>> Thursday, July 29, 2010
We're back from our vacation in the Smoky Mountains. We loved it so much last year that we went again!
We started out by heading up through Townsend where we stopped at IGA and loaded up our cooler. We then went to a very important stop for me- the Snowball Stand! I always stop for a Snowball at least once on our trip! (For those of you who don't know, a snowball is kind of like a snowcone only 300 times better because the ice is soft and fine and there are way more flavors.) This Snowball Stand operates from a little trailer that is always parked outside River Rat Tubing. I got half pina colada and half peach and it was yummy as always. Then we continued on up to our campsite in Elkmont.
We love Elkmont Campground because it is so beautiful and it is located right along the river so there is plenty of water fun right next to your campsite. It is also pretty well shaded and has bathrooms pretty close to all sites. We spent the first day tubing in the river, catching minnows, and socializing with the neighboring campers from Mississippi.
The next day we headed on up to hike Clingman's Dome. It was really nice! I highly recommend it. It was an easy half mile hike up to the top and you get a full 360 of beautiful views from the top. The trail is paved so great for kids and nice and wide. Then we headed back down to Sugarlands for a picnic and to catch a ranger talk about salamanders. We went back to the campground for napping and tubing and cooking out. Another nice leisurely day gone!
Oh! I forgot to mention our bear spotting! We spotted a black bear silently moving through some freshly emptied campsites! I felt very fortunate but Sierra was not so convinced and wanted to hide in the tent until I could assure her it was gone. Leo was up for viewing safely from a distance with us!
We visited Gatlinburg for our adventurous day. We got to the Gatlinburg Ripley's Aquarium right as it opened at 9:00am and it was super nice. It was a bit pricey for adults but kids were cheap and it was worth it. We went through the shark lagoon tunnel twice the kids loved it so much. After that we did little site seeing on the main street and then went back to the campground for more tubing and napping! For dinner we headed back to Gatlinburg for some really yummy food at the Smoky Mountain Brewery. We also decided to splurge on mini-golf and a hall of mirrors. If you have never done a hall of mirrors before, I suggest you try it. It was totally fun and really an unusual experience. They let us go back through it for free two extra times!
The next morning we loaded up and headed out. Another fun trip to the Smoky Mountains, gone in a flash!