The Great Smoky Mountains are a mountain range rising along the TN-NC border in the southeastern U.S. They are a subrange of the Appalachian Mountains. The range is commonly called the Smoky Mountains. The name is often shortened to the Great Smokies due to the ever-present morning fog, which was still there at mid-day on our travels.
The Great Smokies are home to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which protects most of the range and covers 522,427 acres of endless ridges of never-ending forests.
The park was established in 1934, and, with over 11 million visits per year, it is the most visited national park in the U.S out of 59 national parks. It’s open all day, every day of the year; however, some facilities and roads shut down in winter. (The second most heavily visited national park is Grand Canyon, third is Yosemite, and fourth is Yellowstone.)
Natural fog often hangs over the range and gives the mountains their distinctive bluish tint which looks like smoke. The fog results when vapor is released from the area's vegetation and molecules that make up the gas scatter blue light from the sky. The Cherokees called this “blue smoke.”
While we didn't get the chance to spend extended time in the park, just driving through a portion and seeing some views was awe-inspiring. Thankfully, the weather was great too. An extended drive is definitely on our "to do" list for a future road trip.