Old Highway 284 – Still A Beast Of Road Tripping
Regardless of your holiday fantasies, whether you love to sit and watch the sun set quietly or walk around to see nature at its finest or a strenuous hike around the ridges is what tips your fancy, then the Great Smoky Mountains National Park Travel has you covered. Established on the 15th of June, 1934 amidst numerous political, economic and cultural obstacles, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park has since become one of the most visited National Parks in the world with over eleven million visitors annually.
The park sits on over two thousand square kilometer at the border between Tennessee and North Carolina on Cove Creek Road (also known as Old Highway 284). The beautiful landscape listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site encompasses streams, rivers, waterfalls, vast lush forests, year round boom of wildflowers among other natural endowments.
The natural diversity and the ambiance of the Great Smoky Mountains makes it a preferred destination for many of us who love to explore nature. Its location in Cove Creek road is apparently responsible for the various hospitality services in around the national park. Just in case you be going there any time soon, in the later future or you just want to hear a firsthand experience, then continue reading.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park is undoubtedly one of the most interesting adventure destination, from its first 7 mile drive-in mostly paved windy dual-lane road which spans along a scenic vast rural valley, you know you are in for a good time. As you proceed beyond seven mile or there about, the road becomes paved with shinning gravel.
Even though the access road is labelled a dual carriage, it’s barely as wide as a standard single lane road which means in some cases, there may be need to pull over for other approaching vehicles to have their way and vice versa.
Tip – I’d advise that you don’t visit the park with travel trailers or large RVs as the road hugs the mountain side on some curvy portion of the road with steep drop-offs.
After about nine miles of driving, you discover you are back on a nice paved dual-carriage road again as you get closer to the Cataloochee Valley. The paved road serves as a short cut to locating the historic ancient Cataloochee historic buildings. However, if you choose to take the alternative longer route to Cataloochee, you should continue to drive through the unpaved road at Cove Creek along Crosby, Tennessee which will roughly cost you five mile more than the short cut.
As it ought to be, the driving signs and explanatory labeling of sites at the Great Smoky Mountain park will take charge from the point you drive in. A driving tour around the beginning section of the once-thriving historic Cataloochee community presents a nice view of their school, church, barns, houses, farms and market buildings which used to house about 1,200 residents as in 1910. At this point, you can decide to stop driving and walk around most of the buildings.
If you decide to get down from your vehicle, beware of the wildlife around there with elk, deer and wild turkey forming the majority of wildlife around the park. After exploring the valleys & the community, if you are still in the mood for more drive, you can continue to drive from Cataloochee along the unpaved road at Cove Creek down to Big Creek campground along the Tennessee – North Carolina line, where you can easily link to 1-40 at the Exit 451 at the Tennessee side.
There as so much fun to relate on how much fun I had at the Great Smoky Mountains park in a few words. Regardless of the time of the year you choose to visit, be rest assured of a time you will never regret spending.