First thank you for any comments, suggestions, and ideas.
Second, I'm in the very first pre-planning stage of this trip to the Great Smoky Mountains. I know absolutely nothing about the area. However after reading through other posts I have a tentative plan. My primary purpose is to photograph the fall colors. So I'm looking at coming in the 3rd week of October. I'm planning on 4 days for the park.
I will fly into Greenville SC and spend the night at a girlfriends house. From there I will be going through Cherokee to the park entrance on the eastern side. I'm trying to decide whether I should go all the way to Gatlinberg and spend the night there or just stay in Cherokee and do all my driving into the park from there. I just got back from Yellowstone and stayed the entire time in West Yellowstone but a lessen learned would have been to say there for the lower loop and then in Gardiner for the upper loop. The drives were long and I had to backtrack a few times. I don't mind changing hotels. I also don't mind back-tracking if it isn't too far of a drive. I'm just not sure how big the park actually is and how fast it would be to get through each day. I'm pretty thrifty on hotels but I don't want to stay in a flea bag motel either. Which location could I find the best selection of inexpensive hotels?
In addition, does anyone have any favorite fall color locations?
Finally, after reading other posts I am very interested in the Biltmore Estate and possibly going to one of Paula Deens restaurants. The Biltmore estate I found tons of information on. I'm sure I can get info on Paula Deen's restaurant. Does anyone have any other suggestions for anything around the Greenville SC area since I will spend the last few days there. I'm a foodie, photographer, wine snob and history nut! Well in addition to a National Park Junkie!
I will be traveling solo and look forward to this trip! I have not made my travel arrangements yet but will do so in the next day (sale prices are going on now) so everything is still open.
Thank you for any help and suggestions.