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  1. Default Seeking Some Advice

    Hey All,

    So, this summer some friends and I are planning a road trip. It was my idea so I've kind of been put in charge of planning everything out, so I'm looking for some help. None of us have ever gone on a road trip, so we just want to make sure what we're planning so far makes sense.
    Right now, we're thinking of going to the Great Smoky Mountains in Tennessee. Is this a place that is worth driving to? We're coming from northern New Jersey so it'd probably be a 14 or so hour drive. We're more than willing to drive that far if it's worth it. So, anyone that has ever been there or knows anything about it, it would be greatly appreciated if you could leave some feedback about the location. If anyone knows of a place closer that is just as good or better, please let me know. Secondly, I was wondering if anyone could provide some times of the year that would be best to go. Obviously, we'd like to go when the least amount of people will be there, and when the heat isn't excruciating. That's all the questions I have...for now. Thanks so much for any help you can provide. I sincerely appreciate any input.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Western/Central Massachusetts

    Default Welcome!

    Welcome to the RoadTrip America Forum!

    You haven't even left on your trip yet I sense trouble in the air. It sounds as though your friends aren't necessarily that "in" to taking this trip, since they've left all of the details up to you. A successful trip of this kind requires that the participants have some form of input into the details. You and your friends may want to take our RoadTrip compatibility quiz.

    As far as a destination, what types of things are you in to doing? It sounds like natural attractions, national parks, etc. How much time do you have for your trip? If you wanted a shorter weekend trip, perhaps the Adirondack Mountains in New York would be your style? Or a loop through New England? There are so many places to go and see - it really depends on interests, time, and budget, three things which we do not have any information about currently.

  3. Default

    Thanks for the reply! Actually, my friends are all very excited for the trip, it's just hard for them to get motivated this far in advanced. Also, I tend to be a little controlling at times, so I kind of prefer working all the details out. :-)

    Sorry for the lack of clarity in the original post. However, we most definitely want to see natural attractions. We're not looking to visit major cities, famous buildings, or really anything man made. As for the New England suggestion...that would be awesome, except I go to college in Boston and would really like to explore a part of the country I've never seen before, hence the reason I was thinking about the south. We have about 7-10 days to do what we want, which I hope would be enough to make going to Tennessee worth it. I think with four people taking shifts driving, making the drive down in one day would be possible. We have not really discussed budget too thoroughly yet, though. Is there any ballpark estimate you could provide for a 10 day trip down there? I know fuel costs are hard to calculate, so even if you could give an estimate without fuel costs, that would be helpful. I'm just not sure how much to expect to spend on food and other supplies. We won't be spending anything on souvenirs or anything outside the basics, and we already have a tent and other gear (pots, pans, etc) so hopefully that'll cut some costs back. Again, any help you'd be able to provide would be awesome. Thanks again.

  4. #4

    Default Points to ponder

    Hello borntorun516,

    You'll have difficulty eliciting qualitative proclamations from RTA Forum regulars as to whether a particular destination is "worth it" or not. For destinations and routes alike, beauty and value are in the eyes of the beholders.

    That said, the Smokies are awesome. There are probably no "least traveled" parts of the summer in the most-visited National Park in the country, so expect crowds. Temperature should not be an issue at elevations above, say, 3,000-3,500'. It gets downright cold at night from 4,000' on up. The Smokies and nearby portions of the Blue Ridge hold the highest elevations east of the Mississippi at just under 6,800', so lots of hiking and camping opportunities are to be had at cool elevations.

    Astride the TN-NC border, the more heavily-developed neighboring areas are Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg, TN, chockablock full of touristy attractions if you like that kind of thing. There is plenty of solitude in the Park itself, and particularly in the National Forest lands on the NC side of it.

    I'd have a look at some whitewater rafting at any of 3 locations in the region: The Nantahala River, the Ocoee River, and the Nolichucky River. Each is run by a variety of outfitters, with the Nantahala Outdoor Center covering all 3.

    The long drive down I-81 from Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, PA brings you through the Poconos and the Shenandoah Valley, then in between the Blue Ridge and the Alleghneys and into East Tennessee.

    Along the way you'll parallel the Blue Ridge Parkway and Skyline Drive through Shenandoah National Park and the National Forest lands south of the NP. Those locations are good and closer to Jersey options if the Smokies are too far.

    Be aware the Smokies are bear country, so you'll need to read up on preventative food handling requirements for campers.

    Enjoy planning and taking your RoadTrip!


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