Smoky Mountain National Park is the most visited of all the National Parks. Therefore, I tend to avoid it. The reality is everyone crowds onto 441 and every place worth stopping is packed with cars.
The National Park only takes a portion of the Smokies. There’s the Cherokee National Forest and other preserves and parks. BTW, there is a difference between a National Park and a National Forest. No dispersed camping in the former and Parks are much more tightly regulated.
BTW, for veterans, you can get a free Golden Pass for National Parks HERE.
I use my short trips into the Smokies not just for enjoyment, but to shake out my gear. There are a lot of people who have nice looking Grab-n-Go bags and other equipment but have never actually used a lot of it. Just setting up a tent can be challenging if you’ve never done it (speaking from experience—we never carried tents in Special Forces, no matter how tough the weather).
For this trip I went south toward the TN-GA border then cut in to the Cohutta Wilderness Area, which is the largest wilderness east of the Mississippi with more than 40,000 acres. It’s south of the Smoky Mountain National Park, east of Chattanooga and north of Atlana. It straddles the border and abuts the Cherokee, Nantahala and Chattahoochee Natl Forests, so there’s a lot of elbow room as Daniel Boon likes to say.
I was first introduced to this a few years ago when talking to someone in the parking lot who was admiring my Jeep. Or Cool Gus. Or both. He mentioned a thing called the Georgia Traverse. I’ve driven the entire traverse and much more. Technically, it’s not particularly hard, although there are some very bumpy sections.
This week’s trip covered 237 miles, at an average speed of 17.3 miles per house and a total ascent of 15,451 feet. Love my Gaia app. I’m not slow, I just get there. Plus, I have to stop a lot to let Scout recon.
I’ll be doing some videos this next week to show how my Jeep is configured for off the grid (including a solar panel on the roof and backup batteries). Nothing but good times ahead.
The Green Beret Preparation and Survival Guide. Updated as of October 2020. Also in Kindle Unlimited.
I’ve also just published The Green Beret Guide to Seven Great Disasters (1).