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  1. Default Chicago to the Smoky Mountains sites to see

    Looking for suggested sites to see along the way to the Smokies as we drive from Chicago.
    Any suggestion is appreciated

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default So Many Variables

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    If you've spent any time on this site and looked at the advice given other RoadTrippers, you know that there are no simple 'one size fits all' answers to such questions. To begin with, what anyone might recommend would depend at a minimum on how much time you have for the trip, what your interests are, and who is "we". You've told us none of those. So any advice you're going to get is going to be pretty generic.

    The main thing is how much time you have. You could conceivably make the drive in a day, and if that's the case then you'll have no time for anything but a few R&R breaks near the highway. Anything else would require time for both the detour to get there as well as the time to visit the site. Some of the major attractions that you could see on a two day drive would include the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Mammoth Cave National Park, and Cumberland Gap National Historical Park. But of course since some of those venues are well to the east of your direct route and some are well to the west, you couldn't see all of them in only two days.


  3. Default

    I realized immediately that I did not include any real information. "We" is my husband and myself. We are middle aged and enjoy hiking, not mountain climbing. We have about 6 days for the trip and I'm trying to figure out if this is too ambitious of a trip for that amount of time. We love the National Parks and seeing the country, horseback riding, etc. We are thinking of leaving on Sept. 21st. Hope this information helps. Thank you so much.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Six Days Should Work

    I think you can make a very nice, relaxed, and enjoyable six day RoadTrip out of Chicago and including the Great Smoky Mountains. As I noted, it would be a full day's drive down and back by the most direct route, but I don't think that would be the most suited to your needs. Instead I'd suggest that you take two days down, two days in the Smokies and two days back by an entirely different route. Described in a clockwise direction, such a loop trip might look something like this:

    Take I-65 down through Indiana and enjoy an afternoon stroll through Muscatatuck or Big Oaks National Wildlife Refuges in southern Indiana. Then from Louisville, take I-64 over to Lexington KY, the heart of Blue Grass horse country and home to a dozen or more riding stables. It's also about as good as anywhere to spend the night. Then on Day 2, you could easily include side trips to and stops at both Cumberland Gap National Historical Park and Mount Rogers National Recreation Area before finishing up in the Great Smoky Mountain are for a couple of days.

    The trip home could include visits to the Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area, and Mammoth Cave National Park on the first day of that drive and historic sites such as New Harmony and the Lincoln Log Cabin State Historic Site on the second day with an overnight somewhere around Evansville IN.

    You can, of course, make the loop in the opposite direction or make totally different stops, but that should give you some ideas as to what's available and what you can do with six days.


  5. Default Chicago to Smoky Mountains

    Great help for driving and where to stop on each way.
    I'm also wondering if it would be more advantageous to stay around Gatlinburg or Newport, TN.
    I found great places in each location. Gatlinburg sounds touristy, but near a lot of activities.
    Newport is a bit more secluded and close to a different entrance to the park.
    Do you have any suggestions for which would be better. We are middle aged, love travel, but hate the crowds. We're planning on leaving this Saturday 9/21.
    Last edited by mstobias; 09-18-2013 at 08:14 AM. Reason: forgot information

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    Newport is not near any park entrances. There are 3 entrances - Gatlinburg, Townsend, and Cherokee.

    Gatlinburg is going to be very "touristy" and probably crowded. Staying in Newport will probably be a lot more peaceful, but you will have to go through Gatlinburg to get into the park.

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