We did the Smoky Mountain Tour on Monday, our first full day in Pigeon Forge. The tour office is located in the back corner of the red roofed old outlet mall on parkway, not to hard to find. The office was littered with crayons, a bag of cat food and other items, so I was thrown a little off guard because it seemed unprofessional and could use a bit of tlc.
We were able to use their bathroom facilities before boarding the bus and they provided us with some bottled water for the trip. The normal bus they use had some issues with the a/c so they used another bus without a pa. There were only 8 people on the trip we were the youngest at 35 and 36. The other people looked to be around 40-65. We had plenty of room on the bus to sit wherever and could hear just fine without a pa.
Our tour guide Jim was great. He also works in the park and has been a guide for many years and he is extremely knowledgeable about the history, flora and fauna of the terrain of the park. We stopped at some overlooks on our way up to the Clingmans Dome park for photos. We were not able to climb to the dome in the interest of time. (It's a half mile steep hike to the top, we did it on our own and it is still quite a hike for people who are in ok shape).
We stopped at the site where the park was dedicated where you can straddle the Tennessee and North Carolina state line and climb up to the top of the monument. The trailhead to the Appalachian Trail is there also.
We also stopped at the Sugarlands visitor center where we picked up some trip planning materials and a spent a couple minutes in the gift shop.
Jim our driver was very friendly and gave us some valuable information about the park and surrounding areas which really helped us make the most of our trip. We saw him later in the week at the park gift shop and he recognized us and talked to us again for a minute, which was really nice.
This tour is a great way to see the park with out having to drive the roads yourself, to get a grip on the layout of the park and to just enjoy the spectacular views. The price is reasonable and I felt like it was a great use of our time. It was relaxing to take in some nature. We are from Michigan, so we are used to the cooler temperatures on top of the mountain, but I would say take a sweatshirt or light jacket because it was considerably cooler once you reach the top. There are restroom stops along the way also. The tour was from 1-4 and time just flew by. thank you!
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