It is extremely hot in East Tennessee this week, but there’s one place where you can enjoy the great outdoors and cooler weather – The Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
"Even before this park was established, people were coming to the mountains to escape the heat in the cities,”
said Smokies spokesperson Dana Soehn.
“And with as much pavement and concrete as there is in the cities, you're going to notice a temperature change just by getting to the mountains."
She has some recommendations for the coolest places in the Smokies this time of year.
1. Any peak about 6,000 feet
There are 16 peaks about 6,000 feet in elevation in the Smokies. Since they are the highest points in the park, they are likely to be the coolest. Some of the highest points in the park include Clingmans Dome (6,643 feet), Mount Guyot (6,621 feet) and Mount LeConte (6,593 feet).
2. High elevation balds
Soehn says this is the best time of the year to check out grassy, high-elevation balds because it’s peak flowering time for the hybridizing azaleas. She suggests Gregory’s Bald – about a 5-mile hike – or Andrew’s Bald, which is about 2 miles.
3. Somewhere near a stream
The temperature can dip up to 10 degrees along the banks of a creek or stream. There are streams all over the park, including near Park Headquarters and the Elkmont campground.
The Smokies boasts several beautiful waterfalls, including Laurel Falls, Abrams Falls and Grotto Falls. Soehn suggests trying Rainbow Falls if you really want to cool off. She says it’s one of the tallest waterfalls in the park and the temperature change makes it well worth the climb to the top. The Park does not recommend you try to swim there because of how unpredictable the water can be.