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Alex Moiseyev photo and video

Friday, July 22, 2011

Day ten – Clingman's dome, Cades cove and Dixie Stampede


Our plan for the day was quite interesting – drive up to the tallest point if the mountains (Clingman's dome), visit Cades cove and finish the day at dinner show, but weather has made some corrections to the plan.
Road to Clingman's dome begins off 441 few hundred feed from Newfound gap overlook. By the time we got there clouds were already very low. Nevertheless, we decided to drive up. Most of the 6 or 7 miles road we had to drive literally through the clouds. It was not that difficult – road is of a good quality and not very steep – it is just about 1000 ft up from Newfound gap to the top of Clingman's dome.
Despite the clouds, parking lot at the top of the road was pretty full – we had to park on one of the few leftower spots on the shoulder rather than on regular parking.
From the end of the driveable road there is a paved trail going up to the summit. IT is not long (0.5 mile) but goes up 300 feet, so it takes a bit of effort to get there. At the end of the trail there is quite large observation tower – spiral concrete ramp that goes up another 50 feet, ending up with a large circular deck. While it seems to be a necessity to get above the treetops to get 360 deg. view, stucture seemed a bit of overkill to me.
Of course, because of the clouds, we did not get much of the view. Actually, we got a perfect view of clouds - around us, above us and below us.
Forecast claimed rain to end within an hour, so when rain hit us n the way down from Clingman's dome, we decided to ignore it and proceed to the Cades cove. Cades cove is about 2 hours to drive from our campground, so we did not want to miss opportunity to visit it “by the way”. In a sense it was a mistake – rain did not stop within an hour – actually, 2 hours later it was heaviest rain I have ever seen and we did not make it even half way to the Cades cove. Given that time was running out, we had to abandon the trip to Cades cove and drive to the Pigeon Forge for final part of the program – Dixie Stampede dinner and show attraction. These “dinner and show” thingies seem to be plentiful at popular tourist destinations – I'm not sure which one is an original, but they seem to be clones of each other with minor variations.
Dixie Stampede one was quite eclectic combination of different historic scenes – native americans, civil war, wild west pioneers, lumberjacks etc. Menu was decent – whole game hen, baked potato, corn, roasted pork and apple pie for dessert. Kids were pretty impressed with both dinner and show and are going to ask for another one soon.

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