Cades Cove, Great Smoky Mountain NP, TN

Cades Cove is a beautiful valley and a popular destination for wildlife viewing at the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. We didn’t get much luck during our visit — except for a few cows and horses, the only wildlife we kind of see is a running deer in the woods. But Cades Cove by itself, with the endless mountains and grasslands and a couple of cabins along the way, is already pretty fabulous, although late summer is probably not the best timing for visitors yet. Imaging how gorgeous it would be in autumn,  with trees and shrubs being colored in different ways and interleaving with each other!


Chimney Tops Trail, Great Smoky Mountain NP, TN

First day’s task, hiking. The Chimney Tops Trail is listed as one of the top three “must-go”s at the Great Smoky Mountain on TripAdvisor and it naturally becomes our choice. It’s a pretty enjoyable walk in the woods, with quite a few waterfall sights along the trail, until the very end of it — to see the summit, you have to actually “climb” the rocks, literally on your hands and knees!


Parkway, Gatlinburg, TN

Before the trip, which is my first visit to a National Park in US, I always thought we were going to have a trip in North Carolina. It turned out that I was completely wrong — the Great Smoky Mountain sits on the border of North Carolina and Tennessee, and we actually drove for almost five hours from Charlotte to Gatlinburg, a resort city in Tennessee with the nickname “gateway to the Great Smoky Mountain”.  The night was falling when we arrived there, but Gatlinburg surely surprised us. With all kinds of candy stores, chocolate factories, restaurants, cinema and theaters along the parkway as well as all the bright lights and logos shining,  this lively small town looked just like a paradise for kids, families and all the visitors.