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Charleston to GSM National Park

Sheffield, United...
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Charleston to GSM National Park

As part of a road trip we shall be leaving Charleston heading for Gatlinburg Tn.

Google and Mapquest give the route on I26 via Ashville NC, but we prefer to keep away from interstates and cities/large towns.

Looking at a map would we be ok taking US78/178 to NC or is there a more scenic route. Also what - if anything - are must sees on the route.

At NC we would head for Cherokee then drive through Great Smokey National Park to Gatlinburg.

We are interested in wildlife and scenic beauty.

Any help/information would be greatly appreciated

Beaufort, South...
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1. Re: Charleston to GSM National Park

Hi AngelaG,

If you are planning on doing this journey in 1 day, then I strongly suggest that you stay mostly on I-26. In truth, there is not much to see on the side roads paralleling I-26. Where I would get off I-26 is at I-385 and head toward Greenville.

Greenville would be a pleasant stopping point, and you could get out of the car to walk about the downtown area (I-385 takes you right into the CBD). You could have lunch along the attractive main street or pack a picnic and enjoy it in the Falls Park on the Reedy River, right by the lovely waterfall in the middle of town.

From there, you would hop onto US 25, which would take you into the mountains, where you would join I-26 just south of Hendersonville. Hendersonville too is an attractive community, smaller than Greenville, though.

If you stayed on the Interstate, you're looking at a solid 5 to 6 hours (assuming no traffic or bad weather through the mountains, which does happen from time to time). With a Greenville stopover of about 90 minutes, 8 hours is more realistic.

If you have two days to make the trip, then consider overnighting in either Greenville or Asheville and then take a tour of Biltmore Estate near the Asheville area as part of your day.

Sheffield, United...
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2. Re: Charleston to GSM National Park

Hi beaufort-tiger

Thank you very much for your reply.

We like to take our time on our trips (which is why we keep away from interstates), so I was planning on at least 1 overnight stop - which Greenville sounds good for.

I was planning on avoiding Asheville and heading straight for Cherokee for GSMNP. We have visited the park before, but whilst in the area I would at least like to drive through and hopefully see bears!

I will look into the Biltmore Estate.

Thank you once again for the information.

Greensboro, North...
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3. Re: Charleston to GSM National Park

Asheville is a beautiful town and Biltmore is worth the trip.

When is your trip? Bears sleep in winter and are awake in summer.

Beaufort, South...
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4. Re: Charleston to GSM National Park

Hi Angela,

That being said... you give yourself a little more time to explore. I have three suggestions beyond exploring downtown Greenville.

1. Congaree National Park - just south of Columbia, you can explore some of the trails over the cypress swamp in the park. A few hours can give you a good feel and understanding of the park area.

2. Columbia - You can dip into Columbia for a little bit and check out the South Carolina State House, a beautiful building that offers tours throughout the day. Nearby are the grounds of the University of South Carolina. You can also take a stroll along the Congraree Riverfront Park as well.

3. BMW Factory Tour - while in Greenville, if you are interested in automobile manufacturing, BMW does an excellent tour of its state-of-the-art factory where they produce SUVs.

Sheffield, United...
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5. Re: Charleston to GSM National Park

Thank you for your replies.

shanklemsw,

We shall most probably be travelling the second and third weeks in June, so the bears should be awake then!!

beaufort-tiger

I have looked into your suggestions and we have decided to head for Columbia the first night - not far from Charleston I know but it will give us time to explore Congaree National Park on the way.

Then we will head for Asheville for 1 night and visit the Biltmore Estate. Both the short drives will give us time to explore the towns as well.

Which route should we take from Asheville through GSMNP? Will we have to head for either Cherokee or Gatlinburg to gain access, or is there an entrance nearer Asheville? On our last visit we entered via Cherokee which is what I had in mind for this drive through, but as we are staying a night in Asheville we may give the park more time if there is a more convenient entrance.

I think we will give the BMW tour a miss - unless of course they hand out freebies - lol!

Angela

Beaufort, South...
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6. Re: Charleston to GSM National Park

Hi Angela,

Looks like a good itinerary. I still would try to visit Greenville though if you get the chance. If you're looking for a nice place to stay in Columbia, the Inn at USC is a beautiful, comfortable location.

As to the questions about the GSM NP, I'm unfortunately not as familiar with the park, but others I'm sure are as well. You may want to post this question in the North Carolina or Tennessee travel forums.

Best wishes,

BT

Edited: 19 February 2011, 15:22
Winston-Salem, NC
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7. Re: Charleston to GSM National Park

Not sure how you'd weave these stops into your itinerary if you chose to visit them (probably by hooking onto US Hwy 64 somewhere along there, I guess), but the towns of Saluda, Hendersonville/Flat Rock and Brevard could be interesting little detours for you.

Saluda is a quaint little town nestled down in sort of a hollow right off of the beaten I-26 path with some neat little shops along its main thoroughfare. Brevard has Pisgah National Forest and several natural waterfall attractions to visit nearby and if your trip is in summertime there's also Sliding Rock nearby, which is a gently sloping waterfall you can slide down to the bottom pool (wear denim shorts though). The Hendersonville/Flat Rock area has the poet Carl Sandburg's homesite, which has a few hiking paths that lead out to scenic views.

If you have time to take a little bit more of a detour east on Hwy 64 you can drive over to the Chimney Rock/Lake Lure area. Chimney Rock Park has the scenic vertical cliff waterfall and you can hike along the trails where the climactic scenes in "Last of the Mohicans" were filmed. Lake Lure, the town nestled at the foot of Chimney Rock, is also interesting to explore.

Again, not sure how conveniently these attractions would tie into your itinerary route, but they do offer some scenic natural beauty.

Macon, Georgia
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8. Re: Charleston to GSM National Park

Hi Angela

You are getting some great advice. Once you get done seeing the sites in Asheville,you are real lucky. Coming the second week in June you have to take the Blue Ridge Parkway from Asheville to the GSM park. It is about a 3 hour drive if you stop to see the beautiful scenery. Coming that time in June the Flame Azaleas,Mountain Laurel and the Rhododenruns will be in full bloom. It is quite a breathtaking ride. It only last for 2 weeks and you are LUCKY enough to see it.

Sheffield, United...
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9. Re: Charleston to GSM National Park

Thank you EPIcurean 98 and Popsoda for your input, all information is much appreciated. I apologise for not thanking you sooner, but I did not receive an email from TA regarding your replies and have only just checked back on my post.

We will try and fit everything in as we may be able to add another day or two to our trip.

Edited: 23 February 2011, 11:50
10. Re: Charleston to GSM National Park

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