Smokies. You'll love it!

Raymond

http://gosmoky.wordpress.com

Derby
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4. Re: Is May a good time of year to visit the Smoky Mountains?

Thank you so much for all your details and helpfulness it's much appreciated!!

Our original plans were to go to Asheville for 2 weeks and fly there via a connection (Delta) from Atlanta, but as we now realise that Chatanooga is such an interesting place, and not that far from Atlanta, we will hire a car from Atlanta ( why bother with the stress of connecting flights!!) and drive from there, to the Smokies via Chatanooga.

Kristian, our plans are to drive the Blue Ridge Parkway past Asheville up into North Carolina before driving back to Atlanta. We will be booking our flights sometime in June, so will be planning the trip in more detail after then! I have already started looking at the Chatanooga website, I didn't realise there was so much Civil War history around there, my husband will be really interested!

We live in a lovely county in England, Derbyshire, which has plenty of historical houses and pretty valleys. I am sure that there will be plenty for us to see next year, almost too much for a 3 week trip!

Sally

Cullowhee, North...
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5. Re: Is May a good time of year to visit the Smoky Mountains?

May is perhaps my favorite time of the year here in the Smokies. Chattanooga is nice and perhaps worth the detour, but it is opposite of Asheville in terms of driving.

There are many many places to visit between here and Atlanta. In Georgia there are the towns of Helen and the Little Switzerland areas, in North Carolina there are many waterfalls in Highlands, Cashiers, Brevard area of the Pisgah National Forest, all along the way to Asheville. You have 3 weeks I would encourage you to plan wisely.

The Smokies region covers well over 1,000 square miles, 2 states, perhaps a dozen or so towns. The bigger touristy areas are Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, the roads less traveled and within the heart of the Smokies are in NC from Robbinsville, to Andrews, Nantahala, Bryson City, Maggie Valley and Hot Springs.

Some good North Carolina web sites are www.greatsmokies.com, www.visitsmokies.org

Good Luck

Boston...
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6. Re: Is May a good time of year to visit the Smoky Mountains?

Yes, among other periods, Chattanooga does offer loads of Civil War history. I haven't visited Chickamauga Battlefield in a long time but hope to return soon, but that is one site where you can spend pretty much a full day.

tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g28963-i149-k20734…

Then there's Lookout Mountain, the only mountain of considerable size captured during a war in the US. (It's over a thousand feet tall, topping out at two thousand feet above sea level.) Site there include Craven's House, Reflection Riding Arboretum, Sunset Rock, Point Park, and the network of trails through the military park that covers the front and western slopes of the mountain. Beyond that there are scattered sites around town (naturally, since it was after all sieged) like Audubon Acres, spots along the Tennessee Riverwalk, and in the Tennessee River Gorge (Suck Creek Road).

With that covered you still have the early tourism sites (Rock City, Ruby Falls, Natural Rock Bridge, Point Park (again)); Trail of Tears bits (Tennessee Riverwalk again, Audubon Acres again, Blythe Ferry, the Passage and Ross's Landing); Native American history (Moccasin Bend (soon to become a national park), Audubon Acres, Fort Mountain past Chatsworth, Echota Indian Mounds on the way up from Atlanta); and the modern history of the industrialization and pollution of the city (in the seventies it was the most polluted in the entire country) and recent cleaning up then massive revitalization and rebirth involving the Tennessee Aquarium, which also has some historical exhibits.

There used to be a small but really nice history museum, but it is currently in the process of being moved. The old building has been torn down to make way for a new hotel, and the leadership is surveying downtown for the location of a newer, expanded, more innovative museum. I'm looking forward to it!

That's probably too much information, but better a deluge than nothing at all. :)

Kristian

Atlanta, GA
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7. Re: Is May a good time of year to visit the Smoky Mountains?

If you are going to be there for a couple of weeks, then driving down the Blue Ridge Parkway is definitely a good choice. You may want to go a far as Grandfather Mountain. However, part of the BRP is closed just southwest of Mt Mitchell so check to see if it open when you visit or you may have a big detour.

But it sounds like you can enjoy the Smokies and the surrounding area...western NC is very pretty. I live in Atlanta myself and while there are some decent areas in North GA, you will get higher mountains and better views in NC.

Boston...
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8. Re: Is May a good time of year to visit the Smoky Mountains?

"Decent areas" including Fort Mountain and Amicalola Falls state parks.

Black Forest
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9. Re: Is May a good time of year to visit the Smoky Mountains?

Thanks for the information. We plan a trip to the Great Smokey Mountains + the Outer Banks for June next year, too.

Derby
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10. Re: Is May a good time of year to visit the Smoky Mountains?

Thanks so much everyone for all your invaluable help and advice, I will be contating you again later on this year!!

Sally

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