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Traveling through the mountains a good idea??

Houston, Texas
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Traveling through the mountains a good idea??

I am planning to stay in Gatlinburg with my wife and 2 preschoolers the week of new years for a few days. Our plan is to enjoy the town and then drive south (3.5 hours?) all the way through the Great Smoky Mountains and into GA to a little town called Hartwell for a wedding. My biggest worry is the weather and road closures. I was hoping someone could throw some tips or advice or ideas my way to help make my trip a fun and safe one. Thanks in advance.

http://goo.gl/maps/7JKGd

unionville tenn.
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1. Re: Traveling through the mountains a good idea??

I live in Tn. and we rarely have weather that would cause road closures.Occasionally we have had snow or ice that is really bad but it is unusual. Should you encounter one of these rarieties, going from Gatlinburg to Ga.. you should be able to travel mostly interstates which should be in pretty good shape.About the only problems you would have barring a storm would be mountain roads such as Clingman Dome .

Townsend, Tennessee
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for Townsend, Great Smoky Mountains National Park
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2. Re: Traveling through the mountains a good idea??

The google route through the Park , Cherokee and Franklin to Hartwell is the shortest/quickest assuming good road conditions. It does take you up and over the top of the GSMNP on Hwy 441 with elevations above 6,000 ft. and that road does close from time to time during the winter depending on snow/icy conditions. Suggest you keep an eye on the weather and if there is no snow/ice, the trip on 441 should be fine. If 441 is closed or other weather concerns at that time, take I-40 to Asheville, NC, then Greeneville and 85 south into Hartwell. All interstate once you hit I-40 east out of Gatlinburg.

Houston, Texas
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3. Re: Traveling through the mountains a good idea??

Thanks for your response. I really appreciate it.

Do I need to bring tire chains? I'm driving a 2011 Ford Explorer.

nashville
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4. Re: Traveling through the mountains a good idea??

couldn't hurt... but, right off the bat, coming out of Gatlinburg into the park the road will be closed if they're bad enough to warrant chains.

Townsend, Tennessee
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for Townsend, Great Smoky Mountains National Park
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5. Re: Traveling through the mountains a good idea??

If the road conditions are so bad that you need chains, the road will probably either be closed or you won't want to be on it trying to avoid all of the other people that don't have them. And you will want to be on the interstate in that situation anyway. Travelling over I-40 from Knoxville to Asheville in heavy snow and ice - the worst has been that one of the 2 eastbound lanes was closed and the other was well salted/sanded, there was plenty of traffic and none of the cars had chains. In the Park, road conditions approaching the need for chains will cause road closure.

Victoria
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6. Re: Traveling through the mountains a good idea??

Sorry to piggyback on this post, but it's very similar to my question. We're planning to take a similar route, the same way through the park, but going from Nashville - Charleston. We have one night to kill in between leaving Nashville and arriving in Charleston, and we were thinking of stopping for a night in Pigeon Forge/Gatlinburg. This would be around the 15th of Feb. We'll be in a rental car, not a truck or 4x4.

I know we won't have much time to see everything the park has to offer, but we just thought, since we're in the area, might as well take a quick peek at the Smokies. Is highway 441 usually alright at this time of year? Or is there a better route?

Thanks :)

Atlanta
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7. Re: Traveling through the mountains a good idea??

You would have to check the weather the day you leave Nashville. Call the national park and see if 441 is open.

If you stay in Gatlinburg and go through the park the next day, you have about an 8-9 hour drive to Charleston.

Townsend, Tennessee
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8. Re: Traveling through the mountains a good idea??

The GSMNP has a twitter feed of road conditions available off of this link nps.gov/grsm/planyourvisit/temproadclose.htm . 441 will just depend on weather. If it is closed, head out of Gatlinburg or PF to the east and pick up I-40 to Asheville, then I-26 to Charleston. Depending on weather/road conditions when you approach Knoxville on I-40, consider coming 3 miles south on I-75 to exit 81 then through Lenoir City and Maryville to Townsend and enter the Park there. Then if you arrive early enough, either make the 11 mile loop around Cades Cove (closes at sunset), or take the 18 mile drive along Little River Rd over to Gatlinburg through the Park. That will take you right by Sugarlands visitor center at the junction of Little River Rd and 441 - worth a stop.

Victoria
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9. Re: Traveling through the mountains a good idea??

Excellent, thanks so much Walden & Tnoutdrsmn, for this info - exactly what I was looking for :)

10. Re: Traveling through the mountains a good idea??

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