- Countryside Black forest plateaux
- Country life Bluegrass, bears and blueberry pie
Hugged by the haze of mist that gives them their name, the Smoky Mountains form the southern tip of the Appalachians, both a biodiversity haven and a cradle of classic Southern Americana.
Spectacularly beautiful, riddled with waterfalls and populated with mighty pines, the Smokies are the Deep South’s own homegrown pastoral paradise. Straddling Tennessee and North Carolina, the Great Smoky Mountains are consistently America’s most visited national park, and with views like these, it’s not hard to understand why. In addition to the lush flora, diverse fauna and the jaw-dropping spectacle of the scenery, you’ll find traces of Cherokee tradition (the infamous ‘Trail of Tears’ originates in nearby Chattanooga), as well as a rich tradition of open-armed hospitality, bluegrass music, and finger-lickin’ Southern cuisine.
Do go/Don’t go
The Smoky Mountains is a fantastic year-round destination – balmy outdoorsy summers are perfect for outdoor activity, but rugging up warm for bracing hiking/fishing/riding/snowball fighting, and returning for a hot toddy in front of an open fire make this a fabulous mid-winter spot. If you’re ideal trip involves at least some laying-by-the-pool-soaking-up-the-rays, anytime from late April to early October will be perfect for you.
- Planes The Smokies are easier to get to than you might think. Knoxville’s McGhee Tyson Airport ¬– 20 minutes’ drive from the mountains– plays host to regular direct flights from Chicago | New York | Denver | Dallas | Washington and other state hubs.
- Trains The railways running through the mountains exist for novelty and nostalgia rather than getting around.
- Automobiles As with most rural pockets of America, a car (or, more dramatically, a motorbike) is by far the best way of getting around. You can hire one at the airport.
- Taxis It’s seriously rural round these parts, so flagging down a cab ain’t an option. The husband and wife team behind Smoky Mountain Taxi (+1 865 659 0151) cover the area around Sevierville, Pigeon Forge, and Gatlinburg.