GREAT SMOKY MOUNTAINS: home of bears, hiking, off-road driving and hot tubs

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We visited The Smokies in May 2012 at the end of our East Coast road trip. Located at the border of Tennessee and North Carolina, the second largest national park of the States reminded us of the French Vosges. We had two days to discover the park, but take more time if possible, because The Smokies are prettier than Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman. Damn pretty that is.

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The best way  to discover GSMNP according to Kokomode is to rent a cabin in the woods. Nature is calling, baby. How? Ask Google: the offer is enormous. We can suggest Townsend as your home base. There’s not much to see or do in this small town, but it is ideally located to visit Cades Cove Loop, highlight of GSMNP and home of the famous black bear.
If you don’t spot a black bear on this 11-mile loop you’re either extremely unlucky or, more likely, blinder than Stevie Wonder at night. On the downside: you won’t be alone in high season: get in line to take a picture.

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Another big plus of renting a cabin near The Smokies: most of them come with a barbecue and an outdoor hot tub. Life can be hard, sealing the day with some excellent barbecue ribs and counting stars in warm water drinking a Bud. Our cabin was named ‘Alone at Last’, which gives you an idea about the surroundings.

Click here to book this cabin

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Hikers will be happier than clowns on Prozac in the Smokies, but also off-road riders can taste a slice of heaven. Next to the visitors centre half way Cades Cove Loop, owners (or even better renters) of an SUV can go wild on Parson Branch Road. This 8-mile dirt road takes you deep into the woods, through water, over steep rocks and finds his end on Tail of the Dragon. This 11-mile road with 318 curves (we didn’t count them, we’re not Rain Man) is the wet dream of motor cyclers, but equally attractive on four wheels … unless you try to beat last nights hangover. Attention: always check with a ranger if Parson Branch Road is open. If you get stuck half way, there is no way back and you’ll end up as a bear’s lunch…

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